The arts can provide a path to wellness. As health and safety concerns keep us distanced from our everyday lives, arts organizations are offering their virtual audiences activities to help them recharge. After all, five months of sheltering in place can take a toll on our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
“In these times especially, it’s vitally important to recharge and reconnect with ourselves and others,” reads the online description for a virtual class by RiverArts titled “Mindfulness and Art.” Each of the weekly sessions begins with guided meditation and a breathing exercise before participants are led through a simple art-making activity. Classes, which take place on Tuesdays throughout August, may include activities like watercolor painting or creating sculptures with natural materials.
Weekly Zoom gatherings hosted by ART 4 WELLNESS also begin with meditation and deep breathing before the participants turn their cameras to their artwork. A DJ plays uplifting sounds while the participants create works based on a weekly theme. After, the artists share their artistic process during a networking experience. According to Luisa Baptista, who founded the group with artists Katori Walker and Evan Bishop, ART 4 WELLNESS “was birthed out of this current global pandemic as a support mechanism for artists. [Its] intention is to provide a supportive space.”
Meanwhile, as it turns out, origami is “not just a craft…it is a therapeutic exercise and a joyful meditation,” says Hammond Museum Director Lorraine Laken. The museum’s Origami Therapy class on August 11 aims to heighten participants’ senses, increase their focus and exercise their brain. Included in a list of benefits: “Folding paper correctly…builds muscle memory; memorizing the steps stimulates the brain.” The Museum also hopes to offer outdoor tai chi, a form of martial arts that focuses on meditation and movement.
For those who say they don’t have time for self-care, White Plains Public Library hosts weekly “Lunchtime Meditation at the Library” sessions, on Wednesdays beginning in September. The midday respite begins with brief instruction, followed by meditation. Additionally, Harrison Public Library offers “Yoga for All Ages,” relaxing yoga sessions for the whole family each Thursday.
Last, the Neuberger Museum of Art (The Neu) began Wellness Wednesday sessions in its gallery last year, a series that will resume in August with a focus on community and connectedness. Live Zoom sessions on August 5 and 9 will begin with a community conversation, followed by a five-minute guided meditation. Says Diana Puglisi, Curator of Education, Youth and Adult Programs at the Neu: “It was important to us to continue supporting the bodies, minds and spirits of those in our community.” Recordings will be available after the events.
A version of this article first appeared in the August issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNewsis distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.