Forest Bathing + Mindfulness at MASS MoCA

For their fourth Slow Art Day, the MASS MoCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), in North Adams, Massachusetts, produced a self-guide leaflet for in-person visitors and organized a virtual event for participants at home.

For visitors to MASS MoCA on April 10th, the museum offered a Slow Art Day Self-Guided Itinerary that challenged visitors to take an unhurried look at MASS MoCA’s exhibitions.

Slow Art Day Self-Guided Itinerary

Before starting their tour, visitors were invited to try a “forest bath” outside the museum. Below are the guidelines from the leaflet:

“Start your slow experience by putting your phone away; plan on going back through the museum after this tour to take photos. Settle into being at the museum by taking in a few deep breaths. As you do so, observe any tensions in your body and release them. Put on hold any distracting thoughts like ‘I have to see everything!’ or ‘What is this place?’ Next, take a few moments to engage in a forest bath to increase relaxation and awareness.

First, take 3–4 deep breaths in/out.

Stand noticing your feet touching the ground.

Look up to enjoy the sky; feel the light on your face.

Walk around slowly and take notice of the ground.

Notice the trees above, then the trees in the distance.

Notice and feel sunlight streaming through the trees and take in the smell.

If you are feeling ambitious, take a moment to move your body to mimic the
trees above. What would it be like to contort yourself the way these trees have changed to grow upside down? (One option could be to try the yoga tree and mountain poses).”

The leaflet featured five artworks from the museum, each accompanied by slow looking prompts:

1. TREE LOGIC. Natalie Jeremijenko.

2. HOW TO MOVE A LANDSCAPE. Blane De St. Croix.

3. IN THE LIGHT OF A SHADOW. Glenn Kaino.

4. DISSOLVE James Turrell.

5. IN HARMONICITY, THE TONAL WALKWAY. Julianne Swartz.

After completing the tour, participants were encouraged to discuss their observations with friends and family, especially if visiting in a group.

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Natalie Jeremijenko, Tree Logic, 1999. 6 flame maple trees, 8 35 feet telephone poles, stainless steel planters and armature, aircraft table and drip irrigation system, photo: Zoran Orlic. Courtesy of MASS MoCA
Blane De St. Croix. HOW TO MOVE A LANDSCAPE. Building 4, 1st floor. Courtesy of MASS MoCA.
Glenn Kaino. IN THE LIGHT OF A SHADOW. Building 5.
Courtesy of MASS MoCA.
James Turrell. DISSOLVE. Building 6, 2nd floor. Courtesy of MASS MoCA.
Julianne Swartz. IN HARMONICITY, THE TONAL WALKWAY. Building 10, 2nd floor.

For the online event, the museum launched virtual material as part of “MASS MoCA From Home.” Resources included two art “how-to” videos, featuring projects that focused on being present with the art-making process. Watch the videos below and try the projects for yourself.

Slow virtual Art-making video: Paper Pulp Clay. This project is inspired by Louise Bourgeois’ Untitled.
Slow virtual Art-making video: Frozen Watercolors. This project is inspired by James Turrell’s Dissolve.

As the final part of the program, MASS MoCA also produced a guided meditation that focused on the painting ‘Indian Summer – Four Seasons‘ by Wendy Red Star. Watch it below.

SLOW LOOKING MEDITATION video with Wendy Red Star’s Indian Summer – Four Seasons

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the way MASS MoCA incorporated nature and mindfulness in their event for both onsite and offsite participants – giving everyone an opportunity to slow down in different ways.

We are excited for their 5th Slow Art Day in 2022!

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

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