GrARTitude Returns to the LWGRC Bringing Positivity During the Pandemic

by Kyla Guilfoil & Anna Woods, Staff Writer & Asst. News & Features Editor 

The Lasallian Women and Gender Resource Center at Manhattan College is still diving into this semester with resources, support and activities despite the new virtual medium. GrARTitude made its first appearance this semester on Wednesday, Sept. 23. 

GrARTitude was brought to Manhattan College last fall by MC senior and intern for the LWGRC, Ireland Twiggs, with the assistance of the former LWGRC Graduate Assistant, Jo-Ann Mullooly. The program combines gratitude mindfulness practices with art. Twiggs found inspiration for the GrARTitude sessions through New York City based cartoonist Mari Andrew. 

“So I attended one of her art workshops last year in California and I felt really inspired by the work that we were doing,” said Twiggs.  “It was calming, and it centered me, but it also helped me become more reflective and grateful for the little things in my life, so I wanted to bring that back to campus, because I feel like we’re such a small campus and so many people are involved with so much, so it’s really easy to experience burnout and overworking. So I wanted to really create a place in the center where students could come together and do art and fun things while also being reflective and grateful at the same time. So that’s kind of what I imagined [grartitude] to look like and what I wanted it to be in the center.”

Twiggs hoped that bringing the practice of GrARTitude to MC would help students learn how to use creative outlets to center themselves, appreciate the little things, and take a break from stress and distractions.

The first event of the semester focused on analyzing gratitude amidst the pandemic. Camryn Holly, a senior communication major at MC, attended the first session last Wednesday. The session’s activities included creating a pie chart that showed the things you gained or were grateful for coming out of quarantine last spring.

“This meeting’s focus was on gratitude in the time of COVID, so one of my pie slices was that I got to spend a lot of time with my family this summer, because I don’t know if I’ll ever get that much time with them again,” Holly said. “I also put the release of Taylor Swift’s “folklore” album, because that was a big quarantine moment.”

Twiggs and Rabea Ali, a graduate assistant for LWGRC, both emphasized the importance of community in the GrARTitude sessions. 

“I think it’s great that even on Google Meet, but especially in person, how everyone was just like ‘look what I did’ and I just think that was the most wholesome moment of community, but I also just love the creative spin of processing [gratitude],” Ali said of what she loves about GrARTitude.

Ali sees that the need for spaces like GrARTitude is more important than ever. The LWGRC hopes to increase the frequency of the event in the upcoming weeks. 

“Last fall and spring GrARTitude happened once a month and it had a good following,” Ali said. “Students enjoyed it so we figured that since we have the capacity for it let’s reup for every two weeks, which is twice a month. And that is the goal for October so we’ll see how that goes and pivot it to November depending on what the students prefer.” 

The Center has a semester worth of great programming lined up; their next event is a lecture sponsored with campus ministry called a Slice of Social Justice: “The Pandemic, The Protests, and Racial Justice: How Disasters Shape Social Change” with Jordan Pascoe, Ph.D. and Mitch Stripling. This event will take place on Wednesday Sept. 30 at 12:00 p.m. The best way to keep up to date with the Center is through their Instagram @mc_lwgrc.