Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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December 22, 2020

Minding My Own Business: The Importance of Self-Care

By Sally Ball

One of the best things to come out of 2020, in my opinion, is the prioritization and focus on self-care. My own journey with mindfulness and self-care began in 2019 when I attended the NAEA School for Art Leaders (SAL) at Crystal Bridges. I had dabbled in meditation previously, but without any real success. I did not have a good concept of the idea of work/life balance, and this is still an area I am working on. A variety of mindfulness activities were presented as part of the SAL sessions each day and these really launched my dedicated interest in this field of study. Especially impactful for me was the use of the book, Mindfulness and the Art of Drawing: A Creative Path to Awareness by Wendy Ann Greenhalgh. This book is full of wonderful drawing exercises, some of which, such as Mindful Doodling, I have used to center my team of museum educators prior to gallery teaching training sessions.

As part of their response to the pandemic, and its impact on the staff at Crystal Bridges, museum leadership made available for several months the daily Mind-Body Live series from the Whole Health Institute. I attended these short sessions as my schedule would allow and learned some activities that have become part of a regular mindfulness and meditation practice for me. Each video in the series, led by the brilliant physicians at the Whole Health Institute, begins with a thematic teaching moment which transitions into a mindfulness routine. Some of my favorites are the neck stretches and eye calisthenics, facilitated by Dr. Henri Roca, both of which help to alleviate some of the stress and discomfort that are the result of working in a virtual environment, and the mini mental vacation, facilitated by Dr. Tracy Gaudet.

In addition to the Mind-Body Live series, the Whole Health Institute has a microsite  Whole Health 4 You, which is a free video resource for children, parents, and educators looking to focus on health and well-being. This is a resource that Crystal Bridges is utilizing as our team of educators creates a series of My Museum Classroom Kits for 6th-8th grade students which are centered on social and emotional learning standards.

My initial interest in working with the Whole Health Institute was in relation to the work I do with students in the juvenile justice system. For those programs I have followed a format of close looking and open dialogue with works of art followed by self-expression in various art media. Moving forward, I want to add a component of mindfulness and self-care into these monthly sessions. Crystal Bridges is also developing, in 2021, a series of professional development sessions for teachers centered around Empathy and Wellness.

For more information on School Programs at Crystal Bridges, email [email protected] or sign up for our Educator eNewsletter.



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