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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Gallery Salutations bring new visitors

By Laura Dripps

Anyone who peruses a Campus Memo can tell you one thing: Grinnellians like yoga. Twice a week, students, faculty, staff and community members have the opportunity to bring the ancient practice to an unconventional setting. This semester, Yoga in Faulconer Gallery will take place on Mondays from 12:15-12:45 pm, in addition to the sessions that have consistently been held on Thursdays at the same time. This Monday’s class has a group of around 25 attendees, who, though mainly students, also included faculty, staff, and local residents. Mats are provided at the Gallery, and no prior experience is needed to attend.

Tilly Woodward, Curator of Academic and Community Outreach at the Gallery, said that Yoga first came to Faulconer as a way to invite more people into the gallery.

“[Director] Lesley Wright and I brainstormed some different programs that we’d like to see developed in different ways of engaging people in feeling welcome in the gallery and different kinds of experiences that people could have while they were looking at the artwork,” Woodward said, “And yoga seemed like it might be a great idea to try.”

The classes quickly caught on, and Yoga in Faulconer became a regularly attended event each Thursday during lunch.

“It seemed to be a good fit for some people in terms of how they experience the work,” Woodward said. “It’s a contemplative practice in a lot of ways and having something to gaze at can be a good part of the yoga practice.” Classes were eventually so popular that this semester the program, a joint venture between Faulconer Gallery and Wellness, is piloting a Monday session.

Yoga in Faulcolner is instructed by Monica St. Angelo, who also teaches classes at Studio Z Yoga in Grinnell. St. Angelo began the session by asking the group to thank themselves for devoting a half-hour to being kind to themselves. The atmosphere throughout the session remained quiet and relaxed, as the meditative properties of the session fully took over the room for a half-hour break from the school/workday. Natural lighting flitted in through the door as participants changed poses and reflected off of “Sandow Birk’s American Qur’an,” the current exhibit.

St. Angelo said that the artwork had a positive effect on the energy of the yoga sessions.

“It’s a really nice aspect that things are changing in here, always,” St. Angelo said. “I love the fact that this also might pull people in who maybe don’t get to the gallery as often.”

Woodward agreed that the relationship between the yoga practice and the gallery space is mutually beneficial.

“For balancing poses definitely having the artwork to gaze upon is a wonderful thing it’s helpful and steadying in a variety of ways,” Woodward said. “I think regardless of whether you’re looking at the art or not, though, it creates an ambiance. And I do notice that people come early and stay late to spend time with the works and they do come back. That’s one thing that I feel very strongly about. … If you invite people and get them to feel welcome in your space, chances are they’ll come back.”

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