Time Out

This is a busy time of year. There’s too much to be done in the few remaining weeks of the quarter, and everyone feels a bit rushed. So this month we’re highlighting some recent initiatives that encourage us to take time out—to engage in a focused way with the arts, and to use that experience to reconnect, refresh, and invigorate.

The third annual Frost Music and Arts Festival took place on Saturday, May 17. On stage, campus-based mash-up Paper Void joined psychedelic pop band Yeasayer as opening acts for the indie group Dispatch. The festival took place in mid-quarter 2014—right in the middle of exams and papers. But the experience was an afternoon out of time: a season in the sun that connected today’s students and community with the rich tradition of festivals in Frost Amphitheater. This year’s festival included a number of specially built student art projects: rain mazes, wind chimes, even giant teeter-totter swings! Over 3,000 people came together in the beautiful wooded grove at Frost and connected—live—around music and interactive art.

This month also saw the launch of a new campus program that encourages mindfulness, in part through engaging with the arts. Contemplation By Design is a project of BeWell at Stanford and is co-sponsored by the Stanford Arts Institute, Stanford Live, the Office of Student Activities and Leadership, the Health Improvement Program, and the Office for Religious Life.

On May 23, Stanford’s carillon bells chimed in a concert audible across campus. As the bells rang, the Stanford community took a moment to pause and reflect. Many attended a shared contemplation event at Dorhmann Grove, where they engaged in the event in different ways, including silent meditation or simple relaxation. The program will continue November 3-7, 2014, with specially designed workshops, classes, and concerts (including a noontime concert in Bing Concert Hall) focusing on the benefits of contemplative pauses.

In a similar vein, next academic year students will have access to the Windhover Contemplative Center, opening in fall 2014. This new facility near the New Guinea Sculpture Garden will feature the art of the late Nathan Oliveira and will be a space for students to practice contemplation and mindfulness during their busy day-to-day lives.

For those who are looking for a slightly more active engagement, this summer the Stanford Arts Institute will pilot a new BeWell fitness berry focused on campus art. Participants will have a chance to get up from their desks and get their hearts pumping as they briskly explore Stanford’s public art, as well as architectural highlights on campus. The berry will be led by Ellen Tani, a triathlete and PhD student in the Department of Art & Art History.

As the end of the year becomes hectic and hours seem to slip by unnoticed, we encourage everyone to take time out to engage with the arts. Attend a concert, a play—or a happening. Go to the Cantor Arts Center. Or spend time with a favorite outdoor sculpture. The arts are everywhere at Stanford. Your time will be richly repaid!