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).
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.
The Universidad Panamericana, Guadalajara campus, located in Zapopan, Mexico, held their first Slow Art Week as a part of their Lead Creative Festival. Lead Creative is a festival that invites young people to seek change through art, and was hosted by Andrea Guadalupe Covarrubias. For the festival, art is broadly defined to include the visual arts, along with instrumental and vocal music, dance, and theater.
With over 1800 participants, this hybrid event had both in-person engagement and social media posts on Facebook and Instagram with an average reach of 700 people per post.
Based on the success of their first Slow Art Day, they plan to hold slow looking sessions throughout the year and not just with visual art, but also with the choir, theater group, and dance artists.
The event was advertised as a part of the Lead Creative festival with the below flyer.
For Drinking Gourd Gallery‘s first Slow Art Day, founder Carol Torian hosted artist Kirsten Moore and led a 75-minute guided slow looking experience. Based in Raleigh, NC and conducted via Zoom, the event focused on Kirsten Moore’s food art paintings: “Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy,” “Spring Onions,” “Taste the Rainbow,” and “Traditions.” Following a meditative centering exercise, visitors observed each piece, then engaged in a group discussion to share their impressions of the artwork. Kirsten also shared aspects of her artistic process and what inspires her to create.
Kirsten Moore’s works are mosaics of recycled materials, such as magazines, and build on the history of food as art. Moore has a passion for planet sustainability and uses repurposed materials and discarded items instead of traditional mediums to create her mixed media artwork. Her process of deconstructing the material and giving it new life can be seen in her paintings, sculptures, and even digital artwork.
Drinking Gourd Gallery promoted their event on Facebook and Instagram using the following image:
The attendees were engaged and excited about the process.
We encourage Slow Art Day educators and curators to spend some time with Moore’s terrific food art.
We also note that the gallery, which gets its name from the folk song “Follow the Drinking Gourd” honoring those who were once enslaved, plans on holding virtual slow art events on a quarterly basis.
We can’t wait to see what Drinking Gourd Gallery comes up with for Slow Art Day 2023!
The garden, populated by prophets and saints and sheltered by the church wall and private home, contains 64 statues and architecture that dates from the 1700s.
It is a place of reflection, an oasis of peace in the center of the busy port city, and as such a perfect spot for a Slow Art Day.
For this fifth Slow Art Day, they had volunteers (“St. Paul’s friends”) in the Garden to help answer questions and guide participants. Importantly, they also made the Garden free of charge from 2pm to 5pm on Slow Art Day, helping to welcome hundreds of people into this outdoor art-filled sanctuary.
As noted, their in-person afternoon was very well attended.
Additionally, they generated great online engagement including hundreds of Facebook and Instagram likes.
We must admit that we are big fans of the team at Sint Pauluskerk. They are an inspiration to all of us around the world who care about building this movement based on slow looking, reflection, and love.
– Robin, Ashley, Phyl, Johanna, and Jessica Jane
P.S. Please help us welcome a new Slow Art Day volunteer, Robin Cerio. Robin has a Master’s in art history, has worked in museums, and is going to help us with our big backlog of 2022 reports. In fact, she drafted this report. Welcome, Robin!
In addition to this Slow Art Weekend, cARTie provides year-round museum field trips to elementary schools that have limited access to the arts. *All* of their field trips include slow art time with rich, facilitated discussion.
We love this program and their mission to bring art to schools that otherwise don’t have it. We also are impressed by the design of their mobile Slow Art Weekend including their decision to feature some terrific student art.
We very much look forward to seeing what design they come up with for Slow Art Day 2023.
– Robin, Ashley, Phyl, Jessica Jane, and Johanna
P.S. We’ve also asked them to provide an electronic copy of their brochure so we can share that with educators and curators around the world.
For their first Slow Art Day, the Holland Museum in Holland, Michigan, organized an in-person event inviting participants to engage with their Dutch art collection.
Participants were divided in four small groups and were encouraged to look at the selected paintings for five minutes each, then to share their thoughts with a friend or another participant from the event. Education & Community Programs Manager Michelle Stempien provided them with a short brochure with images from the Dutch art collection.
The brochure contained different open-ended questions and prompts for each painting, to encourage more in-depth looking:
Prompts for “Elegant Company Making Music” by Jacob Duck :
What do you think the woman on the left is thinking about?
Why is she looking at us?
How does the artist show us her importance?
What seems unusual about this scene?
Other prompts included the comparison between these two paintings:
A docent was also available to discuss the paintings. Participants were playfully encouraged to copy some of the poses in paintings, and post photos of their poses to social media.
We encourage educators and curators to consider copying their joyful slow looking design — including their brochure.
And we at Slow Art Day HQ are happy to welcome the Holland Museum to Slow Art Day, and look forward to what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2023.
We began our nine-day 2022 Slow Art Day volunteer team retreat by visiting the site of the first test of Slow Art Day: MoMA in New York.
In 2009, Phyl organized four people to visit MoMA and look slowly at five artworks. 13 years and thousands of events later, they returned again with a group of four, but this time it was the dedicated Slow Art Day volunteer team with dresses to match the art.
While looking slowly together in various museums, we decided to use our slow looking algorithm that can be used by small groups anytime all over the world.
Phyl first tried this in 2012 when they took three young brothers to their first art museum with a mother sure they would bounce off the walls and not look — she was shocked when they all slowed down and spent time with the art.
Here’s how it works:
Assign a “selector” in each gallery Choose someone who will select an artwork to look at slowly.
Then everyone looks around for a few minutes While that’s happening, the selector picks their piece.
Look slowly at the chosen piece Spend 5 – 10 minutes looking together at the artwork.
Talk about it Ask: what did you see? Then don’t try to moderate. People will have a lot to say. Let them say it. In fact, this is a wonderful moment. You will get closer to each other as you learn how each other sees and thinks.
Move to the next gallery, choose the next selector, and repeat
That’s it. Really simple. Nothing else required.
Further, if you do this as a group – and if you are dressed up like we were – then you’ll likely draw a crowd whenever you slow down to look at a piece of art intensively. That’s certainly what happened to us. No matter what we looked at, it became a temporary “Starry Night” or “Mona Lisa” with big crowds assembling to figure out why everyone is looking (note: this is a great way to get visitors to pay more attention to less well-known art).
At MoMA, Johanna was the selector for the first gallery we visited. She skipped “Starry Night” and chose Edvard Munch’s “The Storm” (1893). Everyone knows Munch’s “The Scream.” Fewer know “The Storm” and we were glad to bring more attention to this terrific painting.
In our discussion after the slow look, we of course learned more about this artwork and more about each other. Johanna and Jessica Jane are very good close lookers. Meanwhile, Phyl is most sensitive to color, while Ashley’s eye for design picks up composition and texture.
We finished this first session feeling more connected to each other, and to the art.
We then moved to the next gallery, where Jessica Jane was the selector. And so it went as we slowly looked our way through MoMA, the Met, the Whitney, The Barnes Foundation (in Philadelphia), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
Special thanks to the educators who hosted us along the way, including:
Bill Perthes, Director of Adult Education at The Barnes Foundation
Linnea West, Manager of Adult Public Programs, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Greg Stuart, Coordinator of Adult Public Programs, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Lisa Dombrow, play activist, educator, and volunteer at MoMA and AMNH (and original ‘slow looker’)
We can’t wait for our Summer 2023 Slow Art Day retreat somewhere in the world (if you want us to come visit you and your institution, then let us know!).
We just finished our first ever Slow Art Day team retreat with founder Phyl Terry (U.S.) and global team members Ashley Moran (U.S.), Jessica Jane Nocella (Italy), and Johanna Bokedal (Norway). We came together in New York and Philadelphia for nine days of slow art, friendship, and fun.
We will be posting several reports highlighting our time together at:
MoMA (New York)
The Met (New York)
The Whitney (New York)
The Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia)
The Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
Like happens all over the world with Slow Art Day, looking slowly deepened our ability to see from multiple perspectives, to love art even more, and to create closer bonds of friendship and community with each other.
In the reports that follow, we’ll share what we saw, what we learned, and the simple slow looking algorithm we used at each venue.
Highlights include our coordinated dresses at MoMA, our long conversation and slow looking with the Director of Education at the Barnes Foundation (and a very interesting idea he floated), and our time with the team at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
We are sad to end our retreat.
The good news, though, is we are looking forward to visiting other participating Slow Art Day institutions in future years around the world.
And, we are even beginning to put together a global Slow Art conference in 2025 in partnership with a great art museum (more on that in the next several months).
With much love,
Phyl, Ashley, Jessica Jane, and Johanna
P.S. Our longtime global coordinator Maggie Freeman, who is studying for a PhD in Islamic Art & Architecture at MIT, could not join us for this one, but we look forward to future summer retreats with her.
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.
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.
On April 2, 2022, the El Nido Art Space presented by VC Projects in Los Angeles, CA hosted their first Slow Art Day, which focused on a two-person exhibition titled “War and Peace” (Ukrainian Voices) by Denys Kushnarov, a Kyiv-based filmmaker, and Yuri Boyko, an LA-based Ukranian-American photographer and artist.
The in-person event featured six short films about Ukraine, which Kushnarov is associated with:
“Make Music Not War!” (made after the Donbas region and Crimea Peninsula were annexed by Russia)
“There is a Place” (dedicated to the Chernobyl tragedy)
Memorial Choir “Ukraina”
Kushnarov also wrote “A Message from Ukraine,” a letter to the world based on the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The exhibition also featured the photography series, “Departure and Arrival”, by Boyko, which presented written prose and a visual exploration of the LA-based Ukranian-American artist’s grandmother’s home in Ukraine. Boyko visited the home after 30 years of absence, and found that all family rituals and traditions were still intact. His photographs capture a past that has now been destroyed.
Victoria Chapman, Founder and Director of VC Projects, curated the exhibition by contacting the two artists in the wake of the Russian invasion. She writes, “What could be more relevant for Slow Art Day … taking pause to reflect on art and humanity.”
The event was attended by 50 guests, and was promoted on their website, where you can find links to the videos and view more of the photography. You can also check out more from VC Projects and the El Nido Art Space on Instagram at VC Projects and El Nido Art Space. Below is a flyer used to promote the event:
We at Slow Art Day HQ are deeply saddened by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and are glad to see communities come together to reflect on art and humanity.