Courtesy of University Life

Using art to practice mindfulness with University Life


University Life Arlington, University Life SciTech and Graduate Student Life worked together to create a space of virtual exploration through art for students in their “Art of Mindfulness” paint night program. The most recent event took place on March 25 over Zoom, and opened with smiling faces and hands full of art supplies, eager to create. 

“The Art and Mindfulness program was created in 2019 and we partnered with the Arlington Arts Center to create a workshop that focuses on the exploration and relationship between art and wellness through creation,” said Sophie Gorshenin, the programming and administrative coordinator of University Life Arlington. 

This virtual event allows students to express themselves through artistic expression, creating emotional connections between students through a designated theme. This week’s theme, chosen by students and staff, was Bob Ross, citing his trademark phrase, “There are no mistakes, just happy little accidents!”

“For each session we work together to create a theme,” Gorshenin said. “Based on this theme different paintings are chosen. We also encourage students to pick their favorite medium and use this time to create whatever they wish.”

Themes are chosen based on students’ interest and what best correlates to the medium being used that week. While there are fewer attendees than the in-person events, the virtual format has been a great success in being able to connect students with their peers.

“With this event, we focus on creating community and provide tools to practice mindfulness which helps promote overall well-being,” Gorshenin said. “For example, before starting each painting activity, we begin with 10 minutes where participants are welcome to draw what they are feeling. After this, we welcome everyone to share and discuss their sketch.”

This session was led by “master artists” Kerry Hentges from University Life SciTech and Nikita Thadani from Graduate Life. They taught attendees how to sketch and paint on a basic level, requiring no previous experience at all. It was guided by the theme, but still allowed students to express themselves artistically in any way they saw fit.

“I think this program has helped students feel both relaxed and motivated. The goal of this program is to provide a space and time to reflect and connect with fellow students, by creating a space where students can chat about anything,” Gorshenin said. 

Art is a natural way to practice mindfulness and a great way to meet fellow students. This event encourages not only artistic expression, but also prompts students to interact socially in an enjoyable and comfortable environment. This is a Zoom meeting you’ll actually want to tune in to.