Breathe With Me: A Wandering Sculpture Trail

May 21 – October 17, 2021

When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in this silent awareness. There is no need of words. A big part of dadirri is listening…. There is no need to reflect too much and to do a lot of thinking. It is just being aware.

-Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann


Breathe With Me: A Wandering Sculpture Trail is a direct response to the stress and isolation we are all experiencing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Inspired by the Aboriginal practice of dadirri (deep listening) articulated by Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, Breathe With Me provides an opportunity for visitors of all ages to be outdoors, slow down and immerse themselves in the healing power of nature.

Kluge-Ruhe has collaborated with UVA’s Department of Art and Contemplative Sciences Center to create an outdoor art experience on its scenic hilltop location. Visitors to the sculpture trail will follow a meandering path mown through the museum’s back meadow, encountering “sculpture stops” along the way. Sculpture professor Bill Bennett’s students have created 13 sculptures, each designed to highlight or react to their specific site. Students in professor Jayme Siet’s “Mindfulness and Nature” course composed prompts that visitors can access through a QR code on their phones. The prompts are both playful and reflective, designed to help visitors slow down, observe their surroundings and embrace moments of connection with nature.

An increasing number of scientific studies have proved what Indigenous people around the world have known for centuries: that nature is a restorative force. Time spent outdoors reduces blood pressure and stress hormone levels while enhancing the immune system. In fact, the effects of spending even brief periods of time outdoors are shown to have positive biological benefits for weeks afterward.

Breathe With Me invites visitors to extend their museum experience and expand their visit beyond the museum walls. It is an opportunity to be safely outdoors while contemplating how both art and nature can challenge, nourish and soothe us.

Visitors to the sculpture trail are asked to make a reservation. Visitors may also choose to lengthen their outdoor time by adding the public trails adjacent to the museum at Martha Jefferson Hospital.

We are so grateful to…

  • Professor Bill Bennett and the student sculptors: Bahestha Azizi, Sharon Chong, Stephanie DeHart, Maryam Ghanem, Nicholas Hall, Addison Keatts, Audrey Lewis, Parker Pearce, Calista Rieken, Calvin Tilson, and Isabella Whitfield, as well as studio assistant/KR Visitor Services Specialist/sculptor Ed Miller. We also thank the first-semester sculpture students who designed walking sticks for the journey: Olivia Burke, Selina Cheng, Erin Dubas, Alex Galina, Pilar Grover, Bankes Haden, Hannah Hervey, December Murphy, Jenna Owens, Amelia Margaret and Marion Pearson.
  • Professor Jayme Siet and her “Mindfulness and Nature” students for writing the reflect prompts
  • Our community commenters who gave the sculptors valuable feedback on their ideas and execution: Danny Ashby, Kristen Chiacchia, Anastasia Dakouri-Hild, Mona El Khafif, Belinda Gordon, Katherine Hansen, Anuja Jaitly, Roberto Kamide, Dan Mahon, Eric Ramirez-Weaver, Sarah Sargent, Joe Schepps, Jill Trischman-Marks, and Diane Whaley.
  • Members of the sculpture community who volunteered to assist the student sculptors: Anne Clark, Charlie Lambert, Chris McDaniel, James Nemer, Eric Schmidt.
  • Businesses who donated materials: Jim Cibula and Giving tree Custom Saw Milling for slab wood, Lowe’s Inc for conduit for wind chimes and Luck Quarry for stone.