Mindful Mondays: The Best Life-Saving “Drug” I Found

Written by Carl Nassar, President of Heart Centered Counseling

Mindful Mondays: The Best Life-Saving “Drug” I Found

Therapy saved my life. That wouldn’t come as a surprise to you if video footage of my childhood was available for you to view.

The screen would zoom in on a boy whose constant companion was loneliness. A boy whose imaginary friend Bucky tried valiantly, but without success, to fill the relational void. You’d discover a boy attending a religious elementary school promoting the fear of God over the love of God, and a fear of the world rather than a love for it.

In therapy, I came to understand how my past was shaping my future (Freud called it “the transference of everyday life,” and Berne labeled it “replaying your life script”). I learned how my scared-ness was trampling over my vitality (Perlz called it the “dilemma of secondary Gestalts”). I learned what it looked like to open my heart, first to my own pain, as something to go through (and not around), and then to the world, as a way to lean in (instead of leaning out).

I loved therapy. It helped me to reclaim my excitement and energy for life. It also gave me my voice. That love grew into a professional desire to become a therapist myself. I wanted to help good people realize that they no longer needed to simply get by in this life, but rather to discover and learn to thrive. I wanted to help others work through the traumas (of childhood and later life) to become the people they’re meant to be—to find their voice in the world and to use it to express all of who they are, in its endless unfolding.

After 20 years in the field, I’m more convinced than ever that the popular song from 1965 speaks a profound truth, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love…” and, while not in the song, I might add a line about therapy being a beautiful way to discover that love within ourselves.

I’m more convinced now than ever that each of us can become the hope we long to see in the world. I believe this so much that I created a video series called “What if a Therapist Reported the News?” It’s my way of helping people break free from the paralysis of waiting for the news to change, and instead encouraging each one of us to find the courage—in how we live our everyday lives—to take the small steps that allow us to create the news we’re waiting for.

As we come to the end of our time together in this blog post, I want to share my gratitude for you…not only for taking the time to read this, but for each small act of courage—each small step toward kindness—you show in your everyday life. Because one final lesson therapy taught me was that each us matter far more than we image, and each small act adds up to create a new world, even if we don’t see its dawning quite yet.

Carl Nassar is known differently to different people. To some, he’s a professional counselor offering a safe space to reclaim hope and tenderness. To others he’s the president of Heart Centered Counseling, supporting a team of 250 providers that together provide access to a counseling and psychiatric care throughout Colorado (www.heartcenteredcounselors.com). And to those who find his YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW3MmwKez76a51rQRp17qwQ/), Carl offers a thoughtful and inspiring answer to the question What if a Therapist Reported the News?

 

To stay informed on the latest Mental Health: Mind Matters programs and experiences, visit the Mind Matters webpage and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Don’t forget to tag us in your experiences when you visit the museum to help us #MakeItOk. 

We look forward to welcoming you to FCMoD to experience this amazing exhibit!  

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Mindful Mondays: Local Mental Health Resources

Mindful Mondays: Local Mental Health Resources

The Mental Health: Mind Matters special exhibition opens the door to greater understanding, conversations, and empathy toward the challenges of mental health. It’s just one way our community can come together to reduce the stigma and #MakeItOK to talk about mental health.  

It’s okay to ask for help. There are many resources available here in our community to support you or anyone you know who might be struggling with their mental health. 

Experiencing a mental health crisis? 24/7/365 support is available through Colorado Crisis Services: Call1-800-493-TALK (8255) or text HOME to 741741. 

FCMoD is grateful to be working directly with these community partners on programming and community outreach: 

Alliance for Suicide Prevention – We prevent suicide in Larimer County through training and education, providing outreach, and offering support. 

Colorado State University – Child Trauma and Resilience Assessment Center – The Child Trauma and Resilience Assessment Center provides resilience-based trauma assessments and offers recommendations that focus on helping youth and families recognize, understand, and value their own strengths in responding to and healing from trauma. 

Early Childhood Council of Larimer County – Leap Coalition – Strengthening and connecting our systems so that all young children in Larimer County, Colorado will be supported in their social development and emotional wellbeing in a culturally responsive manner. 

Foundations Counseling – Foundations Counseling provides a proven, collaborative approach to counseling in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Windsor, Colorado. We offer caring, expert assistance in an environment built around personal respect and dignity. Throughout Northern Colorado our experienced therapists rely on time-tested and proven techniques to help you find your way.  

Health District of Northern Larimer County – The Health District of Northern Larimer County is a public agency that has been meeting local healthcare needs since 1960. Today, we provided residents of northern Larimer County with dental, mental health and preventive health services. The Connections program offers answers, offers and support to individuals and families looking for help with mental health or substance abuse concerns. CAYAC (Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Connections) is a service of Connections that helps young people (up to age 24) with the early identification, assessment/testing, and treatment of mental health and substance abuse concerns. Connections also offers regular classes and trainings to the public, often at no cost. 

Heart Centered Counseling – Heart Centered Counselors provides caring support for the people of Colorado. We counsel people to get them through the hard times, through the broken hearts, and through the painful emotions. We are a growing team of 200+ counselors who provide a comprehensive therapy practice. 

Larimer County Behavioral Health Services – Through a publicly approved .25% Sales and Use tax, Behavioral Health Services responsibly invests in community-driven work to increase access to behavioral health services and improves outcomes for all Larimer County residents. 

Music Minds Matter – We are committed to supporting the brain health and mental wellness of music communities everywhere. 

Poudre School District – Counseling Department – School counselors are vital members of every school’s education team. Currently, 80 professional school counselors serve students in 39 schools in Poudre School District, assisting kindergarten-12th grade students in academic success, college and career readiness, and social/emotional development. 

SummitStone Health Partners – For more than 60 years, SummitStone Health Partners has been transforming lives through recovery, renewal and respect by providing unsurpassed behavioral health prevention, intervention and treatment services in Larimer County. SummitStone provides more than 50 services dedicated to treating mental health and addiction disorders for people of all ages. 

Additional community resources highlighted within the exhibit or during programming: 

Carl Nassar, President of Heart Centered Counseling, reports on“What if a therapist reported the news?” 

Support for people experiencing homelessness is available through Homeward Alliance and the Murphy Center for Hope  

Healing and support for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color is being convened by the BIPOC Alliance 

CSU Center for Mindfulness 

Colorado Spirit COVID-19 Support Program – Larimer County

Colorado Spirit COVID-19 Support Program – Weld County

North Range Behavioral Health – At North Range Behavioral Health, we believe that everyone deserves high-quality treatment that leads to recovery. North Range Behavioral Health provides compassionate, comprehensive care for people who face mental health and addiction challenges. This organization is located in Weld County, and is also a provider of Colorado Crisis Services.

QPR Gatekeeper Training – The QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) mission is to reduce suicidal behaviors and save lives by providing innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention training. You can find local trainings on the website – SummitStone Health Partners provides monthly trainings that are also posted on the FCMoD calendar!

Colorado-National Collaborative for Suicide Prevention

Recordings of FCMoD’s Discovery Live mental health expert panels and events are available on YouTube 

We will continue adding resources to this post as they are shared by our community partners.

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Mindful Mondays: Celebración del Día de Muertos

Post written by Katie Auman from Poudre River Public Library District, originally posted October 17, 2019.

Celebración y Ofrenda del Día de Muertos

“La cultura es lo que, en la muerte, continúa siendo la vida.”

El día de muertos es una celebración de México y Latinoamérica donde cada año las familias se reúnen el 1 y 2 de noviembre para honrar a sus ancestros y seres queridos. El origen de esta celebración data cientos de años atrás cuando los Aztecas celebraban rituales durante el verano dedicados a la muerte. Después de la colonización, las fechas de las festividades se cambiaron para coincidir con creencias post-colombinas como “la noche de todos los santos.”

Desde entonces, esta celebración ha sido acogida en diferentes partes del mundo y se centra en honrar, recordar y celebrar la vida de aquellos que ya han partido.

Ofrenda

La ofrenda o altar es un elemento fundamental en esta tradición, la cual es cuidadosamente creada en honor de los familiares o personajes ilustres fallecidos. Es importante señalar que cada familia o individuo crea una ofrenda que es personal, compleja y que utiliza detalles y elementos que tienen un gran significado. En la siguiente imagen encontrará un breve resumen de algunos de estos elementos y sus significados.

 

Altares en miniatura para niños y familias

Es fácil crear un altar en miniatura del Día de Muertos inspirado en los altares más grandes que verán en las celebraciones tradicionales. Con este proyecto de “hágalo usted mismo”, podrá construir un altar incorporando los elementos tradicionales de una ofrenda con su toque personal, pero en un espacio más pequeño como una caja de zapatos.

Material:

  • Caja de zapatos
  • Papel construcción o papel de envoltura para cubrir su caja
  • Marcadores, crayones o pintura
  • Tela
  • Tijeras
  • Pegamento, cinta adhesiva o engrapadora
  • Vela
  • Flores / Cempazuchitl
  • Papel Picado
  • Calaveras de Azúcar
  • Fotografía de su ser querido
  • Vaso con agua
  • Algo para comer
  • Objetos de especial interés para su ser querido

Si no tiene estos artículos, ¡deje volar su imaginación! Haga sus propias flores con papel y dibuje sus decoraciones.

Paso 1

Utilice tela, papel construcción, marcadores, etc. para decorar la caja de zapatos en colores como morado, rosa mexicano, naranja y rojo. Cubra el interior y el exterior de la caja de zapatos.

Paso 2

Coloque una foto del ser querido que está honrando en el centro de la caja. Llene la caja con artículos que le recuerden a esa persona. Cualquier elemento puede ser una ofrenda – fotos, objetos de especial interés de su ser querido, pertenencias, etc.

Paso 3

Decore los espacios vacíos de la caja y añada alimentos o dulces.

Paso 4

Decore la orilla de la caja con flores, velas, papel picado y un pequeño vaso de agua. Estos elementos representan los cuatro elementos: la tierra, el fuego, el viento y el agua.

 

 

Día de Muertos Celebration

“Culture is what, in death, continues to be life.”

The Day of the Dead / Día de Muertos is an annual Mexican and Latin American celebration when families gather to honor the memory of deceased loved ones on November 1 and 2. Scholars trace the origins of this celebration back hundreds of years to Aztec festivals held during the summer. After colonization, the festivities were shifted to coincide with “All Saint’s Eve.”

Since then, the festivity has been celebrated all over the world and centers on honoring, remembering, and celebrating the lives of those who have departed.

Traditional Altar Display

One of the most visual parts of the Día de Muertos tradition is the altar, a carefully crafted centerpiece of the annual celebration. Each family or individual’s Día de Muertos altar is a complex and personal creation with incredible symbolism as each element included carries specific meaning. Here are the most important elements, from flowers to food to fire, and what they mean.

 

DIY Shoebox Altar for Kids and Families

It’s easy to create a Día de Muertos miniature altar modeled after the larger altars you’ll see at traditional celebrations. You can still follow the requirements of an authentic altar and personalize it, but in a smaller space. This is a great DIY craft for kids!

What you’ll need:

  • A shoebox
  • Construction paper or wrapping paper to cover your box
  • Markers, crayons, or paint
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Glue, tape, or stapler
  • Candle
  • Flowers / Cempazuchitl
  • Tissue paper / Papel Picado
  • Sugar Skull / Calaveras de Azúcar
  • A photograph of your loved one
  • A small glass with something to drink
  • Something to eat
  • Offerings (items of particular interest to your loved one)

If you don’t have these items, feel free to think outside the box and get creative! Create orange marigold flowers/cempazuchitl flowers out of paper or cut out and color your own decorations.

Step 1

Use your fabric, construction paper, markers, etc. to decorate the shoebox in colors like purple, pink, orange, and red. Cover the inside and the outside of the shoebox.

Step 2

Place a photo of your loved one you are honoring in the center of the box. Fill the box with items that remind you of that person. Any item can be an ofrenda – photos, objects, anything.

Step 3

Fill the remaining space in the shoebox with décor and add other treats and foods.

Step 4

Surround the box with flowers, candles, tissue paper, and small glass of water. These items represent the four elements of earth, fire, wind, and water.

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Mindful Mondays: The Feelings Volcano

Mindful Mondays: The Feelings Volcano

This activity is recommended for ages 5-11.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by a strong emotion? Maybe you were angry with a friend for taking your favorite book, or frustrated that you couldn’t figure out that math problem? We all have strong feelings sometimes, and that’s okay! Try this is a twist on the classic baking soda-and-vinegar volcano experiment, and explore why it’s important to express and regulate our emotions in healthy ways!

Supplies:

  • Empty plastic bottle or 8 oz cup 
  • Measuring cup 
  • Funnel 
  • 1 tbsp baking soda 
  • Distilled white vinegar 
  • Food coloring (if desired) 

Instructions:

  1. To get ready: Place the baking soda in the empty plastic bottle or 8 oz cup using the funnel. 
  2. Think about a time when you were overwhelmed by a strong emotion (feeling sad, embarrassed, mad, nervous, etc.). Talk with your grown up about what happened. What happened to make you feel this way? What did you do about it?
  3. Pour a little bit of vinegar into the measuring cup. (Add food coloring if desired). This vinegar represents the feelings you had in your story. Now, let’s say that instead of expressing your feelings and doing something to manage them, you let them keep building and building and building up inside of you!
  4. Add more vinegar “feelings” to the cup until it reaches the ½ cup mark. What do you think will happen when you act on your feelings by adding the vinegar to the baking soda?
  5. Pour the vinegar into the baking soda. What happened? All of those sour feelings came out!
  6. Time for another experiment! What if instead of letting those sour feelings build up, you did something to manage them? Maybe you talked to your grown up about how you were feeling, or maybe you took some long, deep breaths! When you take steps to manage them, your feelings aren’t so sour anymore – they’re more like water than vinegar! What do you think will happen if you add water to baking soda?
  7. Pour the water into the baking soda. What happened? This time, we didn’t let our emotions get the best of us!
  8. There’s nothing wrong with having feelings! They’re part of being human. But it’s important that we learn how to express and manage our feelings so that we can control them instead of them controlling us. Work with your grown up to make a list of ways you can express and manage your emotions in hard situations, when you sense a feelings volcano brewing! Some ideas you might include: 
  • Take 10 slow, deep breaths. 
  • Draw or write about your feelings. 
  • Talk about your feelings with a friend, family member, or teacher. 
  • Dance to your favorite song.  
  • Stretch your body. 
  • Hang your strategies up somewhere to reference throughout the year! 

 

Each mind matters. Taking care of our mental health is important to all of us – everywhere and always. Learn more by visiting FCMoD’s special exhibition Mental Health: Mind Matters, open through January 10th.

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Mindful Mondays: Let’s Talk About It!

Mindful Mondays: Let’s Talk About It!

The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery (FCMoD) is honored to bring the groundbreaking traveling exhibition Mental Health: Mind Matters to our community from October 3, 2020- January 10, 2021. With the generous support of our community partners this exhibit and the museum are free during the run of this exhibit 

In the fall of 2018, FCMoD secured this exhibit knowing that mental health would be a timely topic for our community. And while this topic was important two years ago, the need for us as individuals, neighbors, parents, children, community members and community leaders to engage in conversation about mental health and mental illness has only grown.

Between the COVID-19 public health crisis, economic recession, wildfires, and unrest around racial justice, the year 2020 has given us all our share of challenges. Although uncertainty and difficulties still walk with us through this time, so do the threads of hope and greater resiliencyThis year, we found new ways to connect with one another, had opportunities to challenge assumptions and reframe narratives, and refocused areas in our lives that we find to be most important. This exhibit provides yet another opportunity to step into a conversation that touches all of our lives, in an environment that is safe, welcoming and hopeful. 
 

Mental Health: Mind Matters is an interactivetrilingual exhibit that provides experiences for visitors of all ages to help open the door for greater understanding, conversations and empathy toward the challenges of mental health. Walking through the exhibit you will have the opportunity to engage with empathy-building experience like hearing from people – in their own words – about how mental illness affects their lives. Interactives like noise-distorting headphones help visitors experience the difficulties some people have with symptoms of psychosis. Another interactive lets you dance around to learn about the connection between physical activity and mental wellnessTest your knowledge with a multi-player quiz about common misperceptions around mental illnesses and mental health. Anchored toward the back of the exhibit, you can check out a resource area that includes both children and adult activities, books and other helpful resources on mental health. Don’t forget to visit the Worry Shredder to shred your worries away! These are just some of the many incredible experiences in this remarkable exhibit. 
 

Working with our community partners, FCMoD will feature virtual and in-person programming throughout the dates of this exhibit. Forest therapy walks encourage participants to relax in nature. FCMoD’s virtual lecture series, Discovery Live, offers opportunities to hear from the mental health experts in our community and learn about the amazing work their organizations are doing. Programming in the museum’s gallery demonstrates different mindfulness techniques and relaxation activities. Visit fcmod.org to find the programs that resonate with you and learn how to take this conversation to the next level. 

As you consider visiting FCMoD, we want you to know about our deep commitment to keeping you safe during your visit. Gallery hosts regularly clean the museum throughout the day, with special attention to high-touch areas. All visitors over the age of two to are required to wear a face covering, and contact information will be requested at the beginning of the visit to help with contact tracingAlthough the museum is free through January 10, ticket reservations are required to help manage capacity and appropriate physical distancing. Groups 15 should contact the museum to reserve blocks of tickets. Ticketing information is available on the Plan Your Visit webpage. 

 

To stay informed on the latest Mental Health: Mind Matters programs and experiences, visit the Mind Matters webpage and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Don’t forget to tag us in your experiences when you visit the museum to help us #MakeItOk. 

We look forward to welcoming you to FCMoD to experience this amazing exhibit!  

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The Know-It-All Turned Student

Post written by Adam Goss, regular attendee of DomeLab.

The Know-It-All Turned Student

Like many artists before me, I think I know everything. I think my eye for design is better than everyone else’s, and that my aesthetic choices are best. I think I can do better than others where their projects have fallen short. I think that working alone is the only way to achieve perfection. At least that’s how I used to think before I started coming to DomeLab at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery (FCMoD). Nowadays, I’m the student. But for good reason.

The first time I watched a show in the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater was during the first (now annual) Fort Collins Fringe Festival in 2015. I watched an experimental show that combined practical effects, recorded 360-degree video, and live acting. The resolution was low, and I was a hard critic on the show. After all, it’s easy to be a critic. It’s easy to say, “I could do better.” Through regular meetups at the Dome, these people I was so critical of would eventually become my friends, and further down the road, collaborators on projects.

It was around this time that the Digital Dome Manager, Ben Gondrez, reached out to me via my hobby website – DIY Planetarium – and invited me to come tour the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater. I had recently finished college and had been helping people build inflatable domes for the past six years. I enjoyed dabbling in content creation in Blender; it was something I loved doing, but something I had never taken seriously.

Ben gave the most gracious tour of the Dome, its server room, and control console, ending with a long chat about planetariums and software. Before leaving, I asked the question that had been burning at my insides the entire time, “Are there any openings at the Dome?”

The museum was adjusting to its new facility and didn’t have any openings at the time, but Ben mentioned a new meetup that he was starting called DomeLab. Every other week, anyone was welcome to come to the Dome to share their creative works and collaborate with others. I was intrigued.

That evening, I went home and installed Blender for the first time in 2 years. I had 2 weeks to put something together to show at the next meetup. I decided to model a Mars crew transport prototype. I was rendering frames round the clock on every laptop I could bring back to working order. At my first DomeLab meetup, I only had 30 seconds of video to show, but I was excited to see how it looked.

The meetup had a handful of members, all of different backgrounds. Some were video producers, some were audio engineers, and some people were there just because they’d heard about DomeLab online – maybe like you are now! Ben spent some time showing us the Dome, its speakers and server racks, and talked about how to get things up on the Dome. Unlike a flat 16:9 movie screen, the dome requires a 180-degree fisheye projection, which requires a very skilled hand, or (more commonly) a fisheye camera – be it a physical camera or a virtual camera with a 3-D rendering engine. As a Blender user, I had rendered my frames using Cycles’ Fisheye Equidistant projection and was crossing my fingers that everything would look right on the Dome.

At long last, it was time to view my clip, and lo and behold, it worked. It wasn’t anything special, just a 6-wheeled vehicle crawling across a low-polygon Mars surface for 30 seconds, but to me, it was one of the most awesome experiences I’d had to date.

“Here was something I spent 2 weeks creating, and now I was viewing it in a gigantic full-dome theater… and the most amazing part is that Ben and FCMoD are opening their doors to the public for this every other week!”

Here was something I spent 2 weeks creating, and now I was viewing it in a gigantic full-dome theater, with a 5.1 Dolby speaker system that made my home setup sound like it wasn’t even trying. It is a content creator’s dream – viewing your work on a state of the art system, and the most amazing part is that Ben and FCMoD are opening their doors to the public for this every other week!

Over the next 6 months, I came to DomeLab on and off. I loved it, but as before, I wasn’t taking animation seriously. So, I decided to start taking DomeLab seriously in the summer of 2016 and began coming to every meetup. Since I live in Broomfield, this was a 2-hour driving commitment, but I felt it would be a good investment. As it turned out, this was truer than I ever could have imagined.

So why has DomeLab been so awesome? For starters, 2 weeks is “a long time” but at the same time, not that much time. It gave me enough time to put something together for the next meetup, while still keeping the pressure on to not procrastinate. For me, procrastination is my Achilles heel, and this was the fire I needed to keep growing creatively.

“….this was the fire I needed to keep growing creatively.”

I started watching Blender tutorials on YouTube for the first time in years. I tried new techniques. My modeling skills got better, and within a year, I had landed a small Dome animation contract. DomeLab really kept me growing creatively, and it’s hard to imagine how much further behind I’d be if I hadn’t started attending regularly.

Up to this point, I’ve talked mostly about me, and I’d like to talk about the other, and perhaps most important part of DomeLab: the people. I’d like to start with Ben Gondrez. For nearly 4 years now (and perhaps even longer), Ben has managed the Dome, and has opened the Dome to the public every other Tuesday, all because he believes in supporting local art projects. I’ve been around long enough to know that most museums are a walled garden, and rarely collaborate so closely with the community. FCMoD is different. Ben wants people to come in and experiment in the dome. He encourages first time members to come back with ANYTHING so that we can play it in the Dome. He invites musicians to come in and perform music. He coaches people and offers suggestions to people who want to “figure out this whole dome thing.” As a community, Ben is such an incredible asset to arts and creative works, and even after 3+ years of attending DomeLab, I can’t believe how lucky we are to have a museum that welcomes the public, and a Dome manager who cares enough to facilitate meetups.

The other side of the people equation at DomeLab are the members. During the beginning of DomeLab, members would come and go, but around 2 years ago, people started staying. We now have around a dozen “regulars” and almost always a few first-time guests. These members have humbled my creative arrogance and have shown me that I don’t know everything after all.

One of the members is building his own ray-tracing/path-tracing render engine from the ground up using linear algebra in C++. He creates mind-blowing abstract visualizations that are synchronized to his original electronic musical compositions. Another member is a Unity developer who creates interactive video games for the Dome that can be controlled from any cell phone or tablet – think multiplayer Asteroids for the Dome! There are members who create kaleidoscopic music visualizations in AfterEffects, videographers who share their 360-degree treasure hunting episodes with us, and musicians who come in to play music while Ben live VJs on the Dome.

“Every meetup is different, and every time I make new friends.”

I have learned to leave my ego at the door, and to enter with an open mind and heart. I could pick any random person at DomeLab and be guaranteed to learn something new. I have had the privilege of collaborating on several projects with these fine creative minds, and I can’t imagine life without DomeLab.

Sometimes, you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself, and DomeLab is the perfect tool to keep my ego in check while helping me grow creatively. The Dome is awesome. Ben is awesome. The people are awesome.

If you’ve made it to the end of my post, I hope to see you at the next meetup!

Happy Blending!

 

Interested in DomeLab?

DomeLab at FCMoD is an open meetup for anyone who wants to stretch their creativity in the dome. Whether you are a digital artist, painter, musician, DJ, VJ, photographer, or even a programmer this is for you! DomeLab is open and free to anyone interested in creating and collaborating on projects of all types so bring your creativity and #doitinadome!

For more information about DomeLab click here to join our Facebook group.

 

All images courtesy of Adam Goss.

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Pictures at an Exhibition

Visiting a new exhibit at a museum can be a moment of perfection. Freshly painted walls, meticulously hung pieces, descriptive text, and targeted lighting all combine to create an experience that takes the viewer to a new place and offers a fresh perspective on the world.

But believe us when we say that getting there is quite a journey!

Here are a few pictures of the assembly process going on right now at FCMoD for the upcoming exhibit Earth from Space, opening November 18.

Exhibit panels freshly printed and laid out to dry.

This exhibit – part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) – features spectacular satellite imagery collected over the past 30 years which allows us to observe oceans, mountains, land surfaces, and human activity with a unique perspective. Rare views of events such as dust storms, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes are accompanied by text that explains how satellite imagery is gathered and utilized. Included in the exhibit is a digital video globe that displays global processes such as ocean temperature and weather patterns.

Museum staff install a vinyl image in one of the exhibit’s window alcoves.

Come see Earth from Space, at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, opening November 18.

Museum staff prep an exhibit component for installation.
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Art as Science: Early Botanical Artists

RARE II – at FCMoD from May 6 to August 6 – is an exhibit of contemporary botanical illustrations depicting globally imperiled plants found in Colorado. Members of the Rocky Mountain Society of Botanical Artists created these works of art using the Master List of Rare Plants (produced by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program). I hope you have a chance to see this rare combination of scientific accuracy, aesthetic appeal, and technical mastery.

Which brings me to my subject today:  a glimpse at the role botanical illustration played in the early history of science.

Surgeons traveling with the Roman army – including Greeks Dioscorides (circa 40-90 AD) and Galen (131-200 AD) – compiled herbals (text + drawings) that remained the primary materia medica texts for centuries (by some accounts, at least 1500 years). Herbalism traditions were preserved through the middle ages in the monasteries of Britain and Europe, where monks copied and translated works of  Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Galen, and non-Western scientists like Ibn Sina (aka Avicenna). The advent of the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century created unprecedented access to mass-produced books, some of which included botanical illustration. (Details in this paragraph drawn from the University of Virginia’s Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, exhibits.hsl.virginia.edu/herbs/brief-history/ ).

So, Printing press + Woodcut illustrations (later lithographs) = Beautiful botanical books of both scientific and aesthetic value.

For more details about the background of botanical illustration, check out these folks:

  • 16th century, Leonhart Fuchs
  • 17th century, Maria Sibylla Merian
  • 18th century, Pierre-Joseph Redouté
  • 19th century, Pieter de Pannemaeker (Ghent) and Emily Stackhouse (Cornwall)

And enjoy the Rare II exhibit!

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