Gothenburg Museum of Art hosts Slow Art Day Meditation

For their third Slow Art Day, Sweden’s Gothenburg Museum of Art hosted a meditation session in their exhibition Barbro Östlihn. New York Imprint, featuring renowned post-war Swedish artist, Barbro Östlihn, who was friends with several US-based artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, Claes Oldenburg, and Roy Lichtenstein.

Linda Noreen, program coordinator, organized the event, while the meditation was lead by Lars Hain, who has 25 years of leading meditation workshops.

IMG_1444: Barbro Östlihn (1930-1995) Suffolk Street Wall, 1972 Oil on canvas Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Donation 1994 from Anders Lönnqvist, Stockholm.

Once they arrived at the museum, participants were taken to the Barbro Östlihn exhibit, invited to sit down on chairs and cushions, and then led through a meditative slow looking experience.

We’ll note that mixing meditation and slow looking is not new to Gothenburg Museum of Art.

In fact, as part of Slow Art Day 2021, they created a meditative video guide on how to slow down with art (in Swedish), while the museum was forced to close due to the pandemic. If you are a speaker of a Scandinavian language, we recommend viewing the video below for inspiration.

We at Slow Art Day HQ love the mixing of meditation and slow looking and especially appreciate that Gothenburg Museum of Art provided soft chairs and cushions (sounds really comfortable – every museum needs to do this!).

We look forward to seeing what Gothenburg Museum of Art comes up with for their 4th Slow Art Day in 2023.

– Johanna, Ashley, Jessica, Phyl and Robin

P.S. You can find the Gothenburg Museum of Art on Facebook and Instagram.

Slow Looking with Tea and Cookies at Sweden’s Galleri Pictor

For their first Slow Art Day, Galleri Pictor in Munka-Ljungby, Sweden, hosted an in-person slow looking event with visiting art students from Munka folkhögskola.

André Bongibolt, Les 1000 soleils entrevus (64 x 83 cm), mezzotint on paper. Read more.
Participants looking at the artwork by André Bongibolt. Photo courtsey of Galleri Pictor.

On Slow Art Day, the group gathered in a gallery and sat in a half circle in front of a picture by André Bongibolt. They started with relaxing their bodies and minds for a moment before looking slowly at the artwork. Participants were also given a document with slow looking instructions in Swedish, viewable below.

Following this, all participants wrote their thoughts and observations and shared them back with the group. To round off the event, participants reflected on their slow looking experience over a cup of tea and cookies (or ‘biscuits’ as they sometimes say in Europe).

Reflecting on the event, Charlotte Fällman Gleissner shared the following with us:

Even as a gallerist, I seldom give myself time to really see the artwork in a deeper sense – therefore this was a new experience for me too. Further, I now understand how flexible slow-looking is and how it can be used with different kinds of groups in a range of settings. This is wonderful. Thank You!

Charlotte Fällman Gleissner

We at Slow Art Day HQ are excited that Galleri Pictor has joined the slow art movement – and, in fact, we now believe that all slow looking events should end with tea and cookies. That is certainly a best practice!

– Johanna, Phyl, Ashley, Jessica and Robin

PS: Stay in touch with other events at Galleri Pictor via their Instagram

Connect and Create with Slow Art at Lehigh University Art Galleries

For their third Slow Art Day, the Lehigh University Art Galleries (LUAG) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, organized a variety of interesting, student-led slow looking activities.

Sam Ginn and Cassidy Rubio guiding visitors on the Slow Art Day tour, 2022

On April 2nd, visitors to the galleries were invited on a Slow Art Day Tour between 1-2PM to look at and discuss some visiting artworks from the exhibition Young, Gifted and Black together with Sam Ginn and Cassidy Rubio, both museum educators and students at Lehigh University.

Visitors were also separately given the change to join a Connect & Create Workshop with Lehigh student Afiwa Afandalo and the group Artists for Change.

For that workshop, participants read a short written piece connected to the theme, then discussed how a selection of artists engage with ideas of community in their work. In the final part of the session, they created an art piece (written or visual) that represented the influence of community on identity or vice versa. Participants considered their roles as community members, and reflected together on how “the collective and the self are equally important.”

In a LUAG student spotlight post, Afiwa Afandalo, the student and artist, reflected on how she created the workshop, which was inspired by sketching and contemplating one of the art works in the exhibit Young, Gifted, and Black.

We recommend you read her revelatory quote below –

The idea of having a workshop on the theme of identity and community came to me while viewing Blue Dancer by Tunji Adeniyi Jones. Every time I go to the gallery, I stop by that piece, the colors, the shape of the figure, the movement, they all feel so organic to me! I was so in love with that piece (I still am), I did a sketch of it in my sketchbook and used it as my artist study for my self-portrait painting. Sketching this piece allowed me to engage and decipher it; it felt like a puzzle—I love puzzles and I think it makes sense that I saw it as that: a puzzle—every piece carefully and intentionally crafted to create this beautiful piece. Something that stood out to me in this process was how the movements within the figure and outside of it are in sync with the form of the figure. I was trying to figure out which of the motion was impacting the other and couldn’t quite put my finger on it. When I finished the figure and was working on the surroundings, that’s when I had my “lightbulb moment”; it is not one or the other, it is both together, working at the same time, and having an impact on each other. That made me think of myself and my environment, how both work together and are equally important to the person I am and becoming. That’s when I knew what the workshop should be about.

Afiwa Afandalo. Lehigh University Art Galleries spotlight. May 26, 2022.

LUAG is an example of a university art museum that has incorporated slow looking and non-judgmental looking practices deeply into their tours, programs, and student engagement.

Seeing this brings us real joy and makes us look forward to seeing what LUAG comes up with for their 2023 Slow Art Day program.

– Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, Phyl and Robin.

McMaster Museum of Art Produces Their 9th(!) Slow Art Day

For their 9th(!) Slow Art Day, the McMaster Museum of Art in Hamilton, Canada, hosted a virtual slow looking session organized by Information Officer Olga Kolotylo together with Education Officer Teresa Gregorio.

On April 2, participants looked slowly at artworks by Denyse Thomasos (1964-2012), Alexandra Luke, the Painters Eleven, and others.

At the start of the session, participants were first given context about the land which the McMaster is located on, which traditionally belongs to the Hadenosaunee and Anishinaabe nations. Slow Art Day was then introduced, and The McMaster presented the following advice for slow looking:

  • Get comfortable
  • Pay attention to your senses
  • Open yourself up
  • Allow yourself to enter the artwork
  • Trust your intuition
  • Share your findings
  • Look again

For the remainder of the time, participants were given silence to look slowly followed then by discussion.

The session was recorded and is available to watch below. We encourage art educators to check out the video for inspiration and ideas, including Kolotylo’s moderation and the way she did not reveal the artist or title until the end of each conversation.

Slow Art Day 2022 at the McMaster Museum of Art.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the longtime leadership of the McMaster Museum of Art in the slow looking movement and eagerly look forward to what they create in 2023.

We can’t wait to see what the McMaster Museum of Art comes up with for Slow Art Day in 2023.

– Johanna, Jessica Jane, Ashley, Phyl and Robin

P.S. You can stay updated with events at the McMaster Museum of Art via their IG page.

P.P.S. I, Johanna, feel especially nostalgic when I write about the McMaster events, since their event was one of the first reports I put together for Slow Art Day when I joined the team.

A Slow Look at the Trinity with MIT List Visual Arts Center

For their 7th Slow Art Day, the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, MA, invited visitors to a slow looking session focused on “Trinity” (Beverly Pepper, 1971), a sculpture from their Public Art Collection.

The event was organized and led by Elizabeth Ponce, Public Programs Coordinator, and Fatima Nasir Abbasi, MIT List Tour Guide.

Beverly Pepper, Trinity, 1971, Cor-Ten steel, 36 x 276 x 288 in. (91.4 x 701 x 731.5 cm), Gift of the Sonnabend Foundation, Photo by Chuck Mayer. 

On the day, participants met as a group and walked over to the sculpture. They were invited to look slowly at the sculpture for 10-15 minutes, and use that time to write, sketch or simply think about the artwork. Following this, the group shared their thoughts with each other.

The group was given the following prompts for the session. (Note: we encourage museum educators to consider copying these for slow looking events featuring sculpture.)

  • Stare at the piece.
  • When your mind begins to wander, refocus on the work.
  • What are your thoughts, experiences, feelings?
  • Consider: Form and shape, scale, color, installation space, concept, emotion, craft, design.
  • Change your perspective.
  • Move around, and observe this sculpture from a different angle.
  • Get close and examine the surface, the construction, and composition.
  • Back up and consider the work in its environment.

Pepper’s sculptures are known to touch on a wide range of themes – including religion, sexuality and emotion. This sculpture was originally titled Dunes I, which evokes images of the desert. The altered title allows viewers to explore a wider range of connotations, including the idea of religious or spiritual unity.

We at the Slow Art Day HQ team always like to see sculpture featured in slow looking events. The three-dimensionality allows participants to move around and engage the artwork from a wide range of perspectives. Further, because scuplture provides so many angles it enhances the way that slow looking connects us not only with art but with ourselves.

We look forward to what the MIT List Visual Arts Center comes up with for their 8th Slow Art Day in 2023.

-Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane and Phyl

PS. Stay updated with events at the MIT List Visual Arts Center through their Instagram and Facebook pages.

Inside Out Accessible Art’s First Slow Art Day

In what we hope is the beginning of a global trend, Bloomington, Illinois was home this year to the first planned citywide Slow Art Day event.

Nine galleries across this town, including the non-profit art collective Inside Out Accessible Art, Inc (IOAA), participated in what they called their Route 66 Slow Art Day initiative (Eaton, Illinois is situated on the historic Route 66 highway in the U.S.).

In addition to what IOAA and each of the other galleries did, the big win here of course is the way longtime host Pamala Eaton organized the first citywide Slow Art Day (see this earlier post and this local media coverage for more information).

The IOAA’s design for Slow Art Day was simple.

Visitors were invited to slowly look at the art of six local artists and then talk with each of the artists, who were invited to spend the day with slow lookers.

The six artists who participated were the following:

  • Peggy Dunlap (mixed media)

Photo credits: Shelley Schultz
Slow Art Day 2022 at IOAA. Photo credits: Shelley Schultz

At Slow Art Day HQ we look forward to publishing the reports from the other eight galleries, and to writing a wrap-up analysis of Bloomington’s citywide event, including what other cities might learn about doing something similar.

Of course, we also hope that the IOAA will host another Slow Art Day in 2023, and that next year’s event will be part of yet another citywide experience.

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

Ps. The IOAA is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit that has a physical gallery space for artists, provides art classes and events and works cooperatively with others in the community to provide art experiences. Check them out online or Facebook.

Birmingham Museum of Art hosts 9th Slow Art Day

The Birmingham Museum of Art (BMA) in Alabama — one of the founding Slow Art Day host museums back in 2010 — invited visitors in 2022 to a Slow Art Day featuring contemporary pieces of art in their collection.

Participants were invited to look at two pieces of art, including “The Deserted Studio” by artist Robert Motherwell.

Robert Motherwell, “The Deserted Studio”, acrylic and charcoal on canvas, Birmingham Museum of Art collection.

After 5-10 minutes spent individually contemplating the artworks, participants took part in a relaxed discussion hosted by Julia Stork, Master Docent at the museum.

The event was attended by BMA docent alumni alongside local Slow Art Day enthusiasts, who all appreciated the event, with one participant exclaiming “Let’s do this again sooner than next year!” (The BMA used to host Slow Art Sundays, but discontinued them when the pandemic hit — we hope they can start them up again in the future.)

We can’t wait to see what the BMA comes up with in 2023.

– Johanna, Ashley, Jessica and Phyl

Slowing Down with Diné art at the Museum of Northern Arizona

For their fourth Slow Art Day, the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) in Arizona, USA, hosted a slow looking event in combination with the opening of a new exhibition, Náátsʼíilid / Rainbow Light, featuring art by Diné artist Baje Whitethorne Sr., who grew up on the Navajo Nation Reservation.

Baje Whitethorne Sr., 1985, Watercolor on paper, MNA#C2587. Image courtsey of the MNA.

Before the event, the museum posted a video to YouTube, where Alan Petersen, Curator of Fine Art, and Samantha Honanie, Bookstore & Publications Manager, introduced slow looking and Slow Art Day.

We highly recommend that all museum educators and curators view this well-done video.

Alan Petersen, Curator of Fine Art, and Samantha Honanie, Bookstore & Publications Manager, at MNA, discussing slow looking and Slow Art Day. 30 March, 2022.

In six minutes, Samantha and Alan show (not tell) the viewer how Slow Art Day works.

They use some simple but ingenious methods for “showing” 10 minutes of slow looking in just a minute or so — and they then capture the joy of discovery and enthusiasm that participants experience (that is so hard to describe in words).

It’s a real joy to watch.

Take a look and think about how you might borrow some of their techniques for your next Slow Art Day event.

For the actual day, participants were given a Slow Art Day cheat sheet of slow looking prompts.

Participants were then invited to view the art by Baje Whitethorne, choosing the order they wanted to see the artworks in, and applying the slow looking promts from the cheat sheet.

At 2pm, all participants gathered in the Living Room at the museum, where Alan Petersen led a discussion of the insights and experiences from the event.

We recommend viewing the following video of artist Baje Whitethorne introducing the title and theme of his exhibition, Náátsʼíilid / Rainbow Light, below.

Baje Whitethorne introducing the exhibition theme – Náátsʼíilid/Rainbow Light.

We love everything about the NMA’s Slow Art Day – the preparatory video, the cheat sheet and the artwork chosen. We hope you get a chance to spend as much time with Baje Whitethorne and their work as we did in preparing this report.

We at Slow Art Day HQ are grateful that via writing these reports we get to look at and experience art from all over the world – art we may never have otherwise been able to see.

We look forward to whatever the Museum of Northern Arizona comes up with for Slow Art Day 2023.

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

P.S. Stay updated with events at the Museum of Northern Arizona via their Facebook page.

Gratitude and Mindfulness for FMoPA’s Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa, Florida, hosted an in-person event focused on mindfulness and gratitude.

Slow Art Day participants viewing the artwork by Paul Caponigro, Stream and Trees, Redding, Connecticut, 1967, Silver gelatin print, Collection of the Artist.

During the event, participants were taken through a step-by-step presentation by Zora Carrier, Executive Director of FMoPA, which we highly recommend curators and educators review and consider for inspiration for their own events.

Participants were first invited to do a body scan — noticing their sensations without judgement. We love this beginning. This is a great way to ground people in their body and senses.

Once they were tuned up, they were then invited to look slowly at two photographs by Paul Caponigro and David Dennard, and think about the following promts for each:

  • Look carefully at this artwork. What do you notice? Write down your observations. Be thorough.
  • Carefully review your observations.
  • Write down any inferences, opinions or conclusions formed because of known facts?
  • Are there any details that you want to know more about? Write 3-5 additional questions.
  • What is the context of the image?
  • What might the photographer be feeling?
  • Is the image positive, negative or neutral?
  • Is this image about an idea/concept that we can’t recognize with our five senses?

Paul Caponigro, American, b. 1932, Stream and Trees, Redding, Connecticut, 1967, Silver gelatin print, Collection of the Artist.
David Dennard, American, b. 1954, Paul Caponigro, A Desert Father, Death Valley, 2020, Platinum-palladium print, Collection of the Artist.

To finish the session, all participants were asked to do some breathing exercises and write a gratitude note to a person of their choice, guided by a three-step prompt:

  • Step 1: Focus on the recipient. Spend a few moments thinking about the note recipient—what they did for you; what they said; what it meant—focusing on the feel of the paper, colors, or what mental images come to mind when you think about the person.
  • Step 2: Be specific and personal. Think about the thing you’re most grateful for out of your relationship with the person.
  • Step 3: Think about how it made you feel—then and now. Don’t feel restricted by making it look ‘good’ as long as you can communicate your gratitude. Art is subjective, and this won’t be criticized.

In our own slow looking of these two photographs, we were particularly captured by the juxtaposition of the lush, first photograph with the spare moonscape-like second photograph. Then, after several minutes, we looked at the caption and realized that the artist of the first one is the subject of the second one. That brought added joy to the slow looking experience.

We recommend that all Slow Art Day educators and curators do as we did, and go through Carrier’s presentation. As much as possible, look with a child’s naive eye.

We are very happy to welcome FMoPA to the global Slow Art Day, and can’t wait to see what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2023.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

PS. When we started Slow Art Day, almost no museums offered regular slow looking programming. We are happy to see that FMoPA not only participates in the global Slow Art Day, but also runs monthly slow looking events.

Slow Art for a Rainy Day with the Georgia Museum of Art

For their sixth Slow Art Day, the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, GA, hosted an in-person slow looking and drawing session.

The session was originally planned as an outdoor sculpture viewing, but the rain had other plans and the event was hosted inside the museum. The program was created by Sage Kincaid, Associate Curator of Education, who has a strong passion for all things Slow Art.

On April 10, participants were invited to look slowly at three works of art at the museum:

  • Steinunn Thorarinsdottir’s sculpture ‘Tide’ (2012)
  • Nick Cave’s sculpture “Soundsuit” (2017)
  • Joan Mitchell’s painting “Close” (1972)

New Installment Added to Jane and Harry Willson Sculpture Garden | Georgia  Museum of Art at the University of Georgia - Georgia Museum of Art at the  University of Georgia
Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, ‘Tide’, 2012. Cast iron and glass. 70 7/8 × 27 9/16 × 13 3/4 in. (180 × 70 × 35 cm)
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Museum purchase with funds provided by Judith Ellis
Participants doing line-drawings of Nick Cave’s Soundsuit Sculpture for Slow Art Day 2021. Photo courtsey of the Georgia Museum of Art.
two men looking at Joan Mitchell's large abstract painting "Close"
Visitors in front of Joan Mitchell’s painting “Close” (1972) during a previous Slow Art Day event. Photo courtesy of the Georgia Museum of Art.

After looking at the art pieces, Katie Landers, an Education Department Intern at the museum, led separate slow looking and drawing activities.

Participants were first encouraged to think about their physical relationship to the sculpture by Steinunn Thorarinsdottir. Next, they investigated color and color palettes by looking at Joan Mitchell’s painting. Finally, they made a blind contour and continuous line drawing of Nick Cave’s sculpture. To end the day, all participants made abstract color collages together. The event was well received by a dedicated group of 10, who spent several hours together for an immersive experience on Slow Art Day.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the integrated multi-sensory approach that the Georgia Museum of Art took to designing this year’s event. While looking at something closely lets us see in new ways, slow drawing takes that process even further and allows attendees to connect looking, talking and making. And that creates the possibility to be present — with art, with ourselves, and with others.

We look forwad to what the Georgia Museum of Art comes up with for their 7th Slow Art Day in 2022.

-Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl