UVA Arts, University of Virginia

Vol 02 Spring 15 Library
Erica Ruth, College '15

An Art, Contemplation and Wellness Initiative

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about OpenGrounds and thier ongoing projects.

On February 6, OpenGrounds hosted a special forum around the topic of Art, Contemplation and Wellness, with support from the U.Va. Arts Council and in collaboration with The Phillips Collection and The National Academy of Sciences. The event, which brought together students and faculty to present research and coursework on the topic, also served as a sort of dry run for a special presentation at the National Academy of Sciences DC Art-Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER) on February 19 in Washington. According to OpenGrounds Associate Director Lindsey Hepler, the events, and the initiative itself, are the result of a collaboration with The Phillips Collection that began some five years ago around the idea of how universities and museums should move forward in changing, and often challenging, times. “Duncan Phillips, whose private collection eventually became the museum, believed deeply in the power of art as a force for wellness and healing,” Hepler said. A number of factors, including the advent of the Contemplative Sciences Center at U.Va., pushed the collaborations in the direction of Art, Contemplation and Wellness, leading to a number of fascinating studies and projects that were presented at the February events. Presentations included “Synesthesia”, a participatory art project led by fourth year distinguished majors in the Studio Art department; “Looking Inward: A Meditative Art Tour” by Naomi Worth of Religious Studies, who has developed a meditation tour for The Fralin Museum of Art; “Drawing Attention”, by Barbara Bernstein, studio art instructor; “The Clinicians Eye” by Marcia Day Childress, Associate Professor of Medical Education, and Jordan Love, Academic Curator for The Fralin Museum of Art; “Defining Contemplation,” by the Director of the Contemplative Sciences Center, David Germano; a presentation on Music and Consciousness by Fred Maus, Associate Professor of Music: Critical and Comparative Studies. The day also featured a presentation by The Phillips Collections highlighting the results of a collaborative effort around building a Contemplation Audio Tour for four works of art in their collection. A publication highlighting the work that has come out of these collaborations is currently in the works. “With this theme,” Hepler said, “I feel like we have tapped into enormous potential in terms of the benefits that come from slowing down, training our attention, and taking time to engage with the task or person, or work of art in front of us. It also has shown that art can be a wonderful tool to provide an avenue into this contemplative way of living.”

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