“Poetry Workshop” centers itself on meditation

“Art is Good for You” series focuses its attention on making a better you.

By Angela Thompson, Staff Writer

Valley College’s Art Gallery has created the “Art is Good for You” series and has kicked off their workshops with the unexpected in its “Poetry Workshop” focusing on meditation and mantras.

Guest speaker Enoch Yang started off the March 31 workshop by introducing himself as a musician and a gay man, briefly mentioning his struggles and making sure to keep the participants’ focus on the collective group. Yang made sure to keep the group “empowered through mantras” before guiding the participants through a body scan meditation.

“I don’t want to be the focus of today’s workshop,” said Yang. “I’d rather have our collective experience be the focus.”

As he gently told the guests to focus on their bodies and their breath, behind him was a chalkboard and on it were written three phrases, “Do Good, Be Kind, Love Generosity.” On the other side were two keyboards leaning against the wall.

Yang briefly explained why he focused the workshop on mantras and meditation. He explained how, after many years of struggle, these tools were instrumental to him and helped deconstruct trauma that he had gone through.

Yang’s struggles also shine through in his music, as his EP titled “Honest” is described by Alan Welding in Pittsburgh Music Magazine as “ a rollercoaster ride of personal introspection at a crossroads in life that is like a sonic biography with a clear beginning, middle, and end.”

Yang guided the group of about 12 participants through two meditations from beginning to end. He helped the group pick a mantra by putting a list of suggestions in the group chat, including words like worthy, confidant, free, strength, peace, loved and others.

After the last meditation, Yang encouraged the party to open their eyes slowly, “like the sun peaks over the horizon at the first light of dawn.” He then encouraged a creation session, to write or draw whatever entered their minds in the moment of meditation.

Valley Art Gallery Director Jenene Nagy said she hopes to create a magazine of all of the art and writing that participants create from the “Art is Good for You” series. She encouraged participants to email her their art after the session was over.

“Hopefully people think of art as a little bit more freeing,” said Nagy.

In the coming weeks, there will be one more workshop to attend. Edgar Fabián Frías will be hosting an image-making and collage workshop on May 5 from 1-2:30pm. The Zoom link to the free workshop can be found on the Valley Art Gallery page.