The Art Gallery of St. Albert, Canada, pivoted their 2021 event at the last minute from planned in-person sessions to their social media pages and the Gallery’s virtual exhibitions. They did this because four days before Slow Art Day 2021, the Canadian provincial government announced further lockdowns.
The situation the Gallery faced is, of course, similar to what many other museums have had to contend with since this pandemic began in 2020. However, time after time, we have seen museum educators, directors, and curators rise to the challenge and connect people to each other and to art in new and creative ways.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that the Art Gallery of St. Albert decided to commemorate and promote slow looking despite not being able to host their event as planned. Leah Louden, Interim Director, said that they are already planning their Slow Art Day 2022.
To the staff at the Art Gallery of St. Albert, and all other museums and galleries that had planned events which did not go through — thank you for supporting Slow Art Day and your communities through these trying times.
– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl
PS. You can find out more about the Art Gallery of St. Albert here, on their IG, or Facebook Page.
We also recommend checking out one of their beautifully designed annual reports
For their 8th Slow Art Day, the McMaster Museum of Art in Hamilton (ON), Canada, hosted a slow looking Zoom session led by McMaster BFA students Donna Nadeem, Julianna Biernacki and Jill Letten, and it focused on their own work and on art by John Hartman, a McMaster alumni.
On April 10, participants were invited to look slowly at the painting by John Hartman, followed by discussion. Donna, Julianna and Jill, graduating BFA students, also showed and discussed their own work, part of the McMaster Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition for graduating students: QUIXOTIC. Meaning “all that is deemed idealistic, starry-eyed and impractical”, the word ‘quixotic’ inspired all pieces in the exhibition (Curator’s Statement by Alexis Moline).
The event was well received, with the Instagram post being liked 70+ times. Participants also left glowing feedback:
“I’m so thrilled to look at more than just the subjects and colors. I’ve never been good at interpretation but this has been the light bulb moment I was looking for.”
We love this quote, and hear this all the time from Slow Art Day attendees — simply slowing down to look creates “light bulb” moments.
You can find out more about the QUIXOTIC exhibition on the Museum’s Instagram. Their Facebookand Twitter pages are also great places to find out more about its collections and events.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we want to thank the McMaster Museum for the long-time leadership they have provided to the Slow Art Day movement, including this year’s creative design, featuring work by former and current students at the University.
We are already excited about seeing what they come up with for 2022.
For their first Slow Art Day, The Gardiner Museum in Toronto, Canada, hosted an immersive virtual event with a multi-sensory focus.
On April 4, four photos of Linda Swanson’s TEMPLUM OF A PRECIOUS THING OF NO VALUE, A SHAPELESS THING OF MANY SHAPES, 2020, were shared to social media in intervals. An event outline was also available as a downloadable PDF, which can be viewed in full here. Because their session was so well designed, we have included more detail in the excerpted prompts below.
Participants were encouraged to spend 5-10 minutes with each photo, and consider the accompanying prompts and questions:
Imagine yourself seated on the bench next to the installation. Take in the full picture. Let your eyes move slowly around the image as you absorb what you’re seeing.
Focus on each individual element of the work. What kinds of lines and shapes do you notice?
Consider the areas of light and shadow. How does the lighting influence the mood or feel of the installation?
What do you think you’ll see as you move closer? What textures and patterns might appear?
Once again, take in the full picture. Let your eyes move slowly around the image as you grasp this new perspective and information.
What do you notice now that you may not have perceived in the first image? Does this change your impression or understanding of the work?
Shift your attention to the cables. What kinds of shapes and forms do you notice in the negative space around and between the cables?
Consider the weight of the water contained in each membrane. Close your eyes and imagine that your arms are the cables holding them above the ground. What do you experience?
Again, take in the full picture. Let your eyes move slowly around the image as you register the new details.
How does this perspective add to or change your interpretation of the artwork up to this point?
Close your eyes and picture yourself gently pressing a finger against the nylon membrane. Feel the weight of the water shifting. Does it remind you of a sensation you’ve experienced before?
Narrow in on the water droplets that are gathered on the membrane. Imagine poking them with your finger. How would the water feel running down your hand?
For the last time, let your eyes move slowly around the image as you take it in.
What would it feel like to run your fingers through the clay? To pick up a handful.
Close your eyes and imagine the smell of the clay, both dry and wet. What does it smell like? Is it earthy? Musty? Chalky?
Now consider the work as its own ecosystem or world. How would you describe it to a friend? How would you articulate its look, feel, and smell?
This was such a well-designed slow looking session that we hope more people who are reading this on the Slow Art Day website will take the time to go through this event themselves.
The Gardiner Museum is one of many museums that had to quickly re-think how to keep the public engaged with art during the Covid19 pandemic. By using photos and descriptive prompts of the installation from their special exhibition RAW, they successfully produced an imaginative multi-sensory experience – even with the added element of being virtual.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we absolutely love how immersive this event was. It reminded us how powerfully our minds can conjure up the real-life experiences of textures, shapes, weight, and scents.
We very much hope that The Gardiner Museum will continue hosting Slow Art Day events – and in their actual museum space in 2021.
Note: The listed prompts were selected from the original, full list of prompts provided by The Gardiner Museum.
Because of Covid-19, the McMaster Museum of Art in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, hosted their seventh Slow Art Day as a virtual “slow reveal” event via their Instagram account @macmuseum.
Over a 90 minute period, nine detailed image fragments of Franklin Carmichael’s Spring Snow were published in 10-minute intervals on the museum’s Instagram feed, with the full artwork being revealed at the end.
Participants were invited to reflect on each of the detailed images as they were posted, and a discussion was facilitated in the caption to each post, and in the McMaster Instagram stories.
The Instagram stories for the McMaster Slow Art Day event had almost 200 views, and the posts themselves were seen by 350 people. A recap of the event is available for anyone who would like to recreate it at home.
When we started Slow Art Day 10 years ago, we were adamant that all the sessions be *offline* in the museums. We Internet veterans were happy to use the Internet to promote and support Slow Art Day but we wanted to use the web in the service of sending more people into real spaces. This year, however, we had no choice and are delighted to see the creative ways museums like the McMaster hosted virtual events for our 10th anniversary Slow Art Day.
We look forward – we hope – to the eighth McMaster Museum of Art’s Slow Art Day in their actual museum in 2021.
Laura Demers, TD Curator of Education and Outreach Fellow, wrote a series of prompts that were posted online, alongside close-up photos highlighting specific details in the four artworks. Viewers across the globe were invited to respond to these prompts, either by sharing their impressions in writing (stories, lists, poems, short paragraphs, or social media comments) or by engaging in small multi-sensory activities at home.
The downloadable PDF from the event is permanently posted on their website for participants to continue to use at their own pace.
Laura mentioned that the event was so well received that it produced over 350 new Instagram followers, and thousands of likes from the community across all of their social media accounts.
Josh Heuman, Curator of Education & Public Programs at The Power Plant, writes that:
“In little ways, this COVID-19 pandemic is pushing us to re-think how we might use online platforms to think beyond the four walls of The Power Plant.”
We are encouraged by the creative responses to the challenge of hosting virtual events during these difficult times, and look forward to The Power Plant’s continued participation in 2021.
For their first Slow Art Day event, InterAccess in Toronto, Canada examined slow looking in relation to time-based media. They welcomed renowned artist Lisa Steele to the gallery to lead a two-hour tour of the exhibition of Daniel Young & Christian Giroux’s work Film Path / Camera Path with under-titles, which merges sculpture practice with film installation using high tech design and manufacturing technologies.
First, Lisa Steele led a discussion with participants on slow looking, and invited them to read aloud the artist-contributed texts that accompanied the show, written by John Barlow, Ina Blom, Eric Cazdyn, Geoffrey Farmer, Agnieszka Gratza, Daniel Hambleton, Erín Moure, Bridget Moser, Judy Radul, Patricia Reed, Reza Negarestani, Mohammad Salemy, and Michael Snow.
Next, the visitors were encouraged to take time viewing the three different components of Young & Giroux’s work in the gallery – the film screen, the mechanical sculpture, and an LED sign displaying the texts the participants had read earlier in the session.
We love to hear how organizations promote slow looking across diverse media, and look forward to seeing what InterAccess has in store for Slow Art Day 2020.
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.
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.
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.
Valerie Arntzen, assemblage artist at AMP Studio in Vancouver, Canada, invited Slow Art Day 2019 participants to look at one of two pieces of her artwork slowly and then discuss the experience.
Not surprisingly, Valerie found — as Marcel Duchamp once said — that the “spectator completes the work of the artist.” In other words, the Slow Art Day participants were active co-creators of Valerie’s art bringing new and varied meaning and perspective.
It’s great to have artists and “spectators” directly interact via slow looking. In fact, we invite artists all over the world to open up their studios for Slow Art Day and hope that more will follow Valerie’s example next year.
The Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada participated in their first Slow Art Day in 2019 by inviting visitors to slow down with ceramics, glass and mixed media from Canadian artists.
After one hour of slow looking, visitors gathered for 30 minutes to discuss their observations about the material and meaning of the works, including the hidden qualities and stories they discovered.
According to The Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery, one participant said it was “exhilarating to meet new people and share so many diverse perspectives about the artwork.”
We look forward to the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery’s participation again in 2020!