Art, Spirituality, and History: a Virtual Journey at the Art Gallery of Ontario

For their 8th Slow Art Day, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) – one of the largest art museums in North America – organized a virtual event on Zoom.

For the event, Art Educator Lauren Spring, guided participants in a close looking journey through expressionist and spiritual realms from post WWI Germany to Inuvialuit hamlet Tuktuyaaqtuuq in the 1950s.

They were invited to take a deep and slow look at works of art by German artist Käthe Kollwitz, British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor, and Inuit sculptor Bill Nasogaluak, exploring themes of family, interconnectedness, limits, transformation and transcendence, and considering how and why artists aspire to represent the most complex human emotions and experiences.

Käthe Kollwitz. Mütter, 1919. transfer lithograph on wove paper, Sheet: 52.2 × 62.9 cm. Gift of W. Gunther and Elizabeth S. Plaut, 1995. © Art Gallery of Ontario. 95/348

Bill Nasogaluak. Bear Tangled in Barbed Wire, date unknown. painted barbed steel wire; stone, Overall: 21.5 × 26 × 47.5 cm. Private Collection. © Bill Nasogaluak. AGO.119815

The Zoom event hosted many live participated as well as generated many likes and reshares across AGO’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we would like to thank Lauren Spring and her colleagues Melissa Smith, Natalie Lam, and Lexie Buchanan for organizing such an engaging virtual event. We are grateful for AGO’s long-term commitment to celebrating Slow Art Day, even during hard pandemic times.

We can’t wait to see what they come up with for their 9th Slow Art Day in 2023.

– Jessica, Johanna, Ashley, and Phyl

Seaside Sculpture Park Slow Art Day

Founding Slow Art Day host (and regular contributor to the Slow Art Day blog), artist Hedy Buzan organized an in-person slow-looking event at the Public Art Walk in Heisler Park Gazebo, Laguna Beach, California.

Below is the flyer that Hedy distributed in the beachside artist community of Laguna Beach.

Slow Art Day flyer

For this event, Hedy chose five public art sculptures at Heisler Park, and asked participants to look at each for five minutes. Below are photos of three of the sculptures.

Semper Momento (Never Forget), 911 Memorial, by Jorg Dubin

Continuous Rotation by Scott and Naomi Schoenherr

Breaching Whale by Jon Seeman

When we launched Slow Art Day in 2010, Hedy and about 30 other artists and volunteers ran ‘guerilla-style’ Slow Art Day events at museums, galleries, and sculpture parks. These were unofficial events because museums were not at first willing to participate. But after several years of running these clandestine slow-looking events, museums and galleries began to adopt Slow Art Day – which has now been officially sponsored by over 2,000 museums and galleries all over the world.

We thank Hedy for being one of the pioneers that made this whole movement possible and can’t wait to see what she comes up with for 2023.

Jessica Jane, Ashley and Phyl

P.S. – If you happen to be in Laguna Beach anytime this summer between June 24 and August 28, then look for Hedy Buzan’s booth at The Sawdust Art Festival and go thank her for helping to launch Slow Art Day.

Slow Art Week, Slavery, and the University of Alabama

For their first Slow Art Week, Sharony Green, Associate Professor of History at the University of Alabama, and Brandon Thompson, Director of the UA Gorgas House Museum worked with students and artists to create and display a public art installation that helped history students and the campus as a whole think slowly about slavery and Antebellum America.

Dr. Green (pictured below) and her “Antebellum America” class created a 63-foot burlap with individual pieces that were displayed as a work-in-progress on April 1, eve of Slow Art Day, and then hung from Gorgas House later in the month once finished. Further, Dr. Green invited students from her “America since 1865” class to come and look slowly at the work of their Antebellum-focused student colleagues.

Dr. Sharony Green (left) and her students (right)

In her blog, Dr Green suggested to students, faculty, and staff that they slow down to think about the “enslaved artisans, including women, who… sewed out of necessity and maybe even survival.”

She further explained that tapestry also “offers a chance to ponder what textiles represent in a modernizing country in the years leading to the Civil War and what textiles mean today when we celebrate all things ‘handmade’ and what Koritha Mitchell labels as ‘homemade citizenship.'”

Gorgas House shared a digital interview about the students’ process and Dr. Green also talked about the process in the YouTube video below.

2 minute YouTube video by Dr. Sharony Green

The event was a real success on campus and across the online landscape including WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin.

We encourage other professors to take inspiration from Dr. Green and think about how to weave Slow Art Day into their classes and campus museums – including, as Dr. Green has done, with classes outside of the studio art or art history departments.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we certainly look forward to what Dr. Green comes up with in 2023 to teach us how to look and think slowly about American history and its most challenging and troubling aspects.

Slow Art Day Keynote at Tiempo de Arte

The Slow Art Day collective delivered the closing keynote last Friday for Tiempo de Arte‘s conference in Spain. Our two European HQ members, Johanna Bokedal (Sweden) and Jessica Jane Nocella (Italy) traveled to Spain while our U.S.-based founder, Phyl Terry, participated via Zoom from New York.

The conference took place in the Centro Botín: an arts centre designed by Pritzker Prize-winner architect Renzo Piano, in collaboration with Luis Vidal and Architects. It is located between the city centre of Santander and the historic Pereda Garden, and the bay.

Centre Botín, Photo Credits: Johanna Bokedal

The conference was opened by the Organizing Committee of Tiempo de Arte, the Director of Centre Botín, the Mayor of Santander, and by the Tourism Director of Cantabria. Then, Writer Carl Honoré gave a talk on “La Revolución Slow: La Magia de la Lentitud” (lit.: the revolution of slow: the magic of slowness). In his engaging speech, Carl stressed the importance of slowing down in a high-speed world. He also talked about the importance of what he calls “the slow paradoxes” – i.e., how sometimes you can slow down to go fast, or how disconnecting from your phone can reconnect you to the world around you.

Carl’s talk was then followed by different interesting roundtables on various topics, which ranged from sustainable collecting to the role of humanism in the digital world.

Carl Honoré, La Revolución Slow: La Magia de la Lentitud”. Photo credits: Johanna Bokedal

On the second day, the conference opened with a dialogue between the award-winning chef Jesús Sánchez, and the sculpor José Luis Vicario. They talked about how encounters and meetings can be an opportunity to slow down and discover the beauty surrounding us. This was then followed by a roundtable on art, beauty and health where experts in psychology, art, and art therapy talked about the benefits of art in different contexts.

Professor, Psychologist, and Writer Alejandra Vallejo-Nágera engaged with the audience in a slow-listening activity. She invited us to close our eyes, listen to two cellos playing, and then to communicate the music through our hands as if we had to express it to someone who was hearing-impaired. One last roundtable on tourism and art was held by the Mayors of Santander, Malaga, and Madrid.

Roundtable on Art, Beauty, and Health. Photo credits: Johanna Bokedal.

The conference closed with our talk Slow Art Day: Design by Letting Go, which we delivered both in-person (Jessica and Johanna) and remotely (Phyl).

We began with a cross-continent slow looking exercise focused on Hans Hoffman’s Fantasia, the piece of art that kicked off the slow art revolution back in 2008.

Phyl Terry engaging the audience in a slow-looking activity

We then showed highlights from the 2,000+ Slow Art Day events that have been held around the world. Finally, we emphasized the radically decentralized nature of Slow Art Day and our mission to create an environment of radical inclusion.

We really enjoyed giving this multi-language (our talk was simultaneously translated into Spanish), multi-continent, multi-media talk. And Johanna and Jessica, who had been working together for years but had never met, loved spending two days together in real life.

Slow Art Day team engaging with the audience.

Slow Art Day HQ would like to thank Merche Zubiaga, Zaida De Las Heras, and Charo Izquierdo for inviting us to speak at their Tiempo de Arte event. We look forward to continuing to work with them to keep building the slow art movement.

Slow Art Day Bikeride to Sarehole Mill

To celebrate Slow Art Day 2021 when museums were locked down in England, artist Jo Essen, based in Birmingham, UK, organized a slow looking bike ride to Sarehole Mill.

The historical mill, today a museum and bakery, is well-known for its connection with J. R. R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He once lived across the road from the Mill, and it inspired his writings about Middle-earth.

Picture from the surroundings of Birmingham. Photo credits: Jo Essen.
Picture of nature. Photo credits: Jo Essen.

Essen shared an online video from the bike ride, and encouraged others in the pandemic lockdown to get out and do some slow looking. “It was wonderful to be involved in slow looking even when we were not able to visit museums,” said Jo Essen.

So, while the British Museum, Tate Modern, the Norton Simon Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, and many other large museums ran virtual (or in-person events), and while a number of smaller museums and galleries also ran Slow Art Day sessions, 2021 also included Jo Essen and her family looking slowly at nature and architecture.

Love that!

This report is a fitting final post for 2021, especially as we and the world struggle through yet another wave of the coronavirus. (Note: you can read all of our 2021 published reports, or wait for our 2021 annual report to be published in February of 2022.)

We hope you have a wonderful new year wherever you are in the world. And perhaps take some inspiration from Essen and go out and do some slow looking at nature, architecture, public art, or in museums and galleries, if they are open in your area.

Stay safe and healthy and get ready for yet another year of building the slow looking movement.

With love,

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

Mindful Slow Art Day in Singapore

For their first Slow Art Day, the gallery ARTualize in Singapore, Singapore, organized a Mindfulness with Paintings session, encouraging participants to combine mindfulness with slow looking.

On the 10th of April, ARTualize opened their two-hour session by introducing participants to some mindfulness techniques. Participants were then invited to look slowly and mindfully at selected paintings, including Low Hai Hong’s 海天一色 (literally: Sky and Sea). This was followed by discussion.

Low Hai Hong. 海天一色 (literally: Sky and Sea), from the collection Passion in Living – Paintings of Indonesia. Courtesy of ARTualize.

 

The gallery also hosts regular ‘Mindfulness with paintings’ sessions to get more people to discover the joy of looking at art. Sessions are held every Sunday from 2 to 4 pm.

Paintings on display in the gallery are also available for rent to give people the opportunity to experience the art in their own homes. Exhibited works are changed every two months. Click here to learn more.

At Slow Art Day HQ, our mission since 2010 has been to build a slow looking and mindfulness movement around the world. As a result, one of our goals has been to use the annual event to inspire museums and galleries to host regular slow looking sessions throughout the year.

We are happy to see that ARTualize are both participants and leaders in this movement and look forward to whatever they come up with for Slow Art Day 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

P.S. If you would like to follow ARTualize’s updates, you can follow them on their Facebook page.

Slow Art ‘Can Doers’: A British Museum Collaboration

For their first Slow Art Day, the British Museum, in London, UK, collaborated with the Can Do Project, a skills-development programme for people aged 16-35 with a disability or long-term health condition, run by the resendential care company Leonard Cheshire.

The week-long Zoom-based slow looking program was initiated by the British Museum’s Volunteer Coordinator for Access, Equality and Young People, Jessica Starns, along with Leonard Cheshire’s Programme Coordinator, Deborah Sciortino.

During sessions, participants were invited to take a long look at objects from the museum collection, and observe their shapes, contours and colors. These ‘Can Doers’ then gave their opinion on what they believed the objects were used for. Afterwards, a brief history about the object was shared by a facilitator to spark further discussion. In the final session, participants were asked to choose their favorite object and create a short presentation about it. Alongside looking at objects slowly, topics such as equality and diversity, employability skills, helping visitors to make sense of their visit to the museum, and online safety on social media were covered with help from the Leonard Cheshire Marketing Team.

‘Can Doer’ presenting an Egyptian Artwork on Zoom

On April 10, 2021, the events culminated with a presentation of the participants’ favorite objects in collaboration with the Keiken Collective, which worked with the group to develop object reveal Instagram filters and create digital postcards using 3D scanned museum objects on the 3D & AR platform Sketchfab. The collective took inspiration from the fact that the British Museum has been selling postcards for over one hundred years. The presentations were pre-recorded at home by participants, then played for the group in the live session.

Example of a 3D artwork created on Sketchfab

Thomas Winter, the Digital Marketing Volunteer at Leonard Cheshire, wrote a blog post about the events that is worth reading.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we are excited that the British Museum, together with the Can Do Project and the Keiken Collective, designed such an inclusive Slow Art Day event. It inspires all of us when educators and organizations collaborate to design new kinds of slow looking experiences.

We look forward to seeing what the British Museum comes up with for Slow Art Day in 2022 (and would love to see another collaboration).

Jessica, Johanna, Ashley, and Phyl

P.S. The British museum has an extensive volunteer programme which you can view here.

Slow Art Day in an 18th century building: Casa Regis

For their first Slow Art Day, Casa Regis, a non-profit association and centre for culture and contemporary art in Valdilana, Italy, featured local artists in a video and social-media-based event.

Casa Regis’ Facebook post of the event.
In the picture, Achill(a)/Frame, sculpture by Daniele Basso.

On April 10, 2021, art photographer and founder of Casa Regis, Mikelle Standbridge, uploaded a series of short videos of different artistic installations on the organization’s Instagram page.

The videos featured a soundscape of birds chirping, as Mikelle briefly introduces works by local artists Sissi Castellano, Daniele Basso, Carla Crosio, Michela Cavagna and herself. Note: the artists were selected and chosen in part because of the interesting juxtaposition of their work against the backdrop of the eighteenth-century building in which Casa Regis is located.

Below you can find pictures of the featured installations, links to the videos, and a brief description of each.

Screenshot from the short video of
Sissi Castellano’s installation I AM NOT AN ARTIST

Sissi Castellano‘s silkworm cocoon installation entitled‘ ‘I AM NOT AN ARTIST‘, is based on the Japanese Mingei philosophy of objects, which the artist follows. The Mingei approach simulatenaously focuses on the function and aesthetic value of common household objects.

You can view the installation and the above video here.

Daniele Basso. Hawk. Steel and white bronze sculpure. Picture taken from Casa Regis’ IG page.

Sculptor and artist Daniele Basso‘s ‘Hawk’, which comes from a series called Frames, is a stainless steel and white bronze sculpture. The artist plays with effects of mirroring, showing the complexity and the different levels of reality.

You can find a brief explanation and watch above video here.

Carla Crosio. Cancer. Picture taken from Casa Regis’ IG page.

Artist Carla Crosio‘s installation, entitled Cancer, is made of of marble, bronze and glass and it takes inspiration from her personal life.

View the above video here.

Michela Cavagna. Birth. Picture taken from Casa Regis’ IG page.

Fiber Artist Michela Cavagna‘s installation entitled ‘Birth’, is inspired by the Russian tale of Vassilissa.

You can view the video of the installation with a brief explanation here.

Screenshot from the short video of
Mikelle Standbridge’s installation Public Domain.

Mikelle Standbridge also included one of her works of art named ‘Public Domain’. This art work can be seen as a bridge between art and science.

View Part 1 and Part 2 of that video.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the use of video for creating slow looking environments. We recommend that our museum educator and curator friends around the world watch some of the short videos that Mikelle created.

We are also happy to report that their inaugural event was so successful that they then planned in-person Slow Art day events for the rest of 2021. Excellent!

We look forward to whatever Casa Regis comes up with for Slow Art Day 2022.

Jessica, Johanna, Ashley, and Phyl

PS: A press release of the event is available in Italian here.

Slow Art with Kandinsky at the Norton Simon Museum

For their 6th Slow Art Day, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, designed a virtual slow looking event focused on the Russian painter Vassily Kandinsky’s painting Heavy Circles.

Vassily Kandinsky, 1927. Heavy Circles.
Oil on canvas. 22-1/2 x 20-1/2 in. (57.2 x 52.1 cm) Courtesy of Norton Simon Museum

On April 10, 2021, the museum posted Kandinsky’s artwork along with slow looking prompts to their Instagram page. Viewers were invited to focus on an area of the painting that drew their eye, then turn their attention to how this area relates to the surrounding sections. Then visitors were asked to consider the entire painting, contemplating how the different parts relate to each other.

The post was a great success, and was liked 1,087 times.

Mariko Tu, who has been the Manager of Youth and Family Programs at the Norton Simon for the last seven years, let us know that this is her last year at the museum.

We want to take a moment to thank Mariko for her longtime leadership in the Slow Art Day movement. We love the slow looking events Mariko has designed over the years and look forward to doing some slow looking with her wherever she goes from here (see her great 2020 session design here).

In the meantime, we look forward to what the Norton Simon creates next year for Slow Art Day 2022.

Johanna, Ashley, Jessica, and Phyl

Looking, Writing, Making, and Mindfulness at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

On April 10, 2021, the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hosted both in-person and virtual sessions for their 7th Slow Art Day.

For the in-person activity, visitors were first introduced to the concept of slow looking, and were then invited to practice what they learned as they walked through the museum. Participants were encouraged to share their experiences on social media and tag the museum with #PMASlowArtDay.

Printed Textile Swatch (detail), 1935–59, made by Soieries F. Ducharne
Printed Textile Swatch (detail), 1935–59, made by Soieries F. Ducharne (France, 1920–1972), 2014-144-190a. Picture used to advertise the Slow Art Day event on the Philadephia Museum of Art website in April.

The virtual event consisted of four separate Zoom sessions focused on slow looking, writing, making, and mindfulness.

Slow Looking

For the slow looking session, participants were encouraged to use a naturalist’s attention to detail when looking at still life paintings. Using tools like the Google Art & Education app allowed them to zoom in and experience works of art in a different way compared to in-person.

Detail of Antoine Berjon, 1819.
Still Life with Flowers, Shells, a Shark’s Head, and Petrifications. Oil on canvas, 42 1/2 × 34 9/16 inches (108 × 87.8 cm) [from the Slow Looking Zoom session hosted by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2021]

Slow Making

The Slow Making session took the form of a workshop inspired by the work of artist Judith Rothschild. For this session, participants cut and collaged materials to create their own mixed-media work of art, which resulted in the works you see below.

Participants engaging with art during the Slow Making workshop

Slow Writing

For this session, participants were guided in a communal writing exploration of portraits in the museum’s exhibition Painting Identity. Participants were asked to imagine and write about the subjects’ identity.

Portraits from the exhibition Painting Identity

Museum Mindfulness’

For this virtual session, the Yogi, martial artist, and body worker J Miles of Maha Vira Yoga encouraged participants to find their inner calm with a slow, guided look at a selection of works from the PMA’s collection. This section had a more internal approach compared to the other three sessions.

The events were well received, and the virtual participants responded positively to the PMA survey on Slow Art Day:

“The programs will make me more mindful when visiting the museum. I appreciated the opportunities to look more deeply at works of art that I might have otherwise skipped by.”

Participant’s quote

“A lovely creative and mindful way to start my day”

Participant’s quote after attending the Museum Mindful Session

“Taking time to smell the virtual flowers and using Google Art & Education app to zoom in on every area of a painting; seeing that each component had significance in the painting.”

Participant’s quote after having attended the Slow Looking session

“…slowing down & listening to/reading other participants comments, seeing their creations… is very rewarding and opens new vistas.”

Participant’s quote after having attended the Slow Making session

“Very creative and uplifting. I felt renewed and encouraged, and also came up with some ideas for my own teaching”

Participant’s quote after having attended the Slow Writing session

At Slow Art Day HQ, we want to thank the Philadelphia Museum of Art for hosting yet another wonderful event. The range of activities they designed inspire us and educators around the world to consider creating multiple workshops and experiences for Slow Art Day.

We look forward to whatever creative designs the Philadelphia Museum of Art comes up with in 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

PS. For further information on the museum’s events you can follow their social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.