[Note: Slow Art Day 2021 is coming up Saturday, April 10 – read the 2020 report for ideas on how to design your slow looking events.]
In this interview, Annalisa Banzi, Ph.D. (researcher in museum studies, psychology and neuroscience at CESPEB-Bicocca University) shares some ideas on “Wellness and Museums” with Elisabetta Roncati (art influencer), and focuses on Slow Art Day as a great example of programs that help with mental health.
Banzi and Roncati discuss the powerful effect of slow looking and how Slow Art Day is radically inclusive – i.e., allows people to include themselves in the art experience.
Moreover, Banzi argues that Slow Art Day has become a useful way to enhance people’s mental wellbeing during the pandemic *and* has given an important way for museums to interact with visitors all over the world.
The videos were accompanied by prompts, and viewers were invited to respond in the comments.
We have included the prompts below. Why not watch the videos and try some slow looking?
Prompt to the Vance Barry video:
Think about the landscape features you see. What colors and shapes do you notice? How would this landscape sound if you were there? What, if anything, is missing from the landscape?
Prompt to the Sally Veach video:
Think about the colors you see and the shapes you notice. Take a deep breath and look again. Do you notice a different shape or color this time?What time of year do you think the artist is trying to convey? Does this painting remind you of anything you’ve seen out in the world? How does it make you feel?
In total the videos reached 800+ people. Several participants left comments on Facebook, describing Sally Veach’s paintings as “breathtaking”. One viewer also noted that ‘Autumn Ascension’ made him think of the chill of fall before an incoming storm.
Thank you to Mary Ladrick, Director of Education, and her team for hosting a great first Slow Art Day event. The 2020 pandemic meant that museums and galleries had to host virtual events this year, but the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley really rose to the challenge.
We look forward to what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2021.
For their third Slow Art Day, the Sint-Pauluskerk in Antwerp, Belgium, produced a slow-panning video of Peter Paul Rubens’ painting ‘The Flagellation of Christ’.
Narrated by Wilfried Van den Brande, with text by Rudi Mannaerts, the video features the stunning inside of the church and a commentary on Rubens’ artwork (click on the photo below to watch).
Previously on loan to the Doge’s palace in Venice, the painting returned to Antwerp in time for the Slow Art Day event. Since Easter fell on the week following Slow Art Day this year, the painting’s theme of Christ’s suffering fit in well with the pre-Easter church calendar.
Many thanked the church for sharing the video, and several explicitly talked about how much they missed visiting the actual church. The Facebook video was viewed 2,535 times.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we are delighted that the thoughtful connection between the event hosted by Sint-Pauluskerk and the Easter holiday was so well received.
We hope that Sint-Pauluskerk will be able to open its doors for Slow Art Day 2021.
For their second Slow Art Day, Railway Street Studios in Auckland, New Zealand, hosted a virtual event focused on Toni Mosley’s ‘CASE: Allegory’ series of art, which was inspired by the simple question: ‘what’s your baggage?’
As a result of thinking about that question, Mosley decided to explore suitcases as metaphorical symbols for emotional baggage, notions of mobility and journeys, and as containers of secrets, knowledge and memories. Not surprisingly, this theme ended up having significant resonance for home-bound viewers during the pandemic.
On April 4th, 2020, participants were invited to look slowly for 5-10 minutes at a selection of Mosley’s art:
Participants were given four prompts to guide their slow looking:
What do you notice? The obvious and the subtle.
Does this remind you of anything? A story — personal, historical. A single meaning or multiple?
Color and mood? Do you have an initial emotional response?
Does this piece bring up any questions? This could be metaphorical or technical.
The challenge that Railway Street Studios had to confront in the design of its virtual event was how to encourage attendees to really slow down and look. They came up with a simple, but effective, strategy: ask people to write down and send in their answers to the four prompts above for the chance to win an original artwork by Toni Mosley.
Fiona Cable, founder of Railway Street Studios, said it worked. Participants enjoyed the process and took time to think carefully about answers to the prompts, which they then submitted via a link on the Railway Street Studios’ website.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we thoroughly enjoyed the depth of symbolism in Toni Mosley’s artworks — especially given the shut-down of travel during the pandemic — and were also impressed by Railway Street Studios’ initiative to host a prize competition as a way to incentivize virtual slow looking.
We hope to see another creative event from Railway Street Studios for Slow Art Day on April 10th in 2021.
For their second Slow Art Day, the Mississippi Museum of Art shared a slow-panning video of Vincent van Gogh’s “Daisies, Arles” (1888).
The video featured close-ups of the painting alongside commentary by Victoria Meek, Associate Curator for Family and Studio Programs. The painting is her favorite artwork from the Mississippi Museum of Art exhibition “Van Gogh, Monet, Degas and Their Times,” which was postponed due to the pandemic.
McKenzie Drake, Assistant Curator of Public Programs and Community Engagement, said that the video was well-received across social media, with 830+ views and likes on Instagram and Facebook.
One person posted a picture of roses as a thematic connection, and others praised our education staff for providing insightful interpretation of the work. We were pleased to have produced something that could allow our audience to take a closer look at one of the iconic works on view.
McKenzie Drake, Assistant Curator of Public Programs and Community Engagement
Following the positive feedback on the video, the Museum created a new “Mindful Art Moment” video series on their Facebook page, encouraging viewers to think differently about what they see in works of art.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we are excited to see the Museum build new programs based on the success of its Slow Art Day initiative. This is core to our mission: use the annual event to encourage museums to adopt year-round programming.
We look forward to seeing what the Mississippi Museum of Art has in store for Slow Art Day 2021.
For their second Slow Art Day the MOMus Thessaloniki Museum of Photography hosted two Zoom discussions on the themes of personal and public space and notions of “home”.
The virtual sessions took place on April 4th and 8th, 2020, and focused on slow looking at a selection of photographs from the Museum’s collection, including:
Panos Kokkinias’ ‘Smoke’ from the “Home” Series, 1994-1995.
Yiannis Stylianou, ‘Parade’, 1967.
Images of the photos were shared with participants the day before the event. On the day, after observing the photographs, participants shared opinions and ideas which quickly evolved into a discussion about home and life during the then-current Covid19 lockdown in Greece.
The eagerness of participants to continue the discussion meant that the first Zoom session lasted longer than the planned two hours. Since the event was so popular, a second session was organized for April 8th.
The events generated significant positive feedback with attendees describing it as a great opportunity to keep in touch with the outside world during lockdown. Maria Kokorotskou, MOMus Acting Director, also said that all participants asked the Museum to host in-person slow looking events after the pandemic.
At Slow Art Day HQ we love this event and choice of theme and photographs. We also are very happy to hear that attendees wanted the Museum to host more slow looking events after the lockdown.
In fact, we hope to see MOMus Thessaloniki Museum of Photography host events throughout the year, including Slow Art Day 2021!
For their fourth Slow Art Day, the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (HKMM), collaborated with 21 Masters of Art students in Creative Media at City University of Hong Kong to design three guidebooks and activity kits for children, linked to current exhibits on migrant workers, seafarers, and container terminals.
The guidebooks and activity kits they created can be found online here:
Sailing in the Sea (migrant workers)
Between Clouds and Sea (container terminals)
Homeland on the Sea (seafarers)
The project is the third collaboration between the HKMM and the City University students for Slow Art Day, and aims to spread awareness of Hong Kong’s identity as a seaport city, past and present, and its future in sustainable development. Originally designed as a one-day event specifically for Slow Art Day, it was changed into a set of activity kits in response to the Covid19 lockdown.
The project is available to view on the museum’s website. The guidebooks are well designed with beautiful illustrations and, today, can be used while visiting the museum, which is now open for groups of up to 4 only due to the pandemic.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we are excited to see collaborations between museums and universities as well as events aimed at families and children. We look forward to another HKMM and City University Slow Art Day project in 2021!
For their fifth Slow Art Day, The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA, invited the public via Instagram to look slowly at Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de la Peña’s ‘The Approaching Storm.’
The event was inspired by the Norton Simon’s regular Mindful Looking sessions, where visitors focus on looking at one artwork for one hour.
Viewers were guided by two prompts:
Step inside this scene and sit under the light.
How does it feel? In times of uneasiness, where do you find light?
We’d also like to note that the museum provided an unusually good description of the artwork – not filled with jargon but instead with accessible, compelling, and even poetic words.
”In the midst of an approaching storm, a beacon of light shines down through a gunmetal sky onto a rocky landscape. A lone woman by the rocks nestled in the middle of the scene reminds us that we are part of this earth. At right, a tree is bent and blasted but does not break.”
Description of ‘The Approaching Storm’, The Norton Simon Museum, Slow Art Day 2020.
Mariko Tu, Manager of Youth and Family Programs at the Norton Simon Museum, said that slow-looking visitors loved the experience and the post was liked 600+ times.
The Slow Art Day HQ team also participated. We imagined ourselves in this scene; felt the soft warmth of the light, and really immersed ourselves in the calm before the storm. Although the lone woman in the painting seemed small, we came to believe that she is filled with strength and courage from the light despite the dark skies.
We look forward to whatever The Norton Simon Museum comes up with for Slow Art Day 2021.
For their first Slow Art Day the IAACC Pablo Serrano in Zaragoza, Spain, highlighted four works by female photographers from the Museum’s archive:
Grete Stern, Sueño 39, 1949.
Cristina Martín Lara, “Si yo supiera a qué se debe…/ Wenn ich nur wüsste woran das liegt…(1) II”, 2004.
Mapi Rivera, “Estelación crepuscular”, 2004.
Liang Yuanwei, “S/T, Series: ‘Don’t forget to say you love me’, 2005.
The photos were part of the virtual project “Visiones transversales en torno a Circa XX. A través de mi cuerpo / A través de tu cuerpo” (“Transversal visions circa XX. Through my body / Through your body”) which explores women, their physical bodies, as well as their social and artistic agency.
For example, Stern’s “Sueño 39” denounces obstacles women faced in 1940s Argentina. Yuanwei’s self-portrait series “Don’t forget to say you love me” is a parody of erotic photographs of women which comments on the male gaze and the objectification of women.
On April 4th, 2020, the photos were shared on social media, accompanied by prompts and brief descriptions. Viewers were encouraged to look slowly at each photograph and then to share their reflections online. The Museum also produced a short video of the four works, which can be viewed below.
The photos were liked many times on social media and some participants, and even some artists, posted inspiring reflections. One of the photographers, Cristina Martín Lara, commented on Facebook:
What a joy to be part of this Slow Art Day initiative to show everyone the Cirka XX Collection in our confinement. Thank you for making it possible! (Translated from Spanish)
Cristina Martín Lara
Several participants also posted reflections in connection with individual photographs. For example:
Even in the most idyllic context we can find something that makes us stop suddenly, causing us pain that only time, and not the context, can mitigate. (Translated from Spanish)
Participant response to Grete Stern’s “Sueño 39”, Instagram.
At Slow Art Day HQ we are inspired by the depth of symbolism in these photographs. The works in the Cirka XX project are exciting to consider one-by-one and even more powerful when viewed in relation to each other. We recommend that all Slow Art Day readers look at the photos posted above as well as the video.
We want to also thank María Luisa Grau Tello, curator at IAACC Pablo Serrano, as well as Julio Ramón Sanz, Eva María Alquézar, Alba Rodrigo Urmente, Gloria Sánchez Martín, Silvia Abad Villarroya and Alfredo Blanco Morte for hosting the Museum’s innagural Slow Art Day event.
We look forward to what the IAACC comes up with for Slow Art Day in 2021!
For their first Slow Art Day, the Musée Stewart in Montréal, Canada, invited participants to watch slow-motion videos of two pieces in the NIGHTS exhibit (below).
After watching the videos, viewers were encouraged to close their eyes and describe or draw the artifacts from memory. They were asked, “What do you remember?” and “Why do you remember what you remember?”
At Slow Art Day HQ, we decided to participate ourselves. Watching the videos felt almost like traveling slowly through space. The experience demonstrates something most video artists know: just how powerful slow-motion videos can be.
We also found that the memory drawing exercise was a wonderful way to connect a physical activity to a memory. We recommend that other Slow Art Day hosts consider this simple but powerful memory drawing exercise.
The Slow Art Day team loved Musée Stewart’s first Slow Art Day and we are excited to see what creative initiatives they develop for 2021.