Art and Awareness As A Catalyst for Healing - MoMA NY

Join neuroscientist and medical anthropologist Dr. Sará King and sound artist and composer Orlando Villarraga in a 90-minute, immersive exploration of the relationship between individual and collective awareness and the capacity we all have for transformation and healing. Opening and closing remarks will be offered by Dr. Angel Acosta, director of the Garrison Institute’s Fellowship Program and creative director at the NYC Healing Collective, drawing on Acosta’s knowledge of collective trauma, social justice, and mindfulness.

Participants will have a chance to engage with Dr. King’s Systems-Based Awareness Map (SBAM) to consider their internal world and how it connects to their perception of and responses to the world around them. Works of art from MoMA’s collection will act as catalysts for participants to consider the complexity of identity, personal truths, and what it means to be in the world. This program asks, “Can art guide us in a deeper understanding of ourselves, moving us toward individual transformation and healing, and can that then play a role in our collective healing and well-being?” Throughout this guided experience there will be opportunities for discussion, movement, and reflection, all enhanced by contemplative music and meditations, and invitations for creative responses.

This program is part of the Artful Practices for Well-Being initiative at MoMA and is related to the Art and Science of Hope and Justice event. In this program, we will not be sharing art-historical information, but instead will focus on being with art, ourselves, and one another with full awareness. We suggest having a writing or drawing instrument and something to write or draw on to engage with this program. Participants will receive resources about the artworks in a post-program email, along with a survey inviting reflection about the experience.


Dr. Sará King is a mother, neuroscientist, political and learning scientist, education philosopher, social-entrepreneur, public speaker, and certified yoga and mindfulness meditation instructor. She specializes in the study of the relationship between mindfulness, art, complementary alternative medicine, community health, and social justice. She is currently an NIH post-doctoral fellow in neurology at OHSU in the Oregon Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine in Neurological Disorders, a Garrison Institute Fellow and Society for Neuroscience Associate, and a member of Google’s Vitality Lab well-being think tank. She is also the founder of MindHeart Consulting, a scientific consulting firm through which she offers up a Science of Social Justice framework for healing intergenerational trauma.

Orlando Villarraga loves to express himself as a poet, musician, and sound artist. The recent focus of his work has been composing soundscapes that accompany various modalities of art, with the intention of supporting people in dropping into a space of deep listening and feeling. Villarraga often finds himself living “in-between” worlds, and draws from that complex and nuanced space as inspiration for his creations. His approach for his work has come at an intersection of studying under the Teyuna Indigenous cultures of Colombia, and undertaking mentorship in contemporary sound meditation practices. His work intends to hold a mirror to our own meaningfulness and connection to nature, which is fertile soil for catalyzing connection within, and with, each other. He is currently a fellow at the Garrison Institute. He has also been invited to share his work and experiences in many places, such as NYU’s Love Class, the Interpersonal Neurobiology Conference, the Science and Nonduality Conference, and, most recently, MoMA.

Dr. Angel Acosta works to bridge the fields of leadership, social justice, and mindfulness. He completed his doctorate in the Curriculum and Teaching Department at Teachers College, Columbia University, and has supported educational leaders and their students by facilitating leadership trainings, creating pathways to higher education, and designing dynamic learning experiences. After participating in the Mind and Life Institute’s Academy for Contemplative Leadership, Acosta began consulting and developing learning experiences that weave leadership development with conversations about inequality and healing, to support educational leaders through contemplative and restorative practices. As a proud member of the New School–based 400 Years of Inequality Project, he designed the Contemplating 400 Years of Inequality Project. Acosta is currently the director of the Garrison Institute’s Fellowship Program. He also is the creative director at the NYC Healing Collective, a community initiative amplifying people and insights at the intersection of healing, wellness, and societal transformation.