Soul-Healing With New York Art And Adventures

My first NYC adventure brought me solitude and artistic enlightenment. I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in upper Manhattan to compose sketches of ten of my favorite paintings for a painting class assignment. On a cloudy Saturday, I made my way to the MET with nothing more than my sketchbook, a pack of art pens, and my wallet.

I knew the MET was every New York artist’s dream but I discovered that the MET is also an escape from reality, a passage through different times and places. In one room I was a Christian from the 16th century. In another I was a French child playing on the shores of the Seine. 

One Egon Schiele sketch captivated me: “Girl 1918.” It was not a grand painting or sculpture, but a simple sketch of a nude girl, leaning over the arm of a chair on her right side, in a somewhat sitting, somewhat lying posture, as she stares forward, relaxed and mouth slightly opened, towards the unseen artist Schiele. I pictured myself as this girl in this tranquil position.

As I sketched the complexities of the girl’s human form, I realized why this specific nude sketch stood out to me. Prior to visiting the MET, I was recovering from a messy breakup. An ex had been out of my life for about four months. But for some reason, whether out of loneliness or hatred, he decided to drag me down on the internet. I found myself in the same heartbroken, mistreated funk I had been in four months ago. When I saw “Girl 1918,” I had found an art piece that reflected my disheartened state and vulnerability.

Immersed in the early stages of my sketch, I had to get up from the bench and move closer to work to mimic the exact lines and movement Schiele achieved. Suddenly, I heard a man from behind me ask if I wanted to borrow a pencil. I guess he had seen that I was sketching with pens. I accepted his offer and started again on my sketch, finishing just as the man returned. When I gave him back his pencil, the man complimented my work and I was overjoyed. I had felt what the girl had felt.

I saw many more resonating art pieces. Otto Friedrich’s “Scherzo” (1913) displays nude children playing on a beach, and it reminded me of my joyous, carefree upbringing in the islands. Instead of the flowery subjects on that flower-speckled beach Friedrich painted, I thought of my friends and family in place of the flowers. 

The following Saturday, I went on another adventure, this time not alone. My friends and I went to Central Park right before sunset. We watched as the sun descended behind the skyscrapers in the distance, so far away from us as we perched on this boulder revealing the green expanse before us. It felt nice to be surrounded by trees, which seemed to envelope us, completely hiding our views of the city. This is forest bathing in New York City. Forest bathing, for those of you that haven’t heard of it, is the Japanese therapeutic practice of shinrin-yoku, when one becomes connected to nature through one’s senses. 

I spied a man playing a beautiful string instrument underneath an old yet beautiful tree. His music seemed to be an extension of that tree into another art form, from living to musical. I wish I had money to give to him. Live music, no matter the kind, touches my soul, especially when it seems to be an embodiment of Central Park itself.

My time at the MET and Central Park were moments of healing. Those paintings reminded me that although heartbreak has remained through mankind’s history, love of oneself, of art, and friends has lasted as well. Being surrounded by people that make you laugh like a child. Being immersed in nature is the best medicine for a a funk. New York can be a very busy place, so it’s nice to find those special places where you can chill and regain your composure; don’t let the fast pace knock you off your feet.

  1. If you’re feeling down, go connect with some art.
  2. Whenever you need relief, venture to nature spots and connect with the Earth.
  3. If these don’t relate to you, then there are a million other options that will bring you peace, joy, or comfort.

By Solana Joan Suazo


Solana is a freshman at NYU Steinhardt, studying art and psychology. Solana spends many hours walking around lower Manhattan with her friends, sketching in the park, or finding new inspirations for her art around the city. When she isn’t playing volleyball or meditating, she’s usually watching Game of Thrones with her roommate, daydreaming about California beaches and buys, or painting a new picture for art class. She loves coffee, chocolate, and ramen, of course.

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