Embodying Values and Finding Sanctuaries in Time

A Message From ArtWell Executive Director Susan Teegen

Dear Friends,

I’m thrilled to be back after having an opportunity to personally live out the ethos of our ArtWell programs throughout my Sabbatical. Thanks to your dedicated support and that of our Board and staff, our programs never missed a beat—more on this exciting work below. Since returning to ArtWell in mid-October, I have been struck by both the absolute necessity and profound scarcity of time for spaciousness, rest, and re-creation in individuals’ lives and work.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel teaches that Sabbath is a “Sanctuary in Time” that infuses work and life with breath, connection to the sacred, and restored and amplified energy needed to live out our purpose with peace and joy every day.

While on sabbatical, I treasured exploring inner and outer landscapes at home, as well as in northern Minnesota, New Mexico, and Michigan. I got lost in wonder and gazed at amazing horizons, and peered through fresh windows to the world.

I was inspired by the brilliant poetry of Nayyirah Waheed who proclaims: “I want work that is a relentless oasis!”

While I was experiencing a “relentless oasis” on sabbatical, renewing my focus and engaging in a depth of inner work not possible during regular work rhythms, ArtWell’s team was busy fostering sanctuaries with our students, partners, and leaders. I want to express profound gratitude to Program Director Julia Terry, who provided extraordinary leadership as Acting Executive Director while I was away, as well as to our entire staff and Board! Our team has been hard at work carrying out intensive programming and initiatives including:

  • School year programs in 42 classrooms at 19 sites across Philadelphia. This is the most classrooms that we have ever provided with our traditional ArtWell programs at no cost.
  • The designation of two new DeepWell sites, for a total of four schools and one camp: Parkway West High School, Rhoads Elementary School, Taggart Middle School, Al-Aqsa Academy and Camp Sojourner Girls’ Leadership Camp.
  • Communications created for our Core Values which guide our work every day: Imagination, Healing, Social Justice, Spirituality, Community, and Love.
  • Participation in Compass’s 2017/2018 round of nonprofit clientsThis recently launched engagement will feature a plan for increasing program funding through our newly formed, adults-focused initiative ArtWell@Work.

A few days before returning, I participated in a Leadership Philadelphia workshop that focused on the current state of education in our city. I was stirred by the words of dynamic speakers including Linda Cliatt-Wayman, former Principal of Strawberry Mansion High School; Dr. William Hite, School District of Philadelphia Superintendent; and Dr. Ted Hershberg, Professor of Public Policy at Penn.

While our schools and communities face daunting challenges, they also benefit from creative and inspiring leadership. And while not every student seeks an arts education, I am more convinced than ever that multidisciplinary art and reflection processes aligned with 21st Century skill building are essential for an education that inspires and equips students to be strong leaders and citizens in a complex world.

Feeling a need for sanctuaries in time and relentless oasis in your own life? I would love to hear from you and explore how ArtWell might engage your workplace, community or faith-based organization to support your dreams for the lives you feel called to live.

With heartfelt thanks to all of our supporters, partners, and friends on this ever expanding journey!


Susan Teegen
Founder and Executive Director, ArtWell