On Wednesday nights, when Judson becomes an arts venue (always free for both artists and audience, always live, always uncensored), the Meeting Room looks different. The LaFarge windows only suggest the saints and angels within themselves; there are more shadows, the Vignette on the Instagram turned all the way up; more ways to be ambiguous, more ways to hide and then emerge.
In the dimmed room, as the Judson staff and the artists of Undiscovered Countries worked together to set the stage for the show, I was reminded of why Judson Arts Wednesdays are so important, both for us as a faith community and for the artists who come to work and perform there. There was the lighting, the sound system, the microphones carefully placed and adjusted; the infrastructure often barely visible to an audience, but so important for artists to be able to access as they grow their art and the audience for it. Before the show even started, I was grateful just for that, for the columns holding up our aging building, for the people who take such good care of both it and the people who take spiritual, artistic, and religious shelter within it.
And then it was a gift, too, to sit back and enjoy the art in the middle of a busy week. I don’t often make it out to Judson midweek, but I was already there for the last meeting of Judson Discovery, so I decided to stick around for the show. It was a variety show, with actors and dancers and musicians, and although dance is the art form I usually struggle with the most, I found myself enjoying the dancers the most. I loved Ania Upstill’s almost vaudevillean approach to a dance that broke the fourth wall (and the walls of a cardboard box); Laura Laderman’s ode to the interplay between movement and stillness, pairing dance with a mindfulness meditation in which she reminded the audience that “your body knows how to hold itself together” made me marvel at her mastery of motion while taking a moment to remember that one need not always be in motion.
My body is in such motion throughout the week. Art reminded me to be still. And thanks to Judson Arts Wednesdays and the artists who share their art there, that stillness is available to everyone.