Sharing the Art of Nature

By Luci Westphal
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St. Pete Moving Still

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The visual, biophilic, and social art project “St. Pete Moving Still” brings nature indoors – especially to those who cannot easily visit the great outdoors.

Still from the video “Boyd Hill Trail”

In 2022, I received a St. Petersburg Arts Alliance Individual Artist Grant to create and launch the initial phase of the multi-disciplinary art project I hope will reach beyond St. Petersburg to help improve people’s well-being.

As a documentary filmmaker (All God’s Children, All’s Well and Fair, Moving Postcard) and photographer, I had been looking for a way to combine these visual art disciplines and conceived the “Moving Stills.”

Moving Still “Morning Beach Path” in a resident’s room in the Westminster Nursing Center

Moving Stills” are portable frames, also known as digital photo frames. Each features a different image that may at first appear to be just a photo, until the viewer detects some movement…

Each frame, in fact, features a long video playing on an endless loop. The “St. Pete Moving Still” videos are either a landscape or a close-up of a detail in nature – all filmed in and around St. Petersburg – without camera movement, editing or any sound.

Moving Still Frame with Milkweed Butterfly from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

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Unlike a documentary film, which can inform and excite and demand full attention, these moving stills are intended to be calming, and just subtly invigorating without causing demands or uncertainty. Yet unlike a photo (or a video still), there’s movement, there’s life.

Moving Still – Gulf Water Moves – video excerpt without frame from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

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Based on the theory of biophilic art that helps us pause and connect with our natural selves, I initiated “St. Pete Moving Still” to improve people’s emotional, mental and physical well-being, as it connects the viewer to nature while stuck indoors. The aim is to trigger joy, calm and a connection to positive memories and the beneficial effects of nature.

Biophilia, the idea that humans are formed by, and long for, connection to nature, is known as a key to personal restoration. Connecting with nature can be medicine for the mind. There’s even research into how observing nature imagery can lower blood pressure and ease pain.

Luci Westphal and Westminster resident during presentation

As a social art project, I’ve been working with staff and residents at the Westminster Suncoast Senior Living Nursing Center in St. Petersburg since August.

On November 2, at an invite-only reception for Westminster residents, I unveiled the “St. Pete Moving Still” frames. Since then, Nursing Center residents have been able to borrow these portable frames for their rooms. Priority was given to those who can’t leave their rooms any longer. Several frames are also accessible in shared community spaces.

Westminster Resident Ingried viewing a Moving Still

Here’s where you can view
“St. Pete Moving Still”
. . .
Monday, November 14, 6:30–8 pm
Westminster Suncoast – Quak Center
1095 Pinellas Point Dr S, St. Pete
This event is free and open to the public.
Since it’s a gated community, RSVPs are strongly encouraged.
Please email or call/text (727) 266-6925.
Details here

Thursday, November 17, 6–9 pm
“Bohemian Night” – New quarterly art and culture event and
opening reception for exhibit with three 2022 SPAA grant recipients
from Historic Kenwood (Letisia Cruz, Michael Satino, Luci Westphal).
The Kenwood Gables Boutique B&B
2801 7th Avenue North, St. Pete
This event is free and open to the public
Details here

Moving Still featuring Clam Bayou

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