Slow Art Day is Saturday, April 9, 2016 Join Us!
Photo by Greg Neville

Slow Art Day News

Slow Art Day 2015 – in 200+ museums and galleries

April 12th, 2015

Slow Art Day 2015 was a great success.

On Saturday, April 11, 2015, we had 200+ venues around the world – from Shanghai to Ghana, from Paris to Brooklyn, from a site in Russia to the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama.

View photos, write-ups, articles, and quotes from attendees here:

– Twitter – https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=slowartday2015
– Instagram – search for hashtag “slowartday”
– Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/SlowArtDay/posts_to_page
– Google News – https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=slow+art+day&tbm=nws

Slow Art Day 2016 is Saturday, April 9, 2016.

We have a number of efforts and initiatives that we work on year-round. If you are interested in volunteering – or interning – please get in touch with us right away. We’d love your help!

– Phil Terry and the Slow Art Day team

The Art of Observation – in Art & Medicine

April 5th, 2015

Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina. When Ann Grimaldi, curator of education at the Weatherspoon Art Museum and one of our 2015 global hosts, learned about Slow Art Day a few years ago, she liked its simplicity, its focus on just looking, and its connection to the “Art of Seeing” program that she runs.

“The Art of Seeing” brings together students from nursing, kinesiology, nutrition, and physical therapy to learn observation skills that can help them become better healers. Among the techniques Ann teaches: simple looking, breathing, taking it all in, not interpreting, and slowing down.

For Slow Art Day this year, Ann will borrow from her program to help participants experience a “contemplative looking practice” by pausing, observing, and reflecting. She has chosen a variety of artworks from the Weatherspoon’s contemporary collection. Often contemporary art can be challenging, Ann says, noting its “ambiguity.” She feels that learning to spend time with something that may make us uncomfortable is a skill that is important for everyone, not just her students. And we at Slow Art Day agree – in fact, we’ve found that contemporary art can be a terrific choice for slow looking.

Ann adds she’s also asked Weatherspoon docents to be involved with Slow Art Day. Interestingly, they will be acting both as timekeepers and as moderators for the discussions that follow the slow viewing.

Hoping that some of the 200 community members and students interested in Slow Food and sustainability who meet at the Weatherspoon monthly will join other participations for another “slow” experience, she’s looking forward to a good Slow Art Day in Greensboro at the Weatherspoon Art Museum.

Links & Info:
Weatherspoon Art Museum – http://weatherspoon.uncg.edu
Ann Grimaldi Curator of Education | Weatherspoon Art Museum The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

– written by Linda Wiggen Kraft, Veteran Slow Art Day Host

Making time for slower digital experiences in museums

January 29th, 2015

Here at Slow Art Day we focus on how visitors engage with physical works of art – how paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other media are perceived, considered, and experienced by the viewer. But in our digital age, museums are increasingly trying to deliver “snackable” digital content – short bursts of entertaining and enlightening information delivered through social media initiatives or interactive installations. In an article published by The Guardian earlier this week, Danny Birchall, Digital Manager at London’s Wellcome Collection, eloquently makes the case that digital or virtual engagements with artworks allow for the same unhurried, slow potential as physical interactions. Birchall writes, “[…] if museums can deliver snacks, why not three-course meals? Is there space in museums for slower and longer digital experiences for audiences to savour and enjoy?” Birchall uses the Wellcome Collection’s Mindcraft, an immersive and interactive tool that describes the history of hypnotism over the course of a six-chapter digital story, as a case study for his article. However, even the relatively long-form (for the digital realm) Mindcraft is only about 15 minutes long – a fraction of the length of your typical Slow Art Day event. Is this enough to ensure visitors’ full engagement with digital content? Can museums offer an immersive, engaging digital experience that avoids superficiality and truly deepens the visitor’s experience of a work of art without relying on gimmicks?

Read the article “Museums should make time for slower digital experiences” here and tell us your thoughts!

The starting point of the Wellcome Collection's "Mindcraft" story-telling experience, a virtual means of engaging the museum's audience with its collection.

The starting point of the Wellcome Collection’s “Mindcraft” story-telling experience, a virtual means of engaging the museum’s audience with its collection.

The Ancient Way of Slow Looking

October 27th, 2014

When we walk into a museum or gallery nowadays, we are instantly confronted with a rather large number of artifacts which demand our attention. I always find myself pondering where to start my journey. Is it with this painting to my left? How about this wonderful African mask straight ahead? While museums and galleries are generally quiet and peaceful places, they nevertheless hold enough artifacts to potentially overwhelm the visitor.

It’s true that we don’t spend enough time actually looking at a painting anymore. In fact, we spend more time reading the description underneath it than contemplating the painting itself. Even though we attempt to return to contemplation with the help of Slow Art Day, there is nevertheless a crucial element in today’s paintings that is not always beneficial to slow looking.

When we stand in front of a painting, the whole scenery is present before us. It’s not entirely surprising that we spend little time on contemplating paintings. We think that because everything is there in laid out in front of us at one time, we don’t have to work very hard at the act of looking. It’s certainly beneficial to those always-in-haste people that today paintings are not unrolled and displayed gradually, as traditional Chinese scroll paintings were.

Hanging scrolls and hand scrolls were common features in Chinese painting, which often featured beautiful landscapes – mountains and waterfalls in particular. Painters infused their works with Taoist thoughts and beliefs such as simplicity, which was, in part, made visible in the use of monochrome textures, i.e. black and white. It finds its most extreme application in Zen painting; works famous for their black ink on white rice paper.

The often meters-long scrolls had two main goals. First was the delayed contemplation. The viewer was unable to quickly grasp the entire scenery, because the scroll had been unrolled scene after scene, so that the viewing process lasted longer than we spend on paintings (even during Slow Art Day!).  And then there was the narrative aspect, the ancient precursor of film if you will, long before photography paved the way for the development of cinema. The step-by-step unraveling of the scroll allowed for a narrative development. It thus contained not only one scenery, but several, which were linked to one another and formed a painterly entertainment for the viewers. It was a slow pleasure, in a way like a slow film, which takes its time to develop.

Scroll painting from the Chinese Sung Dynasty by Chang Tse-Twan

Scroll painting from the Chinese Sung Dynasty by Chang Tse-Twan

The above painting is a five metre long scroll from the Chinese Sung Dynasty (c. 960-1126), painted by Chang Tse-Twan. It is considered as a scroll painting that stands at the beginning of narrative development in Chinese painting. While nowadays we would see the entire scroll displayed at once, in those days viewers only saw parts of it, one after the other. It is not difficult to see how the slow unrolling of the scroll created a heightened pleasure for the audience. I often wish that painters would return to this form of painting that not only creates a work of quietness, but also generates excitement over what we will see next in the scroll; a real journey through a painting.

– Nadin