Toronto’s Gardiner Museum Explores Social, Political, & Environmental Themes

Earlier this year, the Gardiner Museum, Canada’s ceramics museum, hosted a Slow Art Day event focusing on the social, political, and environmental themes explored in the exhibition Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me. Education Manager, Farrukh Rafiq, guided attendees in slow looking activities and engaged them in a discussion about the works on display.

Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me

As a multi-sensory installation, Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me explores how we see ourselves and each other through drawings, ceramic sculpture, life-sized automatons, two-way mirrors, coin-operated sculpture, and an interactive score.

More information about the exhibit and the Gardiner Museum can be found on the links above and via their social media pages: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This is the third year that Toronto’s Gardiner Museum has held a slow art event and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.

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

Sharon Norwood Slowly at Washington & Lee University

The Museums at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA held their first Slow Art Day this year, led by Director of Museums Isra El-beshir and student curator Posi Oluwakuyide, and focused on “The Root of the Matter,” an exhibit featuring the contemporary art of Sharon Norwood.

A conceptual artist of Caribbean descent, Norwood aims to provoke an honest conversation about race, beauty, and differences.

The Root of the Matter V, 2016 Digital Collage by Sharon Norwood. Courtesy of the Museums at Washington and Lee website.

Slow looking participant. Courtesy of the Museums at Washington & Lee University Instagram.

As you can see, she uses the curly line to express identity and cultural relationships through various art forms, including ceramics, drawings, paintings, installations, and videos.

Her work is stunning and we recommend you check out their Instagram and visit their website to read more about Sharon Norwood.

We are happy to welcome The Museums at W&L to our movement, and very much look forward to seeing the art they focus on for their second Slow Art Day in 2023.

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

P.S. Below is the digital flyer used to promote the event (note their use of tinycc in their print marketing, which makes it easier for readers to type in long urls – something we recommend other educators consider copying for their print materials).

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Mindful Art at Musée des Beaux Arts d’Orléans in Orléans, France

For their first Slow Art Day, Mindful Art hosted two days of mindfulness and slow looking at the Musée des Beaux Arts d’Orléans in Orléans, France. Organizer Marjan Abadie led the hybrid in-person and online event, which had 129 participants in total.

The Mindful Art Experience is an initiative by the Mindfulness Institute in Brussels, Belgium. Below is a website banner they used to promote the event.

Marjan Abadie leading participants through slow looking. CREDIT: Marjan Abadie
Slow Art Day participants. CREDIT: Marjan Abadie

We look forward to what Marjan Abadie comes up with for Slow Art Day 2023.

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

Slow Art Day at Nashville Parthenon

On the 2nd of April, the Nashville Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee, celebrated their first Slow Art Day with a variety of in-person activities.

For the event, they organized four art talks with Acting Curator Jennifer Richardson who helped participants look slowly and explore paintings while also facilitating discussions using Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS).

Acting Curator Jennifer Richardson in the Cowan Gallery – Picture taken from website

Richardson alternated talks/slow looking with other activities.

For example, docents encouraged participants to take part in their Cowan Challenge: a slow looking, detail-finding game with paintings from their Cowan Collection, which includes art works that range from the 18th-20th centuries, to contemporary pieces from their Red Arrow – Show Up! past exhibition.

They also held an Achitecture Tour to look slowly at the building and, separately, organized a Kidsville event, where children, families, and adults could read a book with Imagination Library and create art inspired by it. To make everything even more inclusive, they also set up a Quiet Area for participants to enjoy art books in their specific designated area.

The event was a success, with 1,867 visitors and 242 recorded contacts many of whom admitted to being surprised by discovering how much they could really see thanks to the art of slowing down.

At Slow Art Day HQ we are glad to welcome Nashville Parthenon to our movement and look forward to what they come up with in April 2023!

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

7th Slow Art Day at Hofstra University Museum of Art

For their 7th Slow Art Day held April of 2022, Hofstra University Museum of Art in Hempstead, New York held an in-person event focused on works of art in their “Drawing Matters” exhibition, which included works from the museum’s collection of botanical and scientific illustrations, as well as engineering and architectural drawings.

Museum Director Karen Albert led slow looking and drawing exercises throughout the 2-hour event, which was limited to 15 attendees.

Slow Art Day Participants
Slow Art Day Participants

Below is the flyer used to promote the event:

Hofstra, which uses slow-looking techniques throughout the year during their classes, brought a light touch to the program (i.e., less lecture and more looking), which is what we love to see.

You can visit them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin, and learn more about their classes, which are provided to elementary, secondary, and university students, as well as teachers and others.

We look forward to what the Hofstra Museum of Art comes up with for their 8th Slow Art Day in 2023.

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

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.

Holding Hands with St. Vincent de Paul in Melbourne, Australia

For their first Slow Art Day, Monique Silk and her colleagues at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, created a series of Slow Art Cards in sets of five so both patients and visitors could participate. The cards utilized three different art works from their art collection and a photo from their archives. On the back of the card, they included a series of instructions on ways to look at the art works slowly.

The prompts they used are:

  1. Look: Give yourself a few minutes to look all over the art work. Let your eyes wander to all corners of the image, top to bottom and left to right.
  2. Observe: Notice the colors, shapes, objects, textures and markings on the surface of the art work. Where do your eyes focus?
  3. Feel: What words come to mind about this art work? How do you feel looking at this art work? Does it remind you of anything?
  4. Share: Share your experience of looking at the artwork with someone and post an image of the work online with a word of reflection and hashtag #slowartday2022
Ben Quilty, Torana on Flinders, 2002, oil on canvas, photo courtesy of Monique Silk
St. Vincent’s Hospital Diet Kitchen c. 1952, Clinical Photography Department Collection, SVHM Archives, photo courtesy of Monique Silk
Sarah Metzner, Country Whispers to Us in Many Languages, 2021, oil paint and pastel on paper, photo courtesy of Monique Silk
Penny Long, Pathway, 2011, oil on canvas, photo courtesy of Monique Silk

Cards were distributed to various hospital departments to share with patients and visitors on Slow Art Day. The response from the staff to the cards was very positive.

Monique also a slow art activity in the hospital courtyard. This activity invited people to sit and slowly look at their statue of St Vincent de Paul. They even invited people to come and hold his hands and interact with the sculpture directly. While people were a bit shy when sitting with the sculpture, the hosts gave people space to interact without feeling as though they were being directly observed.

St. Vincent de Paul, by Australian sculptor Peter Corlett, photo courtesy of Monique Silk

One patient was wheeled out to the courtyard to be with the sculpture of St. Vincent and her caregiver said “this was the highlight of her day”. Another staff member said they had never noticed the sculpture before and thanked the hosts for giving them the opportunity to “feel” the presence of St. Vincent.

The pastoral care staff decided that the cards can be used on an ongoing basis and one chaplain said that:

“It’s a joy to offer the beautiful slow art cards to patients. There has been gratitude expressed from those who received your wonderful gifts. Such a great initiative!”

After the events, the hosts realized that they should have included a First Nations art work, which they plan to do for Slow Art Day 2023.

We at Slow Art Day are so happy that St. Vincent’s in Melbourne decided to celebrate Slow Art Day 2022 with patients and visitors. Perhaps, this is the beginning of a trend of many more hospitals around the world joining the slow looking movement, and bringing the power of learning to look at and love art to patients, visitors, and staff. This is a true Mitzvah.

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

Aesthetics and Emotions at MART

For their second Slow Art Day, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Rovereto and Trento (MART), Italy, organized both an online and an in-person event.

For the online session, which took place on April 1, the eight participants received three artworks by email the day before of the event so that they could look slowly on their own and then come and present their thoughts during the session.

For the in-person event, organizers presented the three artworks at the beginning of the session, then they left the 20 participants to look slowly for 45 minutes.

Participants were given some prompts to think about while looking:

  • Which elements strike you the most?
  • Which positive or/and negative emotions do you feel looking at this artwork?
  • Do you like this artwork asethetically?
  • Does it evoke you memories? If so, which ones?

They also asked participants to do the following:

  • Rate their emotional and aesthetic responses with a scale of of 0 to 5 points.
  • Assign a title for each work of art (we recommend other educators consider adding this fun element).
  • Think of a common thread connecting the three artworks.

Once their slow looking was done, the museum then divided the participants into small discussion groups of four people each.

Photos from the in-person session can be viewed below.

Gino Severini, Cannoni in azione, 1915 oil on canvas, 50 x 61,5 cm, Mart, Collezione VAF-Stiftung

Organizers collected the participants feedback and shared with us a few snippets (translated from Italian).

Admiring, observing and talking in a group about the individual and personal sensations that the works made on us was very beautiful, instructive and formative. Feeling how each participant had his own point of view and his impression and how the various impressions intertwined with each other was very welcome and was appreciated by all.

Renzo – Slow Art Day participant

I think we all had a great desire to live this moment, in which physical closeness, looks, voice, were finally used as “normal” means of communication and expression simply belonging to our human race. After these two years of restrictions [for Covid] I think we all felt happy to get to know and re-know each other in a close way and to make a group. Looking together, exchanging opinions and impressions, sharing the different possibilities of reading and interpreting the works was an enriching experience and, let me say, at least for me, even moving.”

Maddalena – Slow Art Day participant

We’d like to add that Denise Bernabè, Membership Coordinator at MART, and Piero Consolati, MART member for several years, have been organizing Slow Art monthly meetings in addition to the annual events. And, due to the pandemic, April 2 was the first time they ran an in-person slow looking session – and they did great!

We very much look forward to what they come up with for 2023.

– Jessica Jane, Phyl, Johanna, and Ashley

Delving into the Down North Exhibition at Portland Museum of Art

For its fifth Slow Art Day, Portland Museum of Art delved into three works from Down North: The North Atlantic Triennial. This exhibition was co-organized by the Portland Museum of Art, the Reykjavík Art Museum, Iceland, and the Bildmuseet, Sweden; it is the first exhibition devoted entirely to contemporary art of the North Atlantic region.

Participants joined Christian Adame, Peggy L. Osher Director of Learning and Community Collaboration, to look in-person with intention and attention at three works of art (pictured below) for a total of 90 minutes.

Lauren Fensterstock (United States, born 1975), The Order of Things, 2016, mixed media with shells, overall: 78 x 240 x 26 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Claire Oliver Gallery, NY. © Lauren Fensterstock

Bita Razavi (Finland/Estonia, born 1983), Gameplay video filmed in The Hunter: Call of the Wild from the series The Dog Days Will Soon Be Over, 2019, sound; HD video, 16:9, 5 minutes 39 seconds (loop), musical score by Svetlana Maraš. Courtesy of the artist. © Bita Razavi

Anders Sunna (Sápmi, born 1985) Torne STYX, 2021, paint and collage on wood, 48 x 88 13/64 x 5/32 inches. Courtesy of the artist. © Anders Sunna. Photographs by Piera Niilá Stålka

More information, including a video of the exhibition, can be found here. Be sure to explore the entire page as the selected works featured online are striking and evocative. Portland Art Museum also holds slow looking events throughout the year on an intermittent basis. Information on those events, and when they will be held, can be found on their calendar.

Portland Museum of Art can be found on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, and Soundcloud.

We can’t wait to see what PMA does for 2023!

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

P.S. We want to recognize the long-time leadership of Christian Adame who first hosted Slow Art Day at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento in 2013. When he later moved to the Phoenix Art Museum he brought it there, and then, more recently, when he was hired by the Portland Museum of Art he again brought Slow Art Day with him. Christian is the pied-piper of our movement.

Looking Slowly in London at The Wallace Collection

On Saturday April 2, 2022, The Wallace Collection in London hosted “Looking Slowly: Slow Art Day 2022” online. Organized by Miranda K. Gleaves and hosted by Oliver Jones and History of Art lecturer Jo Rhymer, the 136 attendees were guided through an hour of slow looking focused on a single painting, An Allegory of Fruitfulness, by Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678).

An Allegory of Fruitfulness, 1620-9, Jacob Jordaens, © The Wallace Collection.

The event was very well received with participants saying things like –

“Thank you. I can not even imagine from now on, rushing through paintings. This is such a nice experience”.

Later in the month of April, they hosted “Slow Art”, a two-day online event where they helped participants develop skills in visual analysis and active looking. We’ve asked them for more details on their curriculum, or anything we can share with the global Slow Art Day community.

Further, we are happy to say that The Wallace Collection is one of a growing number of institutions that also hosts slow looking sessions throughout the year as a part of their public programming schedule.

You can find The Wallace Collection on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. We can’t wait to see what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2023.

Ashley, Phyl, Jessica Jane, Johanna, and Robin