According to the visitor experience team at Tate Modern, Slow Art Day 2019 was “fantastic.”
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.
Guidelines for the slow-looking were created by Amy Briggs Kemeza, Tour Programs Managerat the ICA. On April 4, they were shared to Instagram, Facebook, and the museum website, where they could also be accessed via a PDF.
Participants could choose artwork in their own home for slow-looking, or use one of the suggested artworks from the ICA’s collection such as Caitlin Keogh, Blank Melody, Old Wall (2018).
The easy-to-follow instructions involved mindful breathing, slow-looking, and stream-of-consciousness note-taking which were well received across the board – with the Instagram post receiving 530+ likes. For anyone wishing to recreate the experience, the material can still be accessed on Instagram, Facebook, and the museum’s website.
One Instagram user commented:
“Happy Slow Art Day! I like the slow art from (artist) Caitlin Keogh very much! Thank you for sharing her work with us in slow motion during this global event, and it fits well with quarantine schedules as it invites us to slow down and enjoy the discoveries art can offer.”
The whole Slow Art Day HQ team was excited by the clear and compelling design of their slow looking instructions as well as by the decision to encourage participants to slowly look at artworks in their home.
We look forward to whatever the ICA Boston comes up with for Slow Art Day 2021.
The conversation between Machado and Brown Goldberg was themed around “the meditative power of creating art through line and color”. Among other things, Brown Goldberg said that entangled lines can be seen as a metaphor for understanding our own lives. She illustrated her comments by using two of her artworks as examples: Extravagant Eden 8 (2015) and Maggie on My Mind (2015).
Viewers shared their own reflections and questions with Machado and posted comments on Florida International University’s (FIU) social media pages. When they were asked if the webinar was helpful in thinking about art and wellness, an impressive 96.15% responded “yes”.
Brown Goldberg said that many might come out of the current Covid19 lockdown with a renewed appreciation of the power of slow looking with art, including how it can impact overall health and wellness.
Though 18% of participants were from the FIU community (including professors, staff, and students), most were from out-of-state and even from a range of countries:
39% from Florida
37% from the Maryland/DC area (where the artist resides)
21% from across the U.S. (CA, NJ, NY, MA, MN, VA)
3% from outside the U.S. (Germany and the United Arab Emirates)
Further, an amazing 60% of the viewers had never visited the Frost Art Museum, which is a testament to how virtual webinars can bring new audiences to museums.
As Slow Art Day Blog Editor, I absolutely loved this webinar and the reflective dialogue between Machado and Brown Goldberg, and recommend it to anyone wishing to engage in a deeper reflection around art, wellness, science, color and lines.
All of us at Slow Art Day look forward to The Frost Art Museum’s 9th Slow Art Day in 2021.
For its 7th Slow Art Day celebration, The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C. turned the day into a whole week of events, featuring 10 women, half of whom are artists of color: Andrea Higgins, Graciela Iturbide, Frida Kahlo, Susan Katz, Yayoi Kusama, Amy Lamb, Delita Martin, Alison Saar, Amy Sherald, and Mickalene Thomas.
Participants in their Slow Art “Week” were invited via the museum website and social media platforms to select and spend 10 minutes with five portraits from among the works of the 10 artists. They were then asked to join a Zoom discussion to reflect on their slow looking experience. A detailed image of Frida Kahlo’s ‘Self-portrait dedicated to Leon Trotsky’ (1937) was also made accessible on the Google Arts & Culture platform and shared as a Facebook post.
The Slow Art Day events were part of the ongoing initiative NMWA at Home, which features an amazing range of art resources – from online exhibitions to Spotify playlists – which can be accessed here. A PDF with instructions for the Slow Art Day specific events is available here. You can also explore more of the NMWA collection here.
One of the featured artists for their Slow Art Week was Amy Sherald, who works to reclaim portraiture and turn it into a celebration of African American individuality. Strongly inspired by Frida Kahlo’s themes and her use of color, Sherald’s art is a critique of historical black representation in both portraiture and photography and seeks to promote black selfhood.
Amy Sherald has also spoken a lot about her work. We’ve included quotes below and encourage you to watch the short YouTube video ‘Amy Sherald: In the Studio.’
“My work is about taking blackness past the stereotypes and opening it up to the imagination.”
“These people have let go of that idea of being watched. They’re there to meet your gaze in a different way. And it’s a critique on historical black representation, whether it be in photography or painting.”
Amy Sherald, quote from Hauser & Wirth’s ‘Amy Sherald: In the Studio’ (YouTube).
The whole Slow Art Day HQ team loves Amy Sherald’s work and we are excited to see such focus on the reframing of conventional art history.
Participants also loved the NMWA’s Slow Art Week. One said it was one of the most “well-planned online (or offline) events they had experienced.” And unlike the previous years when the events were in the museum, this year people from all over the world – from California to the United Kingdom – were able to participate in their great program.
“This has been a super experience in so many ways: the quality of the seeing/interpretation; the generosity of listening/talking; and the sheer excitement of talking to a group of women I do not know in another country in another time zone, in this moment.”
We loved participating in the NMWA’s program and learning so much more about the 10 featured women artists. The Slow Art Day team looks forward to seeing more Slow Art Week (or maybe month?) events at the NMWA in 2021.
– Johanna, Phil and Ashley
P.S. We also have watched with admiration as the NMWA has recently started handing out water and snacks from their museum entrance as one way to support the international protests against racism and police violence.
For the second Slow Art Day hosted by the Katonah Museum of Art (KMA), the museum focused on its Bisa Butler: Portraits exhibit. Renowned for her use of fabric and traditional quilting techniques, Butler reimagines historical black figures and culture in her art, often taking classic photos and turning them into vibrant, multi-colored textiles.
On April 4, 2020, detailed images from one of Butler’s amazing quilts titled‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ were shared to Facebook and Instagram.
We show the full image first (above), but the museum did not include it in their initial posts. Instead, they posted four close-up images (below), captioned with short prompts to encourage deep reflection. Participants were then invited to an in-depth Zoom discussion, led by Marijane, a KMA docent, to explore the whole exhibit and slowly look at some of Butler’s amazing work.
Butler’s stunning textiles are often based on important black and white photographs – the one above of four women sitting on the steps of Atlanta College in 1900.
This particular work engages with complex ideas – ranging from change, power and freedom, to historical symbols of wealth culture – through Butler’s carefully curated patterns and colors. Of course, the title of this work borrows from the title of Nobel-Prize winning poet and writer Maya Angelou’s debut memoir in 1969.
The event was very well received across social media and Zoom. Many participants followed up the event with positive feedback such as:
Thanks for the incredible up close views!
Such a wonderful tour. Thanks so much for making my day.
This was AMAZING!! Thank you so much for hosting slow art day and for hosting it virtually!!!!
At Slow Art Day HQ, we also love Butler’s art and her powerful textiles. These are amazing to slowly look at online and we can only imagine what they are like to see hanging on the museum’s walls. The museum is currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but when the KMA re-opens, we recommend you go if you are near northern Westchester County, New York.
Finally, we note that over 80% of artists from collections across 18 major U.S. museums are still both male and white according to a 2019 survey by PLoS ONE; we are grateful that the KMA is helping to change that.
For its 1st Slow Art Day, The Eaton Gallery in Bloomington, IL, organized a creative drive-by exhibition of “The Illuminated Pages of Ours.”
Due to Covid19, gallery owner Pamala Eaton moved the scheduled exhibition to the gallery’s window display so that it could be seen by pedestrians, cyclists, and anyone happening to drive by without violating social distancing measures.
Featuring contemporary works by 11 local artists, the exhibition was themed around references to the history of manuscript illumination. Strongly inspired by the illuminations in The Book of Kells (c. 800 C.E.), Eaton invited local artists to creatively use medieval manuscripts as inspiration for their own work in the exhibition.
Featured artists: Mary Jo Adam, Angel Ambrose, Janean Baird, Jeannie Breitweiser, Doug DeLong/Veronica Strotzka, Herb Eaton, Joann Goetzinger, Rick Harney, Jane Osborn, Melanie Shellito, and Brian Simpson/Rachel Cofer.
Although originally planned as an in-gallery event, Eaton was delighted that the exhibition was still able to take place through the window-display; which enabled even more people to see it. The gallery also recently hosted another drive-by exhibition due to continued lockdown measures.
“We have so many talented artists in this community. We need to celebrate what those gifts are and be willing to share them. Even in this time of stress, it’s a good way to take your mind off of something and try to find some hope and faith and move forward.”
The Slow Art Day HQ team has loved reading about the Eaton Gallery event. I especially appreciate the strong emphasis on the local artist community. It reminds us how important art can be in fostering connection, perhaps especially during times such as the present.
We look forward to Slow Art Day 2021, when we hope The Eaton Gallery will participate with another wonderful event.
Participants were encouraged to choose an image, drawing or photo to look at for 5-10 minutes and find a comfortable seated position. The Fotomuseum outlined 5 stages for its meditative slow-looking activity:
“Close your eyes. Pay attention to your breath, and put one hand on your stomach to feel it. If your mind wanders, return to your breath. Breathe in for 4 seconds and out for 6. Repeat this 5 times.”
2) Look at your artwork
“Open your eyes and look at the artwork with the same alertness you had for your breath. Ask yourself the following questions:
What do you notice?
What colors, composition, shapes and materials do you see?
Does the artwork remind you of events from your own life?
Would anyone else notice the same things as you?
If your mind wanders, try to return to the image.”
“Close your eyes a second time, and return focus to your breathing. Take a few deep breaths so you feel the air flow deeply into your lungs, and then breathe as normal again. Pay attention to any thoughts about the artwork, but try to not lose yourself in them. Return to your breathing again.”
4) Look a second time
“Open your eyes and look at the artwork for the second time.
What stands out to you now?
Do you notice anything new?
Does the artwork take on a new meaning for you?”
“Take a moment to reflect on the exercise.
Did you notice yourself thinking or looking in a different way?
Do you have a new or different connection with the artwork?”
The original in-person event planned by the museum attracted interest from over 150 prospective attendees, and the online instructions were shared to Facebook with 50+ interactions.
At Slow Art Day HQ we have loved using these thoughtful instructions for our own slow-looking. Try them out at home for yourself!
We look forward to The Fotomuseum’s 6th Slow Art Day in 2021 ― hopefully in their actual museum.
Note: The above instructions were translated from the original Dutch.
PS – You may want to take a look at the webinar they did for Slow Art Day last year.
For their 5th Slow Art Day, the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, Georgia, combined two meditative art techniques by artist Anna Bogatin Ott: Slow Looking and Slow Drawing.
For the slow looking activity, participants were invited to look closely at the painting Aurora by Anna Bogatin Ott, and were guided by prompts via a PDF file, such as:
“How do the repetitive marks guide your gaze around the painting?”
“Imagine the painting so far away it becomes a speck, then zoom in so close that it’s touching your nose.”
Since Ott’s art is inspired by nature, participants were also encouraged to reflect on similarities between the colors of the painting and nature.
“I engage all my senses, dissolve into surrounding sounds, become immersed in the nature’s logic of being, and then, from memory, I recreate my experiences in drawings and paintings.”
Anna Bogatin Ott
For the slow drawing part of the event, participants were encouraged to draw horizontal lines while trying to stay in touch with their physical sensations — focusing attention on the sound of their breath, the feel of the texture of the paper, and the visual effect of negative and positive space between the lines. The activity became a mindful way of remaining present through a multi-sensory art experience.
Pre-event Virtual Jigsaw Puzzle
Leading up to the main event, the museum shared a virtual interactive jigsaw puzzle of their featured painting to their Facebook page. Several participants completed the jigsaw, and the post reached 647 readers.
Without being formally promoted, their event was a social media success with over 2000 Instagram impressions and 185 Facebook interactions.
The Slow Art Day HQ team has loved participating in these mindful activities. They made us feel centered and at peace, which is a big part of what Slow Art Day is all about.
We look forward to seeing more of The Georgia Museum of Art’s immersive events – hopefully for Slow Art Day 2021.
For its 4th Slow Art Day, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens hosted its first virtual event with an interactive online map of mosaic murals by founding artist Isaiah Zagar. During the event, they shared photos on their Facebook page of three murals located in close proximity to each other in South Philadelphia. They urged attendees to either look at the photos online, or, if possible, walk over to them and view them in real space (Note: all murals are public and thereby easy to view without violating quarantine).
Guided by prompts, participants were encouraged to send their thoughts about the murals to Allison Boyle, Events & Marketing Manager at Philly’s Magic Gardens, who was available online during the event to answer questions.
Alissa Giangiulio, one of the event participants, said that she could see some of the artist Isaiah Zagar himself in the mural on 1328 S. 8th Street (pictured above), and commented that:
“Art makes love go around, especially in a close knit city community!”
People participated during Slow Art Day and in the days that followed. Further, the Facebook post itself was viewed by over 4000 people and received 150 likes, comments, and shares. According to Allison, this was a stronger response than typical.
At Slow Art Day HQ we are firm admirers of Philly’s Magic Gardens, and love the ways that Zagar’s murals encourage people to stop and reflect in the streets (and on online).
When Slow Art Day started 10 years ago, we were happy to use the Internet primarily to promote Slow Art Day and send more people into real spaces. Despite having to shift more online this year due to Covid19, we have loved how museums and galleries like Philly’s Magic Gardens have pivoted to creating virtual experiences (or, in this case combination virtual and physical).
We look forward to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens Slow Art Day participation in 2021.
The Google Arts platform allowed participants to zoom in on the 5 selected artworks to closely study brushstrokes and textures. Participants were then encouraged to consider the wider social context of each work and provide their commentary via the museum’s Facebook and Twitter accounts — which reached more than 4000 people during the event. The museum produced a video (in Latvian) about Google Arts and slow looking that is still available to download.
Sandra Kempele, Curator of Education at Riga Bourse, reflected on how “encouraging [it is] to be part of this global community” of Slow Art Day especially now in the face of changing and trying circumstances.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we heartily echo this sentiment. Despite still advocating for the special experience of viewing art in museums, we are continually encouraged by the creativity and adaptability showcased by art institutions such as the Riga Bourse during this pandemic.
We look forward to the Riga Bourse’s continued participation in 2021 –hopefully in their actual museum.
Participants were invited to slowly view a photograph from the museum’s archive, and given prompts for reflection. Responses were then emailed to Sara Lugo, Curator at Museo Pedagógico de Aragón, for collation.
The 1959 photo, titled ‘Sewing Afternoon’ (or ‘Afternoon of Work’), depicts the female teacher Rosa Mairal and students from a small town in northern Spain during General Franco’s dictatorship.
The image sparked discussion around a range of topics, including the working conditions of female teachers, the types of subjects taught to girls, and the current role of women in education.
Participants concluded that the education of women has greatly improved since 1959, but many changes still need to be made, especially in working conditions for women all over the world.
The museum’s virtual event received 84 views of the event listing, and over 1000 Twitter interactions and Facebook views.
Sara Lugo, Curator at Museo Pedagógico de Aragón, said she really liked Slow Art Day and hopes to continue in the future when we can return to the physical museums and galleries.
At Slow Art Day HQ we are delighted that Museo Pedagógico de Aragón has begun their Slow Art Day journey with such a wonderful event and very much look forward to their continued participation.