Alone in my apartment due to measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19, maintaining a routine while not knowing what each day will bring or how much longer this will go on, I’ve felt emotionally exhausted. It’s difficult to not give in to despair, and yet it’s important to hold onto hope. COVID-19 is intensifying the vulnerabilities that all of us face and is requiring each of us to sit with more uncertainty than perhaps we feel we can manage.
One thing sustaining me right now is a new initiative I’m working on with colleagues in MoMA’s Department of Education, called Artful Practices for Well-Being. In 2019, after a trip to India, our School and Teacher Programs team launched a series of professional development workshops for teachers focused on how art can be used as a tool for social and emotional learning. The Museum closure has prompted us to consider how we might expand on that, reach out to more people, and focus on nurturing our individual and collective wellbeing. As someone who is actively engaged in trauma therapy, I think of everything through the lens of trauma-informed practices. I’m a believer in the possibility of healing from even the most difficult of circumstances.
Brainstorming for the Artful Practices for Well-Being initiative, we asked ourselves, “What do people need right now? What will people need going forward? How can we help? What are our parameters?” Several themes emerged that helped us establish our goals and propose activities and practices that explore connectedness; self-care; groundedness; non-judgment; empathy and compassion; resilience; radical acceptance; empowerment; and structure, routine, and intentionality.
To start, beginning this week, @MoMALearning will offer regular prompts, activities, and reflections—from mindful walks and meditative drawing to portrait empowerment and poems for getting grounded—that draw inspiration from works in the collection. We’ve shared three videos below; be sure to check back on Twitter for more.
Little Joys in Our Neighborhoods | Artful Practices for Well-Being
Mindful Drawing | Creativity Lab at Home
Meditative Drawing | Creativity Lab at Home
We hope these will help create even the smallest shift to make things a bit more bearable. It’s okay to feel grief, anger, confusion, and to feel exhausted, unfocused, and unmotivated. Just like this pandemic, those emotional states are not permanent. Things shift continuously and it’s up to all of us to ride these changes as best we can, look out for each other, and be gentle with ourselves.