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