2015 Projects

The Artfulness Initiative: Art as a Tool for Mindfulness

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“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh.

Mindfulness can be described as a mental state achieved through nonjudgmental awareness and acknowledgement of thoughts and physical/feelings in the present. Preliminary data suggests that mindfulness exercises are effective in decreasing burnout rates of oncology nurses, who are responsible for managing care of cancer patients and working with their family members. Burnout, however, is not only felt within the healthcare fields. Mindfulness-based stress reduction programs have proven effective for reducing perceived stress in the workplace (Wolever et al, 2012). VCU faculty and staff experience pressures at work, from family responsibilities, or from financial stressors. Seeking mindfulness through therapeutic arts practices and paradigms has the potential to maximize health benefits for broadly diverse populations.

Through the Artfulness Initiative, VCU is poised to develop and pilot an online modular curriculum in mindfulness through the therapeutic arts. The program will be designed to be adaptable for various environments, but is intended to be piloted online with VCU faculty and staff. In time we see the Artfulness Initiative being implemented with community organizations, such as Boys and Girls Clubs or the Richmond Peace Education Center; in educational settings both within VCU through course offerings, and outside VCU, such as arts, mentorship, or after-school programs in K-12 public schools; and in community college programs and courses, or continuing education programs.


Dvora Courtland, Program Manager, Graduate Studies, VCU School of Business
George Deeb, Associate Professor and Director of Implant Programs, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, School of Dentistry
Sarah Golding, Instructor and Director of Undergraduate Research, Department of Biology
Arnold Kemp, Chair and Associate Professor, Painting and Printmaking, School of the Arts
Whitney Lovelady, Assistant Director, Transfer Center, Division of Strategic Enrollment Management
Tito Luna, Neighborhood Outreach Director, Division of Community Engagement
Molly Ransone, Assistant Director of Learning Media Innovation, Academic Learning Transformation Lab, VCU ALT Lab, Division of Learning Innovation and Student Success
Mary Shelden, Associate Professor, Department of Focused Inquiry, Division of Learning Innovation and Student Success


Jonathan Becker, Director, Online Academic Programs and Learning Innovation

Quest for Distinction Theme

Theme II: Attain distinction as a fully integrated urban, public research university through contributions in human health, research, scholarship and creative expression that advance knowledge and enhance the quality of life