Being Well: In Search of Utopia?
A Contemporary Art Exhibit Curated by Kathryn Gressel
Artist Selection Committee: Mitra Dejkameh, Co-Interim Director of Education and Manager, ArtAccess Programs and Autism Initiatives, Queens Museum; Katherine Gressel, Contemporary Curator, Old Stone House; Claudia Joseph, head of gardening and permaculture programs, Old Stone House; Kim Maier, Old Stone House Executive Director; Sara Reisman, Executive and Artistic Director, Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation
Utopia: An ideal place or state
What would an ideal (or “utopian”) state of community health and wellness look like and how are current efforts succeeding or failing?
Being Well: In Search of Utopia? is a group exhibition exploring artists’ role in defining and facilitating community health and wellness. At a time of anxiety over the future of healthcare, the environment, and a population increasingly divided, individual and collective healing are at the forefront of many conversations. According to arts think tank Createquity, not only can the presence of the arts lead to improved outcomes in various healthcare settings, arts participation itself “is associated with subjective wellbeing, or one’s perceived quality of life.” The artists in Being Well operate in the realms of empathy, self empowerment/self care, and social critique/activism to define and advance different aspects of personal and societal well being – including questioning the ability of policymakers and corporations to regulate our physical, mental and environmental health effectively, transparently and equitably.
Projects include Zoey Hart’s wearable “Empathy Suits” that provide a tactile reference to others’ pain as a means to mutual understanding; Carmen Papalia’s tenets of “Open Access” in favor of a more inclusive and grassroots approach to accessibility; and Jody Wood’s theater-based workshops encouraging self-care among care workers who experience “secondary trauma.” Events and installations by Shervone Neckles, Tattfoo Tan, and Jenna Spevack explore the importance of spiritual and natural remedies and their connection to culture and community. Leslie Kerby, Anthony Heinz May and Shana Moulton appropriate and/or question the “utopian” messaging of politicians, medical providers, and insurance and big pharma/big farming companies that attempt to provide and sometimes profit from wellness. Carolyn Monastra’s ongoing “Witness Tree” photography project documenting the effects of and solutions for global climate change and corresponding “Postcards for Politicians” workshop imply that the quest for wellness resides not only within individuals and communities, but in petitioning our leaders for change.
The Old Stone House itself aims to contribute to community wellness, with 1.5 acres of history and habitat gardens developed by Claudia Joseph, beginning in 2004. The gardens are social interaction centers as much as they are food, medicine and craft resources. As a 1776 Battle of Brooklyn site, OSH also symbolizes American Revolutionary ideals such as the right to life and the pursuit of happiness. In a political age when the fundamental right to “be well” is seen by many as under threat, this exhibition also asks, is universal well being achievable, or, in fact, a failed utopia?
Being Well: in Search of Utopia? is made possible, in part, by the Puffin Foundation and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
Image Credit: Shervone Neckles
Sunday, September 24, 2-4 p.m.
Creative Wellness Gathering Station with Shervone Neckles
Learn about early civilizations’ use of herbs and create an herbal mix to support your individual wellness needs.
Sunday, October 1, 2-4 p.m.
Postcards for Politicians community art workshop with Carolyn Monastra
Create handmade postcards about your concerns with climate change and health to send to your legislators.