Quarter Moon April 14, 2020

Art Monastery Quarantine Social Sculpture

As all things COVID-19 were just unfolding a few weeks ago, here at the Art Monastery, we asked (and continue to ask), how can we be of benefit? The Art Monastery, a small, land-based, residential non-profit has been finding ways to use creativity and contemplative practice to create counter culture for over 10 years. What is our role in a global pandemic?

On March 19, we created the Art Monastery Quarantine Social Sculpture. Our decision was to offer a refuge, with intention, to directly address isolation, the cause of so much dis-ease—especially for folx in urban areas. The 14-day residency refuge project responsibly treats the real concerns about coronavirus community transmission by creating a social container on the property where no one leaves.

Basically, we invited folx to come from other places, even high risk places like NYC, to our home in Vermont. When the last, of what has turned out to be a 6-person group, arrived, we began a 14-day quarantine.

We spent a long time talking about about the risk we were taking. What if we get sick? What if everyone who comes gets the virus? What if someone were to die? These are not lighthearted questions. We knew that we’d need to strictly self-quarantine as a group in order to not spread the risk to our local area.

We decided to do it.

***It’s important to note that this was in mid-March, and things are different now. Everyone in our group is also under 50 and with no severe respiratory health concerns. Each person joining the quarantine did their own risk assessment to decide if this choice was right for them.***

We all have our own plates/bowls/silverware, we sanitize collectively touched surfaces twice a day, and wash our hands constantly. Our 14th day was last week. No one has had any symptoms. And, maybe it’s counter intuitive to some, but we still share hugs and sit on the couch together. We decided that the physical and social contact was important to the health of our quarantine community.

In this participatory art piece / social sculpture, we have been living with the question: How to Be of Benefit During Overwhelming Times? Here’s some of our practices:

  • Caring for ourselves, caring for each other, caring for the broader world.
  • Maintain a daily and weekly schedule, regularly clean and uplift our physical spaces, eat good food, share meals together, go outside regularly.
  • Cheer each other up, really hear each other’s fear, and ask how can we extend compassion and spaciousness out.
  • Making offerings for each other in community.
  • Weekly artshares.
  • Outreach: Calling one person who might need that each day. Mailing art. Online meditation gatherings, meditation classes, yoga classes, and inspirational writings.

We practice silence everyday until noon. This gives everyone time and space to have their own experiences, even during this time of close quarters. We meditate and sing together every day to help maintain basic mental and physical health. We eat dinner together every night by candlelight and offer a chance for each person to check in about how their day was and how they are feeling.

In the end, we experienced this to be an incredibly supportive container in which to weather this storm. Having a few other people to be with, talk to, and hug has been hugely helpful as we all navigate so much fear and so many unknowns.

We are in the process of deciding how we will move forward now that our 14-day period is complete. Will we invite another round of people? Will we continue on as a group?

If there is any way our quarantine group can be of service or benefit to you, please reach out to info@artmonastery.org.

The Artmonks