ARTH 16
Experiments in Mindfulness and Art Museums Winter 2022

Cross-listed REL 16 / ARTH 16

Class Details

Vietnamese Buddhist Thích Nhat Hanh said, “Always there is the opportunity to live our life fully. When we drink water, we can be aware that we are drinking water. When we walk, we can be aware that we are walking.” It could be added: When we view and create art, we can be aware that we are viewing and being creative. How can we learn to become more alert and conscious to our surroundings and then apply these skills so we can enjoy a fuller, more vivid experience of life? Using MASS MoCA’s contemporary art exhibitions, we will explore how objects can bring us to the present and urge us to slow down and be aware of their embedded messages. This experiential course takes place at MASS MoCA twice weekly for 3 hours each session. Students will work with MASS MoCA’s director of education and curator of Kidspace to experiment with “ArtInSight,” the museum’s three-pronged pedagogy that includes arts-based conversations, mindfulness-based insight activities, and art-making exercises to deepen connections to the art on view and to one’s own creativity. Guest artists and yogis will be brought in to further explore mindfulness and the arts. While this is a great opportunity for art/art history and religion majors, students are not required to already have mindfulness or art-making practices. Rather, a goal of this course is to collectively try out socio-emotional mindfulness skills that can be useful in our everyday life to become more stress resilient, have more meaningful interpersonal connections, and nurture compassion towards ourselves and others. In addition to being fully engaged in hands-on class activities and discussions, we will read a selection of aesthetics philosophy, and Buddhist and secular mindfulness texts. For a final project, we will design mindfulness-based gallery experiments that can be conducted at the MASS MoCA.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 30
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: final project or presentation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: preference will be given to art and religion majors, juniors and seniors
Unit Notes: Laura Thompson, Ed.D. is MASS MoCA's director of education and curator of Kidspace. She is a long term meditator and incorporates mindfulness into her work and family life; has conducted many mindfulness-based art training programs; and has designed the museum's signature education pedagogy ArtInSight that includes meditation practices.
Materials/Lab Fee: none
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
REL 16 ARTH 16

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