The Art of Meditation

IMGuprightSeated on the floor around the tranquil Amida Buddha we all strived to allow our minds and bodies to forget the tensions and stresses of our lives for a short time as part of the monthly mindfulness series of Meditation in the Museum at the David Owsley Museum of Art. The October meditation was my first time taking part in Meditation in the Museum, which proved to be an enjoyable experience after a long week of school and work.  To introduce us to meditation, Sylwia Hodorek and Anca Barsan-Cayro of BSU Conseling Services led us in a brief mindfulness exercise and explained some of the benefits of taking time in your daily life to meditate. They explained that meditation can reduce one’s stress level, improve many of our body’s mental and physical conditions, and also substitute for a nap in its ability to rejuvenate your body and mind.

The main focus of October’s Meditation in the Museum was mindfulness through creative actions, which was observed through the coloring of mandalas. Mandalas are circular designs that are used for focus and balance during meditation, and are often associated with spiritual traditions among many religions. We were each asked to select a mandala and color it while clearing our minds and relaxing our bodies.

IMG_9687

One of those present for the meditation, Marc Devine, described his experience coloring his mandala:

“While coloring the mandala, I began to become aware of my breathing in relation to how I was thinking about the task.  If thoughts began to enter my head that I should speed up and try to finish the mandala, I noticed that my breath would increase, as well the tempo of my movements in coloring would also increase.  When this type of thing would occur, I would invite myself back to simply breathing at a more ‘relaxed’ rate and to allow myself to focus on the sensation of coloring within my fingertips, extending through my hands and connecting to the rest of my body.  

As I chose colors, I would allow my eyes to wander, much like I did when I chose the mandala, and allowed them to land on whatever color they were drawn to.  I trusted that choice, or perhaps simply didn’t question it, and that color became the one that I would use for a period of time.  I would color certain shapes for a period of time, as long as it felt right.”

Coloring the mandalas allowed for a chance to think without rules and take the time to allow our minds and bodies to react naturally to how we were interacting with the mandala. My experience with coloring my mandala took me back to spending time as a child coloring as my thoughts freely spun in my head. I felt it was a very calming and reflective time to return to the mindset of a child.

The act of meditation is meant to affect more than just the time that is set aside to meditate. It is meant to bring more of a balance to daily life and teach you to become mindful of how life’s tasks affect your body and mind. Marc Devine also commented on how the short time he spent meditating played a role in the rest of his day:

“I believe that this experience did stay with me after I left the museum.  I noticed myself feeling very calm and grounded through the rest of the evening.  I noticed a sense of ease to how I performed tasks throughout the remainder of the day, without a sense of rushing or anxiety.  And if at any point I did notice those thoughts of ‘needing to do something quickly’ creeping in, I would think back to the mandala experience, and ask myself to let whatever task that I was doing at the moment happen in its own time.”

IMG_9689

If you’ve been feeling stressed, perhaps incorporating a short time of meditation in your day would improve the way you feel and how you handle the challenges of your day.  You could try meditative coloring or time closing your eyes with your body relaxed to clear your mind and release the tension in your body. I would also like to invite you to the next Meditation in the Museum, Friday, November 21st at 3:30pm.  The focus of the next mindfulness session is Body Scan.

The body scan is a way to get in touch with the body, help your mind become more focused, improve your attention, shift your attention away from your thoughts, relax your body, help you with sleep, and become aware of the moment versus all the things you need to do in the future.

Participants will be asked to lay down on the floor so it’s recommended they bring a yoga mat, blanket, or a towel to the meditation group. One of the facilitators will lead the group in the body scan exercise that will last approximately 30-40 minutes. The entire meditation group will be one hour long and it’s recommended to arrive on time because once we start the exercise we won’t be able to allow others to start late.

Hope to see you there!

Gods and Heroes: Michelangelo, Montorsoli, and a Renaissance Treasure: The Redeemer as Zeus

rraOn Oct 15, the museum welcomed back art historian, fine art appraiser, and BSU alum Richard Raymond Alasko for a talk on our Renaissance period bust Christ the Redeemer depicted as Zeus. His talk focused on the art and inspirations of 16th century artist Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli. He spoke of Montorsoli’s close relationship with the great sculptor and painter Michelangelo, who helped him get commissions and consistently asked for Montorsoli’s aid on many of his own projects. Director of DOMA, Robert G. La France adds, “Montorsoli worked in Michelangelo’s workshop, and was even permitted to finish some of the master’s works….This is a wonderful work of art—and the closest you can come to seeing a Michelangelo in Muncie.”

Alasko’s talk was very friendly and intelligent. You could tell he loved learning and talking about the artist. In fact, when I spoke with him at the reception in the museum’s sculpture court after his talk, he said that he wanted to know everything about Montorsoli and is actually going back to Italy before the end of the year. He also said, when talking about the Redeemer, “I love this piece. It’s weird. I love it, and I love that it’s here.” Ball State is a school that has a sort of history with sculpture, what with the school’s commission of Beneficence in the Quad. Mr. Alasko was a great man to meet and listen to speak and it was great to hear him sing us praises about both the sculpture and the museum itself.

TL2011.003.002v01

Christ the Redeemer depicted as Zeus

As you can tell, this sculpture is a very interesting and highly acclaimed by DOMA staff and visitors alike. Director of Education Tania Said Schuler remarks, “the Montorsoli bust ‘Christ the Redeemer Depicted as Zeus’ draws a lot of interest from visitors. It looks familiar and is recognizable, but stylistically it is a good deal different from other portrayals of Christ…” Even if you missed the lecture last week, you can still come see the bust in the West Gallery anytime!

Great Things from Small Packages

On Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at a luncheon and presentation at the BSU Alumni Center, associate director Carl Schafer spoke about the Drawings and Small Sculptures Exhibition, which he curated.  The  Drawing and Small Sculpture Show is a tribute to Alice Nichols.  Alice Nichols came to Ball State’s Teachers College as head of the Art Department in 1947.  Always the consummate teacher, she strove to expose Muncie to modernism.  As head of the Art Museum, she began a Juried Show in 1955 in contemporary art.  Juried shows were a way in which regional museums could gain national attention.

Associate director Carl Schafer, on October 8, 2014 speaking about “Lacunae”, 1970 by Terry P. Sheer as part of an Owsley Museum of Art Alliance proram about “Great Things from Small Packages: The Drawing and Small Sculpture Shows.”

Associate director Carl Schafer, on October 8, 2014 speaking about “Lacunae”, 1970 by Terry P. Sheer as part of an Owsley Museum of Art Alliance proram about “Great Things from Small Packages: The Drawing and Small Sculpture Shows.”

As referenced in the title, Great Things from Small Packages, many small packages began to arrive to fill the small museum.  As part of her vision, Nichols exposed young, rural, teachers in training to the world of contemporary art.  The students would open the small packages, inspect and arrange the art in the limited space available (Mr. Schafer humorously pointed out that some students liked to touch the art!)  Students would come into contact with 300 or 400 items in a show.  The show became a lively, social space for students to gather and discuss the art.  For some students, it was their first experience with contemporary art.

The juried shows ran from 1955 until the 1990’s.  The shows featured a variety of artists and judges from all over the country and from various backgrounds.  Some artists went on to long, storied careers, while others are no longer working as artists.  One interesting aspect of reexamining the art collected from previous DASS exhibitions, some stands the test of time, and other works are a product of their time.

Alice Nichols developed a core group of supporters for the gallery.  She garnered donations to purchase works to become the property of the museum.  With the remaining funds, she began the museum’s first acquisition fund.  The museum’s Friends, a member group, began in 1972.

Mr. Schafer showed photos of many of the objects in the current exhibition.  The day before his luncheon talk, a group of 9th through 12th graders from the Burris Academy visited the  “Great Things from Small Packages” exhibition.  Director of education Tania Said of the museum staff asked the student to look “untitled, #280”, a small ceramic sculpture, by Barry V. Cramer. Tania asked the students what they visualized when they looked at the piece, one student answered, “Nature.”

Education Director Tania Said speaking with Burris Academy high school students about Untitled Ceramic #280 by Barry V. Cramer in the Great Things in Small Packages, Drawing and Small Sculpture Exhibit

Education Director Tania Said speaking with Burris Academy high school students about Untitled Ceramic #280 by Barry V. Cramer in the Great Things in Small Packages, Drawing and Small Sculpture Exhibit

Akrem Ahmed and Josh Sholts of the school group, looking at a piece named “Lacunae”, 1970 by Terry P. Sheer, wondered about the technique used in the graphite and ink piece.  (I found this work to be one of the “princes” of the show!)  When looking at the “Orange Streak,” by Randy Wassel, Akrem said to Josh “You let the piece speak to you.”

Akrem Ahmed and Josh Sholts, students from Burris Laboratory School viewing ”Great Things from Small Packages: The Drawing and Small Sculpture Shows.”

Akrem Ahmed and Josh Sholts, students from Burris Laboratory School viewing ”Great Things from Small Packages: The Drawing and Small Sculpture Shows.”

The Alliance members are a learned, wonderful group of people curious about the exhibition. With all the world’s pressures, there is a virtue in sharing an hour learning about the joys of art.

Drawing and Small Sculpture Show

September 14, 2014-January 5, 2015

Curated by Carl Schafer, Associate Director of David Owsley Museum of Art

DOMA’s First Final Friday

Friday, September 26th, marked the start of Final Fridays, a new event series at the David Owsley Museum of Art! Every last Friday of the month the museum will be hosting an array of Final Friday events from 5-9 pm, which will focus on Pecha Kucha presentations by local arts and culture organizations and individuals. Pecha Kucha, which is short for Japanese chit-chat, consists of many short presentations which consist of twenty slides for twenty seconds each, bringing each presentation to a total of six minutes and forty seconds. Pecha Kucha presentation are meant to spark conversation and discussion while delivering information in a fast-paced and energetic manner.

IMG_8430

This was my first experience with Pecha Kucha presentations and I found it to be very refreshing in comparison to traditional lectures. The presentations were just long enough to spark your interest in the presenting organization and give you the information to learn more, but not enough time for thoughts to start drifting. No matter what, every twenty seconds the slide changed and very quickly we were on to the next presenter. This week there were presentations on six topics with the theme of Embark.

The presenters were:

  1. Union City Arts Festival- Immersive learning project helping Union City start up a brand new arts festival that will take place from October 10-12.
  2. Muncie Maker District- Helping fuel the “maker movement” of artists, craftsmen, inventors, and entrepreneurs in Muncie.
  3. PROJECTiONE- Design/fabrication studio started by Ball State architecture grads, which create large-scale projects that blend architectural design and art.
  4. From Curating to Creating- Muncie Public Library is breaking through the boundaries of traditional libraries by developing Indiana’s first paperless library branch, Connection Corner, that connects patrons to new media.
  5. ArtsWalk- First Thursday arts and culture events that takes place in Downtown Muncie.
  6. Drawing and Small Sculpture Show- The David Owsley Museum revisits the historical Drawing and Small Sculpture Shows through its new special exhibition, “Great Things from Small Packages: The Drawing and Small Sculpture Shows.”

One of the Union City Arts Festival presenters, Katie Norman, commented on her experience by saying, “The pecha kucha format gave a fresh new spin on a presentation that could have easily been twice as long. Having a format like this where you have very limited time to explain yourself, really makes you get down to the basics. It makes you ask yourself questions as presenters about what is really important and what do you really want the viewer to take away from this experience. I think that considering all of these elements we were able to provide an entertaining fresh look on Union City and the festival that will be happening there this weekend. “

IMG_8386

Caricature of DOMA Director, Robert La France

Besides the Pecha Pucha lectures, which many appreciated as a new and exciting experience, guests were able to enjoy refreshments in the sculpture court, mingling about the galleries, and have a caricature portrait drawn of them.

The Muncie Public Library Connection Corner also provided a 3-D printer demonstration that took a scan of DOMA’s “Rising Day,” by Adolph Alexander Weinman, to create a miniature version of the sculpture in plastic. Drew Shermeta, who led the demonstration, explained that the initial scan takes the volume of the object and segments it into small layers that the 3-D printer then precisely builds up by melting plastic according to the digital file. Shermata encouraged everyone who is interested to inquire at the library about 3-D printing, which is an open and inexpensive resource to the public. He said that one of the most interesting 3-D printing projects that came in recently was from a young boy who wanted to 3-D print a helmet from the videogame Halo

.
IMG_8410

The first Final Friday event went off successfully and was filled with conversation about what’s happening right now in the arts and culture scene of Muncie and the surrounding areas. We hope that you can join us for the next Final Friday event (in this case Nearly Final Friday) which is the evening of October 24th.

Story of Art

stOn Wednesday September 15, Barbara Alverez-Bohanon, a docent and also a member of the David Owsley Museum of Art Executive Committee, lead a fun event for a few children. This event, The Story of Art, will take place every third Wednesday of the month on October 15 and November 19. The event is planned for preschoolers as a more targeted, age specific program at the museum, but parents and older siblings are welcome!

For the first Story of Art, Barbara and a mother with two boys met in the museum’s Asian gallery in front of our Amida Buddha sculpture. There, a quilt was laid out in front

Getting a closer look

Getting a closer look

of the Buddha for the children to sit and a few folding chairs scattered around for the parents. Barbara taught the boys how to count to 5 in Japanese, read a story of Japanese folklore, and got up close and personal with the Amida Buddha. Barbara provided the children with a map, a book, and other objects that they could touch and interact with. Afterwards, Barbara and the visitors walked around the gallery to view a few more interesting works.

Resa Matlock, director at Child Care Collections, attended the program and commented that she “liked the conversations and the connections!” Although the original intent was just to view the Amida Buddha, Barbara and the visitors continued through the gallery and talked about other works. Children and adults asked questions which Barbara promptly replied to with additional stories.

The next Story of Art will take place October 15th. We hope to see even more kiddies in the galleries then!

Inspired by our abstract sculpture, "Thrusting", Barbara and Adam mimic the action of wielding and thrusting a sword.

Inspired by our abstract sculpture, “Thrusting”, Barbara and Adam mimic the action of wielding and thrusting a sword.

Adam contemplates a Japanese warrior's armor

Adam contemplates a Japanese warrior’s armor