Tate Modern Slow Art Day 2019: ‘Fantastic’

According to the visitor experience team at Tate Modern, Slow Art Day 2019 was “fantastic.”

Participants slowly looking at The Snail by Henri Matisse

They organized two one-hour slow looking sessions split between two artworks and, then, after the sessions, the team invited the visitors to come together for tea, coffee, biscuits, and a discussion about the whole experience.

Here’s what some of the participants said:

“A really interesting session. I’m more mindful of how to observe art in the future.”

“What a wonderful idea!

“I understand now how you can spend so much time in a gallery looking at art!”

“The combination of looking at art slowly and with other people is a real eye opener.”

“Really like the concept. As someone who can feel a bit intimidated by the art world this felt like a really nice way in and gives me more confidence to engage with art in the future.”

“A brilliant concept, lovely to think that this is going on all around the world.”

“I will definitely bring friends next time. Do it again!”

“I felt like a part of a group/community and was an hour well spent.”

“We can’t wait for next year to do it again,” said Adriana Oliveira, Visitor Experience Manager there at Tate Modern.

Phil

The Power Plant Hosts Successful Third Slow Art Day; and Mid-year Roundtable with Phil Terry

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto, Ontario, Canada hosted a successful third Slow Art Day in 2019, led by Kendra Campbell, TD Curator of Education & Outreach Fellow. Kendra guided participants to look slowly at one work of art in each of three exhibitions: Shuvinai Ashoona: Mapping WorldsAlicia Henry: Witnessing; and Omar Ba: Same Dream.

She then led a group discussion about the participants’ perceptions of slow looking. They discussed their personal connections with the artworks, which revealed startling similarities.

Participants viewing work from Shuvinai Ashoona: Mapping Worlds.
Slow Art Day 2019 at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto, Ontario, Canada). Saturday, April, 6, 2019.
Participants viewing work from Alicia Henry: Witnessing.
Slow Art Day 2019 at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto, Ontario, Canada). Saturday, April, 6, 2019.

On Wednesday, July 3, 2019, The Power Plant also hosted Phil Terry, the founder of Slow Art Day, for a roundtable discussion with Toronto-area organizations that have hosted, or aspire to host, their own Slow Art Day. Each of the educators and curators talked about their designs for Slow Art Day, and what worked and what did not.

Phil Terry, center back of the table, meets with Toronto host venues at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto, Ontario, Canada). Photo: Josh Heuman.

The Power Plant’s new TD Fellow, Laura Demers, will be ready to guide the next Slow Art Day on Saturday 4, April 2020, and we look forward to seeing what she has in store for the event.

– Ashley

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

Magaliesburg’s Multi-sensory Slow Art Day 2019

Gallery owner Hannelie Hartman welcomed participants of all ages to the third Slow Art Day at MelonRouge in Magaliesburg, South Africa.

The event was facilitated by Dr. Sonja Brink, a Learning through Play Ambassador for the Lego Foundation, who, when not involved in Slow Art Day, teaches the Setswana language to South African children and adults through song and movement.

Working with MelonRouge, she came up with a creative multi-sensory design that started with a brief talk on the link between art and information through the ages. She discussed ways to use art to cultivate focus and presence when feeling overwhelmed by technology overload (Ed: this is one of the key reasons Slow Art Day was started a decade ago – to create an antidote to technology’s growing dominance).

After Dr. Brink’s talk, participants were then blindfolded and given a fragrant piece of clay to smell and touch in order to kickstart their senses for the multi-sensory slow looking program they were about to experience.

Blindfolds were then removed and participants starting looking at a painting titled “Injasuthi Valley,” by artist Frances Wedepohl (below). As they slowly gazed, viewers were encouraged to touch and smell a variety of natural materials, including grasses and branches.

“Injasuthi Valley,” by artist Frances Wedepohl

Next, Dr. Brink brought the participants to slowly experience artwork by artist trio Louisa Staude, Louel Staude, and Heinz Schnölzer, titled “An Ode to Fynbos” (below). Visitors were invited to immerse themselves in the essence of this art through exploring the textures, smells and music composed specifically for the installation.

“An Ode to Fynbos” by artist trio Louisa and Louel Staude, and Heinz Schnölzer

Then, during the third viewing, participants were encouraged to taste a range of sweet, sour, and salty candies while slowly savoring artist Trevor Rose’s tryptic titled, “Life’s Journey” (below).

“Life’s Journey” by artist Trevor Rose

With the level of detail, playfulness, and creative multi-sensory focus, this Slow Art Day 2019 was a “resounding success”, with Dr. Brink noting that for both her and the participants “it was amazing!”

We look forward to whatever creative designs MelonRouge and Dr. Brink come up with for Slow Art Day 2020.

– Ashley

Insightful Day at Columbia Museum of Art

Slow Art Day 2019 at the Columbia Museum of Art attracted a small but very invested group of participants. At each stop along the way they experienced the art from a different perspective, whether a deep visual dive, a multi-sensory experience, or a complex conversation about the details within a piece.

The participant conversations were fruitful, and resulted in insights that the docents used in later tours.

We look forward to Columbia Museum of Art’s participation in 2020!

– Ashley

Slow Art Therapy in São Paulo, Brazil

For Slow Art Day 2019, artist and holistic pyschotherapist Henrique Vieira Filho invited groups of up to six participants at a time into the intimacy of his studio, HVF Artes, located in São Paulo, Brazil.

He chose what he thought were the most impactful works and guided participants to slowly observe each piece.

Some participants also chose a quiet session of art therapy.

After slow observation, refreshments were served and guests were invited to talk about the experience of slow looking with the artist.

This was a very interesting design and we look forward to more Brazilian gallery and museum participation in 2020.

– Ashley

Yoga and Ceramics at B-galleria in Turku, Finland

For their third Slow Art Day, B-galleria in Turku, the former capital city of Finland, held a yoga workshop where participants could take a deep breath, stretch their bodies, and look slowly at surrounding works of art.

After the yoga workshop, participants slowly observed B-galleria’s scholarship holder Aino Ojala’s exhibition Seassa / Among, which consisted of ceramic replicas of parts of the skin of the artist and her friends. Studying this work closely obviously made for a unique slow viewing experience.

We look forward to what B-galleria chooses for its art and slow looking design for 2020.

– Ashley

Successful First Slow Art Day for The Treasure Coast

The Treasure Coast Art Association in Fort Pierce, FL hosted their first Slow Art Day this year for the Fort Pierce Art Club members in the home of member Jeanne Johansen.

The morning started with the participants sketching an internationally trained nude model, and was followed by an afternoon exploring art club members’ paintings through various interactive techniques.

Jeanne reported that one of the most fun techniques was to have everyone sit with their backs to the paintings and attempt to draw them as participant Barry Levine described them out loud.

New member, Carol Merrett, engaged the group by asking them to guess what her paintings were before she unveiled her acrylic textured paintings.

Scott Serafica, an art teacher from Texas, brought a beautiful oil still life to be observed. The group paired the artwork with a cup of fragrant tea to complement the teapot in the painting, which engaged the groups sense of smell as they slowly observed it.

The Treasure Coast Art Association is planning their next Slow Art Day event with the Backus Museum in April 2020, and we look forward to hearing what they have in store for their second event.

– Ashley