I’ve been with the Crocker’s Art + Wellness programming from the beginning and have had the pleasure of watching each new iteration grow from a tiny seed into an organism that nourishes so many different people.

As an educator, I first came to the Museum with the task of mentoring ASL interpreting students with an internship of sorts. My colleague and I paired docents with students to practice together and ultimately offer a tour in ASL to the Deaf community. This was the Deaf attendees first opportunity to participate in learning about the Museum’s resources in their native language. Witnessing the connection between my students and the Deaf community was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as an educator and mentor.

My connection with the Crocker continued as the Museum started to explore Artful Meditation, Slow Art viewing, and ArtRX, a program specifically for those of us living with chronic pain issues. I joined initially as a volunteer, then became a meditation guide, and now offer education of various artworks via slow art viewing. I am constantly blown away at how this pairing of a visitor’s internal and external experiences seems to profoundly move people in ways they didn’t expect.

The Art + Wellness programs really complement each other—working in tandem with connecting themes. Participants can percolate on all they’re learning and start to build community across program types.

It was after the final Artful Meditation of the year that one of the women in our group spoke up. She felt the need to find a way to continue the meditation and slow viewing practice we had participated in with our new community of friends. There were many of us who felt this same desire, so she collected everyone’s contact information and this group continued to meet in and out of the Museum. We have still met virtually during the pandemic, a way to maintain a little bit of our normal lives to keep us connected from afar.

Emerging from the pandemic, I was thrilled to be offered a part of Art + Soul Sundays. As my colleagues and I met to brainstorm themes for this new program, we realized that the huge impact from COVID was that individuals were feeling depressed and overwhelmed. We tried to uncover where our piece of the puzzle fit in the healing process for our community. Our objective was to plan four meditation events per year and have them all complement each other, as well as the other monthly Art + Soul programs.

During hard times, whether it be COVID, chronic pain, or loneliness, it is the sense of community that keeps one going. Access, shared experiences, laughter, connection, and joy. What I’ve seen through the years with Art + Wellness programming is that the Crocker is willing to adapt and is not afraid of trying new things when they notice that the community's needs are changing. And, regardless of the execution, art is there. Soul is there. Connection and community are all there.

Across my experiences at the Museum, I feel as if I’ve learned from the other participants tremendously. There is a profound reciprocity in diving deep and listening to what other people are feeling. Every time I come into the Crocker, there is something magically energetic about the visit. Most museums are not interactive enough; they are more static, staid, and frozen in time. But the Crocker, to me, is a living, breathing, interactive family and community.

It takes courage to take a risk and try to learn something new. The Crocker is like a big, colorful pot where creativity, letting go, and not judging yourself are all just stirring around. I’ve seen the Museum change, and change for the better. It is a place where people can be brave; they can take off their armor and take a risk, try something new, and be open to what comes in return.

This post was written by Teresa Davis and edited by Crocker staff for clarity.

The Crocker Art Museum is committed to reducing barriers and increasing accessibility to the Museum and art experiences. The Art Access initiative provides programs and services to help ensure art is available to everyone. Visit our calendar to discover upcoming Art + Wellness programs, or enjoy some of the Crocker’s digital Wellness programs here.