Artful Practices for Well-Being


Sam Gilliam. 10/27/69. 1969 490

Acrylic on canvas, 140 x 185 x 16" (355.6 x 469.9 x 40.6 cm). Sam A. Lewisohn Bequest (by exchange)

Sabrina Sarro: My name is Sabrina Sarro, a psychotherapist and MFA candidate. And I'm also a writer and have a memoir on how trauma informs the body.

The piece that we are looking at today is by Sam Gilliam. And I want to invite you to close your eyes and just try to find your breath, as we begin to go on a journey with this piece of art. And I'm just going to invite everyone to participate in three diaphragmatic breaths with me. So all this means is that we're going to breathe in through the nose, hold in the chest, and exhale out through the belly. You might feel your belly dropping almost like air is coming out of a balloon.
So I'm going to count off in threes and we're just going to do three breaths together.

1, 2, 3.
1, 2, 3.
1, 2, 3.

And as you start to find your breath, inviting you to open your eyes again and let's begin.

I just want to invite everyone to lean into a color that is calling out to you. And just take a moment to slowly melt into that color. I want you to find in your body the first feeling that this color is yielding for you. And this feeling can be anything that is revealed before you—an image, a memory, a smell. And I just want you to take your time right now and really focus this present moment, on the color of your choosing, and just allow your body to take you where it wants.

Remember to stay focused on your breath, stay focused on any sensations or vibrations that your body might be bringing to you in this moment. Think about what this color is meaning for you right now. Think about what it symbolizes for you. Try and give that color a body, if you can, or a face. Try to really visualize, in this moment, the energy behind that color and how that energy might be interacting with you inside your body right now.
I want to invite you to pay attention to your posture right now, the temperature of your body right now, any revelations or truths that your body is bringing you to, as you lean into your color. And remember to breathe if you need to, move if you need to.

Now I'm going to encourage everyone to zoom out of the painting and try to contextualize the color that you've chosen with the entire landscape of the piece. As you scale back, I want to draw everyone's attention into the abstraction of this piece—how Gilliam is playing with body, how it's dimensional, how Gilliam utilizes shadows. And also pay attention to some of the shapes that one might begin to see. As you scale back, I want you to think about anything that this painting might be bringing up for you.

And, I want to also encourage folks to think about how Gilliam was able to produce this color pattern on this cloth. So as an artist who used soaking, splattering, folding of the fabric in onto itself, think about this as well.

And as we close, I want to invite everyone to pay attention and to lean into the color all around us. Colors that we might not have language for yet. The colors that resonate with us—to really lean into the energy of colors all around us.
Thank you so much, everyone for embarking on this journey with me and being present with Sam Gilliam's painting. Thank you.

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