Drawing Encourages Slow Looking at The Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, one of the Smithsonian Institution’s 19 museums in Washington, DC, participated in its second annual Slow Art Day by merging two of their existing programs that encourage slow looking: How to Look at Art and Hirshhorn/DRAW.

The museum’s Slow Art Day event led 150 participants through four simultaneous 30-60 minute sessions paired with a single artwork. Participants were given tips on how to slowly enjoy artwork without having any background information on the work. They were also provided with seats and drawing materials, and were invited to slow down and enjoy the works through drawing.

Participants drawing one of the selected works at the Hirshhorn’s Slow Art Day event.

A Smithsonian Fulbright Fellow participant stated:

“I am extremely grateful for the family-friendly drawing programs – my kids benefited more than I did! My 10 year-old spent 45 minutes drawing (she forgot that she said she was hungry) and was very proud of herself.”

We love to hear how Slow Art Day events foster joy and creativity, and can’t wait to see what The Hirshhorn has in store for Slow Art Day 2020.

– Ashley

Slow Looking at Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre in Australia

For their second Slow Art Day event, the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre in Murwillumbah, Australia facilitated three slow-looking sessions focused on different exhibitions throughout the day: one focused on the full collection, a second focused on artist Maria Kontis’s drawing exhibition, and a third focused on the Margaret Olley Art Centre.

Slow Art Day participants discussing works at the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre

In addition to Slow Art Day, the Gallery’s Education and Audience Development Officer Jodi Ferrari has been programming Slow Art Experiences at the Gallery over the past year. Jodi reports that these experiences are valuable for a wide range of audiences, and mentioned that the gallery also uses the slow art format for engagement with visitors living with dementia and their care partners.

We love to hear how organizations extend the art of looking slowly beyond our global Slow Art Day – especially applications for health and wellness – and look forward to the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre’s participation in 2020.

– Ashley

Norwalk Arts Commission Hosts Slow-looking of WPA Murals

The Norwalk Arts Commission in Norwalk, CT, hosted its first Slow Art Day in their City Hall Galleries, which holds one of the largest and most important collections of restored Depression-era Works Project Administration (WPA) murals in the country.

Docent Melissa Slattery started the event by giving a talk about WPA artists, then guided participants to slowly enjoy several beach-themed murals by WPA artist Alexander Rummler. They followed with a discussion of their experience over brunch.

Docent Melissa Slattery gives a talk about Alexander Rummler’s Self-Portrait.
Photo: Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

We look forward to Norwalk Arts Commission’s participation in 2020!

– Ashley

The Power Plant Hosts Successful Third Slow Art Day; and Mid-year Roundtable with Phil Terry

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto, Ontario, Canada hosted a successful third Slow Art Day in 2019, led by Kendra Campbell, TD Curator of Education & Outreach Fellow. Kendra guided participants to look slowly at one work of art in each of three exhibitions: Shuvinai Ashoona: Mapping WorldsAlicia Henry: Witnessing; and Omar Ba: Same Dream.

She then led a group discussion about the participants’ perceptions of slow looking. They discussed their personal connections with the artworks, which revealed startling similarities.

Participants viewing work from Shuvinai Ashoona: Mapping Worlds.
Slow Art Day 2019 at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto, Ontario, Canada). Saturday, April, 6, 2019.
Participants viewing work from Alicia Henry: Witnessing.
Slow Art Day 2019 at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto, Ontario, Canada). Saturday, April, 6, 2019.

On Wednesday, July 3, 2019, The Power Plant also hosted Phil Terry, the founder of Slow Art Day, for a roundtable discussion with Toronto-area organizations that have hosted, or aspire to host, their own Slow Art Day. Each of the educators and curators talked about their designs for Slow Art Day, and what worked and what did not.

Phil Terry, center back of the table, meets with Toronto host venues at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto, Ontario, Canada). Photo: Josh Heuman.

The Power Plant’s new TD Fellow, Laura Demers, will be ready to guide the next Slow Art Day on Saturday 4, April 2020, and we look forward to seeing what she has in store for the event.

– Ashley

Philadelphia Slows Down to Reveal the Magic of Mosaic

For Slow Art Day 2019 Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens’ Garden Guide Rob led a group of 15 people in a slow-looking activity focusing on a portion of the beautiful mosaic that encompasses the entire folk art environment and gallery space on South Street in Philadelphia.

Portion of mosaic wall by Isaiah Zagar, Philadelphia Magic Gardens

After slowly taking in all the details of the portion Rob had chosen, the guests then shared what they saw including certain tiles and shapes that are typically overlooked. That was their first discovery of the day: slow looking can make the invisible visible (and cause participants to wonder at how much we humans do not see unless we slow down). Rob also pointed out and gave background on additional often-unseen elements.

Their second and, perhaps, biggest discovery of the day – the “aha” moment – came when the participants realized that through their slow looking in the mirror pieces they themselves had become part of the mosaic. 

We look forward to the Philadelphia Magic Gardens Slow Art Day 2020.

– Ashley

OCAD University’s Slow Art Day Reveals Tiny Details

OCAD University Gallery in Toronto hosted a successful second Slow Art Day in 2019. They reported that both participants and guides alike enjoyed slowing down.

Both guides and participants were encouraged to look and then talk about the artworks. They made several discoveries.

First, they found how each person’s way of seeing the world affected the experience. In other words, slowing down helped them see not only the art but themselves and each other in new ways.

They also learned how the art of slow looking can reveal even the smallest details and “nuances” that seem invisible at first and then almost magically appear the longer you look.

“In the quietness of looking, our eyes wandered and caught the tiniest details in hopes of deciphering hidden nuances.”

Khadijah Morley, OCAD University Gallery Staff Member
Installation view: How to Breathe Forever, Onsite Gallery, OCAD University, Toronto, 2019 (Photo: Yuula Benivolski)

We look forward to OCAD University’s participation in Slow Art Day 2020.

– Ashley

Inhotim Brazil Slows Down for Art and Nature

2019 was the first year Slow Art Day came to Brazil’s largest foundation of contemporary art, Inhotim, which is also one of the largest outdoor art centers in Latin America. Located in Brumadinho (Minas Gerais), just 60 km (30 miles) away from Belo Horizonte, the Institute has a total area of 1942.25 acres in the biome of the Atlantic Forest.

Renan Zandomenico, educator and mediator, began the Slow Art Day experience in the central area of the Institute, where he says the memory of the past and the present combine in diverse species groups, and where the main tree, Enterolobium contortisiliquum, names the space.

After leaving the central area, the Slow Art Day visitors walked slowly over to their first artwork, Bisected triangle, Interior curve, 2002, by Dan Graham.

“Walking along the lakes slowly and seeing the integration of art and nature, we entered and stayed in Dan Graham’s Bisected triangle, Interior curve, 2002. Slowing down allowed us to experience how Graham’s distorted glass subverts the colors and shapes of the trees and buses and of the other artworks surrounding the area,” said Zandomenico (see photo below).

Slow Art Day 2019 participants looking out and through Dan Graham’s Bisected triangle, Interior curve, 2002 (photo by Daniela Paoliello)

The program continued by slowly entering nearby pavilions which house the works La intimidad de la luz en St Ives: Inhotim, 1997, by Argentine artist Victor Grippo, and Black ³, 2008, by North American artist Robert Irwin. In the pavilions, Zandomenico asked the participants to slow down and contemplate the nuances of light while also listening to the “breath of nature.”

They then went to their final artwork Im Here, But nothing, 2000, by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Her work allowed them to “pause and search for details and memories through the ultra-violet and domestic atmosphere” created by Kusama’s art.

They finished Slow Art Day in the garden with conversation and a breathing exercise next to the blue palm (Bismarckia nobilis). The participants talked about how slowing down surprised them and allowed them to see and be inspired by art and nature (and art in nature) in new ways.

Inhotim was clearly able to provide Slow Art Day 2019 participants with a powerful meditative and multi-sensory experience. We look forward to their 2020 participation.

– Ashley

Youth Lead Art Institute of Chicago’s Third Slow Art Day

The Art Institute of Chicago had a stellar third Slow Art Day, with 377 visitors of all ages participating in a three hour event designed and led by *13* teenagers.

Statue of a Young Satyr Wearing a Theater Mask of Silenos, ca. 1st century CE. Anonymous sculptor, with 1628 restorations by Alessandro Algardi

The teen guides selected 6 artworks to feature from across the museum’s broad collection. With support from the museum’s staff, they generated conversation starters with participants, posed open-ended questions, and employed strategies to keep visitors engaged throughout the experience.

 Frans Snyder, Still Life with Dead Game, Fruits, and Vegetables in a Market 1614
Glenn Ligon, Stranger in the Village #13

We often hear that slow looking is not for young people – they don’t have the time or attention. They are digital natives and not interested in real space. But many Slow Art Day museums have successfully run programs with teenagers and kids as young as four or five years old, and with this event, the Art Institute of Chicago proves yet again that art is – and must be – for everyone.

We look forward to seeing what the Art Institute comes up with for Slow Art Day 2020.

– Ashley

Magaliesburg’s Multi-sensory Slow Art Day 2019

Gallery owner Hannelie Hartman welcomed participants of all ages to the third Slow Art Day at MelonRouge in Magaliesburg, South Africa.

The event was facilitated by Dr. Sonja Brink, a Learning through Play Ambassador for the Lego Foundation, who, when not involved in Slow Art Day, teaches the Setswana language to South African children and adults through song and movement.

Working with MelonRouge, she came up with a creative multi-sensory design that started with a brief talk on the link between art and information through the ages. She discussed ways to use art to cultivate focus and presence when feeling overwhelmed by technology overload (Ed: this is one of the key reasons Slow Art Day was started a decade ago – to create an antidote to technology’s growing dominance).

After Dr. Brink’s talk, participants were then blindfolded and given a fragrant piece of clay to smell and touch in order to kickstart their senses for the multi-sensory slow looking program they were about to experience.

Blindfolds were then removed and participants starting looking at a painting titled “Injasuthi Valley,” by artist Frances Wedepohl (below). As they slowly gazed, viewers were encouraged to touch and smell a variety of natural materials, including grasses and branches.

“Injasuthi Valley,” by artist Frances Wedepohl

Next, Dr. Brink brought the participants to slowly experience artwork by artist trio Louisa Staude, Louel Staude, and Heinz Schnölzer, titled “An Ode to Fynbos” (below). Visitors were invited to immerse themselves in the essence of this art through exploring the textures, smells and music composed specifically for the installation.

“An Ode to Fynbos” by artist trio Louisa and Louel Staude, and Heinz Schnölzer

Then, during the third viewing, participants were encouraged to taste a range of sweet, sour, and salty candies while slowly savoring artist Trevor Rose’s tryptic titled, “Life’s Journey” (below).

“Life’s Journey” by artist Trevor Rose

With the level of detail, playfulness, and creative multi-sensory focus, this Slow Art Day 2019 was a “resounding success”, with Dr. Brink noting that for both her and the participants “it was amazing!”

We look forward to whatever creative designs MelonRouge and Dr. Brink come up with for Slow Art Day 2020.

– Ashley

Insightful Day at Columbia Museum of Art

Slow Art Day 2019 at the Columbia Museum of Art attracted a small but very invested group of participants. At each stop along the way they experienced the art from a different perspective, whether a deep visual dive, a multi-sensory experience, or a complex conversation about the details within a piece.

The participant conversations were fruitful, and resulted in insights that the docents used in later tours.

We look forward to Columbia Museum of Art’s participation in 2020!

– Ashley