Through immersive engagements with art, landscape, and meditation, Nature|Spirit|Art helps participants cultivate personal resilience in the face of climate change. This five-session workshop provides participants opportunities to experience their gratitude for the Earth, explore their climate grief, re-imagine their relationship to the natural world, and take collective action in service to the planet. Drawing on the extraordinary modernist landscape art at The Phillips Collection, as well as the plant and animal life in nearby Rock Creek Park, Nature|Spirit|Art helps participants develop tools to face the climate crisis with a buoyant and courageous spirit. We will engage eco-critical art theory, eco-Buddhist thought, art-making, and practices of mindfulness and meditation.
Registration is limited to 20 participants who can commit to be present for all five meetings: May 26, June 2, June 9, June 16, and June 23.
IMAGE: Sam Taylor-Johnson, Self-Portrait as a Tree, 2000, Chromogenic print, 29 3/4 x 35 3/4 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta, Washington, DC, 2011
Joshua Shannon is Professor of Contemporary Art History at the University of Maryland. He is co-editor of Humans (Terra/Chicago, 2022) and author of The Recording Machine: Art and Fact During the Cold War (Yale, 2017) and The Disappearance of Objects: New York Art and the Rise of the Postmodern City (Yale, 2009).
Robert Hardies is an experienced leader of workshops, retreats and pilgrimages. From 2001 to 2020, Rob was senior minister of All Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, DC, where he led award-winning campaigns on behalf of voting rights and marriage equality. He is now Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard.
Aparna Sadananda comes to mindfulness practice from a science background. She holds a PhD in cellular neuroscience from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India. In addition to leading art-based meditations at The Phillips Collection and the National Museum of Asian Art, she is a senior yoga teacher and trainer at Yoga District in Washington, DC. She is also an artist, specializing in Indian folk art and a musician, trained in traditional Indian singing.
May 26: Welcome and Grounding
After introducing ourselves to one another, we will familiarize participants with our approach to the workshops’ three pillars: nature, spirit and art. We will locate ourselves in the context of The Phillips Collection as well as natural history and ecology of the Potomac watershed, while introducing an experience of mindfulness meditation.
June 2: Gratitude
A critical practice of climate resilience is to remain connected to our gratitude for the Earth. Employing practices of meditative walking, participants will explore the immediate urban and natural landscape around The Phillips Collection, focusing on details of the landscape that stimulate their delight and/or gratitude. Participants will then have the opportunity to respond creatively to their experience (for example: a photo, a drawing, a journal entry) and share their gratitude in small groups.
June 9: Grief
Even as we are sustained by our gratitude for the Earth, personal resilience demands that we honestly confront our grief and fear for the future of the planet. In this session, participants will experience and respond to key works in the collection by Jacob Lawrence and Georgia O’Keeffe. In facilitated groups they will then have the opportunity to further explore their grief over climate losses.
June 16: New Perspectives
Climate resilience requires habits of thought that free us from the human-nature binary and help us re-imagine our relationship to the Earth. In this session we will explore works of art through the lens of eco-critical thought, understanding how different artists, including Ansel Adams and Sam Taylor-Johnson, have imagined the human-nature relationship.
June 23: Moving Forward with Agency
Creative, collective action on behalf of the planet is a final, critical practice of climate resilience, strengthening our sense of agency in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. In our final session we will learn more about cutting-edge sustainability efforts and participate collectively in a carbon-capture service project.