Gallery builds community through 'mindful' interaction

Published 10.04.2018

The Gallery at Penn College

High school visitors settle into a quiet meditation corner in The Gallery at Penn College to participate in Meredith Grimsley’s workshop focused on healing through vulnerability, empathy and stitch. High schoolers enjoy the “Create Your Own Dreamcatcher” workshop. A peaceful symbol for all timeGrimsley (standing) reads a healing poem as participants experiment with stitching while wearing blindfolds. A “Thought Cloud,” located under the Madigan Library’s first floor open staircase, offers visitors a way to reflect on the “Mindful” exhibit and share positive messages with others. About 250 community members have participated in educational workshops offered in conjunction with the exhibition, “Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art,” on display in The Gallery at Penn College through Thursday, Oct. 11.

The gallery has hosted students from Williamsport Area, Loyalsock Township, South Williamsport Area and Muncy high schools for two one-day sessions, offered a day of workshops for veterans, and conducted a series of public workshops.

All outreach efforts were free and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Guest artists offered workshops that helped demonstrate how the arts can support positive mental health by reducing stress and give voice to a difficult subject matter and emotions,” said Penny Griffin Lutz, gallery director. “Workshops incorporated mindfulness techniques while focusing on creative art making. By employing the arts, we attempted to build community by bringing residents and artists together to address a societal issue. We aimed to open a dialogue that supported creativity, community and healthy living, and empowered participants.”

Lutz gave special thanks to the guest artists who participated: Kevin Basl, Patricia Broderick, Brittany Dincher, Lynn Estomin, Meredith Grimsley, Jeremiah Johnson, Sydney Katona, Nathan Lewis, Andrea McDonough Varner, Beth Moser, Nina Riggle, Brian Spies, Cathy Stechschulte, and Paula Swett.