25 Apr 2020


Visual Art

By Houghton Kinsman

Keep scrolling for a slow, meditative experience with Artful Meditation facilitator Matthew Roselli.

My wife works as a nurse. Every time she arrives home with nothing serious to report, I breathe a sigh of relief. These last three weeks have been tough; it’s been difficult trying to come to terms with our current situation. When she wakes up and heads off to work fearing what her, her colleagues, and her patients may face during the day, I also experience a mixture of emotions: I think about her wellbeing, meetings, digital programs, my family in South Africa, and how I’m going to make sure the house remains a safe haven. Then, when she does arrive home not much else seems to matter — I’m just grateful she made it through the day okay.

As a cultural practitioner, I’m not an essential worker. I’m not saving lives in hospitals or risking my life to ensure people can still buy groceries. However, I do believe that arts and culture are essential to wellbeing. In these strange, scary and uncertain times, art can provide a unique opportunity for respite from the constant bombardment of disconcerting news and the everchanging nature of this crisis. It does for me and I hope it can for you.

“Art can provide a unique opportunity for respite from the constant bombardment of disconcerting news and the everchanging nature of this crisis. It does for me and I hope it can for you.”
Pictured: Granville Redmond (American, 1871–1935), Farm Pond at Night , 1913. Oil on canvas, 26 x 36 in. Collection of W. Donald Head, Old Grandview Ranch, Saratoga, California.

For a number of years, the Crocker has been committed to wellness through art with programs like Art Rx, Artful Meditation, and Art on the Spectrum. The current Covid-19 crisis has rapidly intensified the need to further explore what additional programs can and need to be offered. The most pressing question now is how can we expand the ways we improve the quality of life through arts engagement for those who need it?

Everyday, when I sit down to read and think, I am reminded that in one’s day-to-day work as an educator, there aren’t many opportunities to do just that. Yet, I have found the last three weeks to be defined by a set of emotions that oscillate between excitement coupled with frustration, connectivity offset by isolation and enthusiasm for the future masked by despondency about the present. Whilst these emotions do tend to form part of life in general, increasingly this cycle is condensing itself into twenty-four hours. It begins with each new day and closes out when I am finally able to switch off and clear my mind.

Houghton Kinsman (center) at an Artful Meditation session.

Stress is a natural component of life, but in these heightened times of uncertainty and crisis it requires extra attention and management. Increased stress has a significant and negative impact on our immune systems and mental health. This makes the Crocker’s commitment to Art + Wellness all the more important. We kicked off this month with a slow looking experience led by our regular Artful Meditation facilitator Teresa Sedano. If you haven’t had an opportunity to view it yet, you can do so here. Teresa’s gentle voice, coupled with the slow moving virtual interaction with our Granville Redmond: The Eloquent Palette exhibition, feels distinctly like those wonderfully beautiful and soothing moments of calm after the storm — when life offers one a brief reprieve from daily reality.

I will miss the Redmond exhibition greatly when it closes. I have grown fond of spending time in the space and hosting programs connected to it. Whether it be discussing the Silent Film Series with curator Kristi Cortez, Teresa’s guided looking, or joining in with the audience to hear Associate Director and Chief Curator Scott Shields talk about how the exhibition came together, I have found much comfort in the exhibition.

When I brought up the idea of offering a themed guided meditation to our other Artful Meditation facilitator, Matthew Roselli, he didn’t hesitate to accept. He has put together something which I hope will bring us all some peace of mind over the next few weeks.

Installation shot of Granville Redmond: The Eloquent Palette.

During the course of the meditation, Matthew leads an exploration of groundedness and acceptance. Matthew is a licensed clinical social worker at the University of California, Davis Pain Clinic and has offered trainings and lectures on the topics of chronic pain, mental health and clinician wellness in various settings including Boston University and the New England School of Acupuncture. On the 4th Saturday of every month Matthew and Teresa host our Artful Meditation program at the Crocker.

Unlike our first digital Art + Wellness program, the guided meditation is not based on visual engagement. Instead, it is purely auditory and meant to be experienced in a calm, comfortable and quiet space without distractions. Find a comfortable posture, switch off your electronics and then listen in. To follow along with captions, click here.

Thank you Matthew for helping put together this meditation for us. Experiences like this are vital to staying mindful, relieving stress, and finding comfort in disconcerting times.

Top Image, Center: Sand Dunes by Granville Redmond, as part of Granville Redmond: The Eloquent Palette. The painting was the subject of April 11’s Slow Looking

About the Author: Houghton Kinsman works as the Adult Education Coordinator at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California. He holds a Master of Fine Art in Art from the University of Cape Town, South Africa and has previously served as assistant to the Curator of Education at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami. His writings have appeared in Art Africa, Contemporary And, Dazed and Confused, Frieze, and Artthrob.