Art as a Form of Meditation

By Katie Waldron

Bryn Rothschild-Shea/Daily Collegian
Bryn Rothschild-Shea/Daily Collegian

In our current society, there are constantly options to share. Facebook asks what I’m doing and how I’m feeling, Twitter wonders what’s going on and Instagram tells a life story through filtered pictures and hashtags. Many sites even provide the option to sign up through Facebook, so that posts can be shared through feeds for others to like and comment on. With all of this emphasis on social media and constant contact with other people (some of whom I haven’t even seen or spoken to in five or six years), I find myself searching for a way to quietly connect with something that does not require a screen or 140 characters. That is where art comes in.

All works of art, whether a colorful Impressionist painting or a metal sculpture, make me feel something. Though it is always tempting to bring my phone into museums or galleries to take a picture of the art (because for some reason it is more important to show everyone that I am looking at art instead of actually looking at it), I always try to leave my phone in my bag. While I believe that putting the phone down and trying to be fully present in all moments is something everyone should strive for, I especially believe this to be true in museums or galleries. The only way you are going to truly connect with the art is to look at it with undivided attention and not through an iPhone camera lens.

When I eliminate the screen as a middleman, I find that I can achieve a sense of peace and calm while wandering around an installment. To simply be present and look at art, to connect and allow myself to feel what the artist is attempting to communicate, is one of the very few methods of personal meditation I can actually accomplish. Otherwise, my head is going 100 miles per hour every moment, and even if I set aside time to sit and meditate on my couch, I feel guilty because I can feel my unread books for class staring at me. Art galleries, even if I only get to look at a couple of pieces, are my personal oasis.

There is something to be said for the simple experience of looking at a piece of art. I think so many people believe that because they are not an art history student that they cannot fully enjoy a painting or that they have no place at an art gallery, which is wrong. Art can create a type connection to something or someone that can’t accomplish through a screen or a Google image search.

UMass has plenty of installments scattered around the campus that are usually free for students. In my experience, the Museum of Contemporary Art beneath the Fine Arts Center, is a great place to escape to. It is quiet, well-lit and usually has interesting exhibits to experience.

In an impossibly fast-paced world of academics and other obligations, looking at art has become my personal form of meditation.

Katie Waldron can be reached at [email protected]