Slow Art Week, Slavery, and the University of Alabama

For their first Slow Art Week, Sharony Green, Associate Professor of History at the University of Alabama, and Brandon Thompson, Director of the UA Gorgas House Museum worked with students and artists to create and display a public art installation that helped history students and the campus as a whole think slowly about slavery and Antebellum America.

Dr. Green (pictured below) and her “Antebellum America” class created a 63-foot burlap with individual pieces that were displayed as a work-in-progress on April 1, eve of Slow Art Day, and then hung from Gorgas House later in the month once finished. Further, Dr. Green invited students from her “America since 1865” class to come and look slowly at the work of their Antebellum-focused student colleagues.

Dr. Sharony Green (left) and her students (right)

In her blog, Dr Green suggested to students, faculty, and staff that they slow down to think about the “enslaved artisans, including women, who… sewed out of necessity and maybe even survival.”

She further explained that tapestry also “offers a chance to ponder what textiles represent in a modernizing country in the years leading to the Civil War and what textiles mean today when we celebrate all things ‘handmade’ and what Koritha Mitchell labels as ‘homemade citizenship.'”

Gorgas House shared a digital interview about the students’ process and Dr. Green also talked about the process in the YouTube video below.

2 minute YouTube video by Dr. Sharony Green

The event was a real success on campus and across the online landscape including WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin.

We encourage other professors to take inspiration from Dr. Green and think about how to weave Slow Art Day into their classes and campus museums – including, as Dr. Green has done, with classes outside of the studio art or art history departments.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we certainly look forward to what Dr. Green comes up with in 2023 to teach us how to look and think slowly about American history and its most challenging and troubling aspects.

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