DIA mobile interactive exhibit inspires class creativity

March 21, 2016

DIA Away DIA Museum Educator Renee Nixon, center, shared art integration teaching techniques with Professor Julie Taylor’s EXPS 410: Multiculturalism in School and Society course students.

Have Art, Will Travel.

The Detroit Institute of Arts’ new mobile exhibit DIA Away came to campus last week. Interactive stations and hands-on activities—like digitalized art reproductions and video booths—lined the 53-foot blue expandable trailer.

And in front of those stations were UM-Dearborn students and their professors, discovering and practicing different ways that artists think—and in the process becoming inspired.

Brought to campus though Associate Professor of Education, Julie Taylor, DIA Away—which started in 2015— travels the Detroit’s tri-county region to give people access to unique resources outside museum walls.

Walking around the different stations with her students on Wednesday night, Taylor said she first heard about DIA Away last year from a docent while participating in a museum tour with a class.

For students in her EXPS 410: Multiculturalism in School and Society course at UM-Dearborn and the History, Art, and Culture Program at Detroit’s Douglass Academy for Young Men, Taylor  organizes visits to the DIA.. But previously, for her night classes, she had been unable to do so.

“DIA Away affords students the opportunity to explore museum resources directly and to think creatively,” said Taylor, who invited the DIA to bring the mobile museum to campus last summer.

DIA gallery teacher Tyler Taylor said in addition to encouraging exploration on DIA Away, preservice teachers can also share—if applicable—their teaching tactics.

“It’s more than seeing a collection and being active in the experience. These are engagement strategies for utilizing art to engage different types of learners—tactile, linguistic or visual,” he said.   Teri John, Director of Education Programs at the DIA, and Renee Nixon, museum educator, also interacted with visitors during the teaching-and-learning experience.

While on campus, several classes —including Taylor’s— along with individual faculty, staff and students explored the different areas the vehicle has to offer.

Organizational Behavior Associate Professor Joy Beatty said her evening course OB 403: Negotiation and Conflict Management was spending their first half of class in pairs working on picture-based storyboards and choosing magnetic words to create free-form poetry.

“Since we’ve been doing negotiations for the past eight weeks, the students are getting really fast with it. But it’s also a little too formulaic, so tonight we are breaking out of the routine and doing something different,” she said. “Our class tonight is about integrative, win-win scenarios which require more creative thinking to find a solution everyone is happy with. We’re here to prime students' creativity before they begin their role play exercise for the evening.”

Seniors Jessica Rayappan and Kara Norton, who paired up for Beatty’s class, spent time at the light box wall discussing and debating about which glass plates they should combine to create a scene and a corresponding story.

“It’s a unique experience where we are exercising creativity of our own,” said Rayappan, human resources and marketing major. “It ties into what we are learning, and I can see how it can be applied to critical thinking tactics. This is fun.”

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