Meditation on Color: Slow Art Day in Dubai

For their second Slow Art Day, the Jameel Arts Centre, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, hosted an in-person slow looking and meditation event dedicated to Hiwa K’s work ‘My Father’s Colour Period.’

In April, (pre-registered) participants were invited to the centre for a free slow looking meditation event, led by Palestinian artist and designer Faissal El-Malak. The session focused on ‘My Father’s Colour Period‘, an instillation by Hiwa K, which is currently on display at Jameel Arts Centre as part of the solo exhibition: ‘Hiwa K: Do you remember what you are burning?

Hiwa K. ‘My Father’s Colour Period’, from the solo exhibition by Hiwa K. ‘Do you remember what you are burning?’ 11000×500.
Courtesy of Jameel Arts Centre. Photo by Daniella Baptista.

The instillation is based on the artist’s memories:

“A rumor spread in 1979 that the state-owned television station would show a film in color despite the fact that most televisions were black and white. Unlike in cities with Arab inhabitants, the majority of the people in the Kurdish area of Iraq still didn’t have color TV sets.

So my father decided to cut a sheet of colored cellophane and stick it on the screen of our TV at home. It stayed a whole week until he switched it to another color […] After a while, I realized that my father was not the only one making his own color TV. Many other people in the Kurdish area had devised their own unique filters.”

Hiwa K. Quote taken from the artist’s website.
Hiwa K. My Father’s Colour Period’ from the solo exhibition ‘Do you remember what you are burning?’ 11000×500.
Courtesy of Jameel Arts Centre. Photo by Daniella Baptista.

On April 10, participants were encouraged to wear comfortable clothing and bring yoga mats or blankets to sit on. They first looked slowly at the installation, then closed their eyes and participated in a meditation on color. Participants were guided through various steps to explore the idea of shades and nuances in color. After the meditation, participants had the opportunity to discuss their emotions and reflections on the experience.

Visitors watching the installation by Hiwa K. ‘Do you remember what you are burning?’
Courtesy of Jameel Arts Centre. Photo by Daniella Baptista.

Following the meditation, participants were given a guided tour of the current exhibitions at the Centre, including the remainder of the solo exhibition.

The event was part of an ongoing series at the Centre, which focuses on promoting engagement with art as a wellness practice. The Centre had a similar theme for their first Slow Art Day in 2020, which was a virtual and guided meditation. It can still be experienced here.

If you would like to know more about events at Jameel Art Centre, you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the way Faissal El-Malak and the team at Jameel Art Center designed their 2021 Slow Art Day. The photos of visitors watching the installation and the inclusion of meditation and yoga mats makes us wish we could have been there.

And as we look slowly at this installation, we find ourselves eagerly anticipating how future artists will help us see the Covid-19 pandemic in new ways.

We look forward to whatever the Jameel Art Centre comes up with for their third Slow Art Day in 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

Open to Being Slow in Virginia

For their first Slow Art Day on April 10, 2021, Open to Being, a community-building organization based in Arlington, Virginia, hosted a virtual slow looking event and set of interactive exercises.

Theresa Esterlund, the founder of Open to Being, led a 45-minute session focused on artist Foon Sham’s outdoor sculpture ‘Ridge’ (2018), and participants were invited to join via Zoom or Facebook Live.

Foon Sham. Ridge. 2018. Public installation located in Oakland Park, Arlington, Virginia.
Photograph by Theresa Esterlund.

After looking slowly at the sculpture for 7-10 minutes, participants were invited to share and discuss their observations using the following questions and creative prompts:

Questions

  • What did the experience feel like to you?
  • What surprised you?
  • What inspired you?
  • What sparked your curiosity?
  • What do you remember the most?

Creative prompts

  • Write a 6 word story or Haiku
  • Use scraps of paper or other materials to build something
  • Take a photo
  • Design a symbol
  • Draw

Pictures and notes submitted by the participants in response to the creative prompts

The event was well received, and participants felt that the program was very accessible:

“I really appreciated the way your program unfolded. I did feel like I was transported to the park in a way, it was engaging in that we could almost compare notes with each other as guests on Zoom.”

Participant’s comment

With 25 years of experience in science, history, and art museum education, Esterlund is also an artist who now teaches yoga and meditation alongside her work with Open to Being. She sees a clear connection between slow looking at art and mindfulness:

“Looking at art slowly is an opportunity to practice mindfulness – being with everything that’s going on at any given moment and experiencing everything without judging or getting caught up in it. That kind of experience can lead to openings, which might be experienced long after the program. The emphasis was on the experience, with the artwork as a pathway and essential element of that experience, rather than on the art itself.”

Theresa Esterlund

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love it when hosts integrate slow looking, mindfulness and play. We can’t wait to see what creative design Esterlund comes up with for Slow Art Day 2022.

-Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

PS. You can view a recording of the event, and check out the Open to Being Facebook page for more information about upcoming events.

Red Zenith asks: What is Your Definition of Slow Art?

For their first Slow Art Day, the online platform Red Zenith Collective launched on April 10, 2021 the project ‘What is Your Definition of Slow Art?‘ with a day-long series of four virtual activities dedicated to the meaning and potential of slow art.

These activities included:

  • An Instagram interview about slow art and sustainability.
  • A downloadable PDF with slow looking prompts, available to participants throughout the day.
  • A collaborative video project: ‘What is Your Definition of Slow Art?
  • An art meditation on the painting ‘Flamenco Singer‘ (Sonia Delaunay, 1916).
Sonia Delaunay, Flamenco Singer, 1916

Red Zenith Collective was founded by two Polish artists, Marta Grabowska and Zula Rabikowska as a platform for women, female-identifying and non-binary creatives with a link to Central and Eastern Europe. The Slow Art Day event was conceptualized and realized by Marta Grabowska, who is also a slow art activist.

Participants were first invited to watch an Instagram interview on definitions of slow art, including how to cultivate sustainability of slow looking in art and curatorship. Marta Grabowska interviewed Veronika Cechova and Tereza Jindrova, curators at the Entrance Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic – the first artistic space in Prague to include ecological sustainability and the environment in its long-term program.

Watch the recorded interview here.

Grawbowska also created a terrific ‘Guide to Slow Looking: Slow Art Exercises – Pandemic Edition.’ We highly recommend all Slow Art Day educators and curators take a look at this and learn from her approach.

The final event of the day was a Zoom art meditation on the painting ‘Flamenco Singer‘ by a Russian-French artist Sonia Delaunay. The meditation was the first in a series of art meditations written by Grabowska, who wrote the script. The meditation lasted 20 minutes and was scripted based on primary and secondary sources of the artists and their work.

Participants loved the program, and left very positive feedback:



Amazing way to focus your attention and learn a bit of art history. 

Shane Hart


A very memorable experience. Allowed me to be mindful and really enjoy the vibrant artwork.

Julia 


Great idea to marry meditation practices and art! I want more! 

Anonymous


I wasn’t sure what to expect, as the name of the artist was not released until the last minute, but it was a gorgeous experience. The koshi bells were mesmerising! Both the writer and the provider are very knowledgeable and managed to create an alternative education setting that captivated us greatly!

Anonymous


At Slow Art Day HQ, we are impressed by and excited to learn more about Marta Grabowska’s ongoing research – perhaps even as part of the 2022 Red Zenith Collective Slow Art Day!

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, Phyl

Northern Lights Gallery Hosts First Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day, the Northern Lights Gallery (located in Melfort, Canada, which is north-east Saskatchewan), invited visitors to try slow looking with artworks by five local artists: Linsey Levendal, Monica Daschuk, Al Jardine, Beth Bentz and Jim Mason.

Below are several photos of the artworks, plus information on their slow looking prompts and brochure.

Linsey Levendal, Carla. 2021.
11.5 x 15.5 cm. Pencil on Paper.
Jim Mason, Jade. 2021. Mixed Media-Wood, metal, Acrylic.

Visitors were given a brochure with some information about the five artworks, and prompts to use for observation and discussion:

  • Which artist captured your attention first and why?
  • How does _____ (your choice) piece compare with your preferred style of art?
  • If you could bring one piece from today home with you, which one would it be and why?
  • What medium do you prefer – acrylic, watercolor, ink, pencil…Something else?
  • Do you like 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional pieces better?
  • When you stop and look at a piece for 5-10 minutes do you think you see things in it you otherwise might not have?
  • How much art do you have in your home? What pieces have special meaning?

Families who attended were especially encouraged to discuss how art is an important part of everyday life with their children.

Below is the brochure that the Gallery created:

Northern Lights Gallery’s Slow Art Day brochure

The event was well received, and there was a steady stream of people during the day. Two of the artists, Al Jardine and Jim Mason, also attended and engaged in discussions with participants.

To view all the art on display at the Gallery, visit their website or Facebook Page.

Sandra Dancey, owner of the Northern Lights Gallery, said that Slow Art Day was really well received, especially now during the pandemic.

“Given the current state of the world I think most people need to know they aren’t alone, and they appreciate the opportunity to look at art and talk with each other”.

Sandra Dancey

At Slow Art Day HQ, we couldn’t agree more.

We believe slow looking provides a great opportunity for people to enjoy art and each other on a deeper level — and experience that we are not alone.

We look forward to seeing what Northern Lights Gallery prepare for their second Slow Art Day in 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl


Marionettes and More at Ur Mara Museoa

For their 7th annual event, Ur Mara Museoa in Alkiza, Spain — which always creates one of the most innovative Slow Art Day extravaganzas in the world — invited local and international artists and performers to present art on the theme of nature and sustainability.

Ur Mara Museoa. Courtesy of the museum

Their 2021 Slow Art Day featured performances and presentations by:

  • Painters Idoia Iturri, Diana Vasina and Bea Gonzalez Rojo,
  • Maria Giró Coll, a Catalan artist and cultural mediator, presented a sculpture by Jose Perez Ocaña, a Spanish artist who visited Alkiza in 1983
  • Marionette artist Corrado Massaci (watch some of it in the video below)

The artists observed each other’s work, and shared opinions and reflections with the participants.

Below we provide photographs, details and videos about each of the performances, starting with the painter Idoia Iturri.

Idoia Iturri presented four art works, all created in 2021. Three of them form a trilogy named Pandemiaren Trilogia (Pandemic Trilogy). Haurtzaroa (Childhood), Maskara (Mask) and Duintasuna (Dignity). The fourth artwork is named Bizipoza (Joy of Life).

Idoia Iturri, (Pandemic Trilogy). Haurtzaroa (Childhood), Maskara (Mask) and Duintasuna (Dignity), 2021.
Participant viewing Idoia Iturri’s Duintasuna (Dignity), 2021.

Diana Vasina presented four artworks created during the pandemic year, 2020-2021:

  • Mirate Ojo (pantalla)
  • MOVIMIENTO INTERMINABLE
  • Densidad
  • BIDEAN DENEAN BIDAIA
Diana Vasina, Mirate Ojo.
Diana Vasina, MOVIMIENTO INTERMINABLE
Diana Vasina, Desidad.

Beatriz González presented three art works from her TFG (final master’s thesis):

  • ‘Abuhero’
  • ‘Ehpurriajas’
  • ‘Lombo’
Beatriz González, Lombo, 2017.

Maria Giró Coll, a Catalan artist and cultural mediator, presented a sculpture by Jose Perez Ocaña, a Spanish artist who visited Alkiza in 1983.

Jose Perez Ocaña, Luna, 1984, presented by Maria Giró Coll during the Slow Art Day event at Ur Mara Museoa.

Following the event, Ur Mara Museoa created a 50-second video showing sequences of art pieces and marionettes, as well as museum curators, artists, performers, and visitors interacting with one another (all at a safe distance and wearing face masks). We love the spirit and warmth that Ur Mara Museoa always brings to their daylong Slow Art Day festival.

Video “Ur Mara Museoa 2021 Slow Art Day” 10 april, 2021.

35 people attended the event, which was promoted both on the museum’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. They received many likes on their IG posts. Read (in Basque) a great article about the event by the local newspaper.

Again, we at Slow Art Day HQ always look forward to what Ur Mara Museoa produces, and we hope to finally visit the museum next year, when we plan a European summer tour of Slow Art Day sites.

And we can’t wait to see what Ur Mara Museoa comes up with for 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

BYU’s First Slow Art Day

On April 10, the Brigham Young University Museum of Art (BYU) in Provo, Utah, welcomed visitors to their first Slow Art Day event, which was in-person. Visitors were welcomed by a student educator at the front desk, who invited them to try the four slow looking strategies outlined in the below brochure. Participants were given suggestions for art to use for the exercise, but were free to apply the strategies to any work of art on display.

Brigham Young University Museum of Art Slow Art Day brochure.

Below we have summarized their four key instructions (to see the full details, look at the picture of the brochure above):

  1. Look BIG: casting a wide net can yield a range of observations and reveal the complexity of things. How? Explore and discover everything, everywhere in any given work of art!
  2. Narrow your focus: organizing your viewing strategy gives structure to the museum experience and helps you focus on something specific. How? Select an artwork and focus on certain types of things, such as colors, shapes, lines, faces, hands, trees, or anything that interests you.
  3. Change your perspective: this technique can lead the discovery of small details and large patterns. How? Alter your physical distance to the artwork, as well as your angle and perspective.
  4. Contrast & Compare: noticing similarities and differences (some of which may be intended by curators) can enrich your insights. How? Compare and contrast two neighboring artworks and describe your observations.

The event was advertised via an in-house digital banner, printed signage, social media coverage on Facebook and Instagram, and a feature in the on-campus digital newsletter. A total of 116 visitors participated in the activity throughout the day.

The Museum already has a Slow Looking Gallery Guide based on Shari Tishman’s 2018 book “Slow Looking”, which features Slow Art Day and inspired BYU’s event brochure (Note: we are planning a webinar with Shari Tischman for the fall of 2021).

Below are several photos from their event.

Participants engaging with art following the four slow looking strategies.

Visitors arriving at the front desk of the Museum

Philipp Malzl, Museum Educator, said that many visitors later shared their experience and insights with Museum staff. As a “thank you” gesture for sharing their feedback, the Museum gave participants a small gift (either a magnifying glass, art print, or museum pin).

Student educator at the front desk of the Museum hands a Slow Art Day participant a gift

They received a lot of great feedback (below are some highlights):

“I had no idea there was so much to see!”

Participant’s quote

“That was awesome! A whole new perspective.”

Participant’s quote

“I have [one of these paintings] hanging in my office, but I’ve never taken the time to really look at the details. I’m an art guy… this was different, and I loved it.”

Participant’s quote

“Usually we try to see everything in a museum, but today we didn’t. We really loved slowing down and paying more attention to the details.”

Participant’s quote

“We’ve been participating in this for years…we love slow art!”

Participant’s quote

At Slow Art HQ, we are excited that more than 100 participants took part in Brigham Young University Museum’s inaugural Slow Art Day. We loved their detailed four-step brochure, and their *thank-you* gifts. They did an amazing job of creating a welcoming environment.

We look forward to seeing their plans for Slow Art Day 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, and Ashley

Meditative Slow Art Day at Grounds For Sculpture

For Slow Art Day, Grounds For Sculpture (GFS) in Hamilton, New Jersey, hosted nearly 1,000 participants and provided them with meditative prompts to use while slow-viewing the sculptures.

Picture of visitors engaging with different sculptures at Grounds.

On April 10, all visitors were encouraged to do a slow looking activity using the following instructions created by Libby Vieira da Cunha, Manager of Group Visit and School Programs at Grounds For Sculpture:

1) Pick any sculpture on the grounds that interests you

2) Challenge yourself to look at the sculpture for 5 minutes – set a timer and allow yourself to slow down

3) While taking a slow look, ask yourself the following questions:

Observe

  • Take a deep breath. Walk around the sculpture and let your eyes move slowly around the artwork – from where it touches the ground all the way up to the sky.
  • What do you notice? Make three observations based on what you noticed.

Share

  • Think of a story or experience this sculpture reminds you of – anything that comes to mind.
  • Think of a friend that you want to share this sculpture with, why does this person come to mind?

Reflect

  • What do you notice about the sculpture now that you did not see at first glance? How does this change your impression of the sculpture?
  • If you’re with others share your responses with each other. Did they have similar or different thoughts on the sculpture?

Repeat

  • If you’re up for the Slow Art Day challenge, then repeat this exercise with two other sculptures
  • What new question might you pose for slow looking? Add it to your next slow look.

Slow Art Day at Grounds for Sculpture Poster

Throughout the day, facilitators also walked between different groups, inviting them to discuss the artwork ‘Dorian’ by artist Bruce Beasley (pictured below).

Bruce Beasley, Dorian (1986). Welded stainless steel, burnished surface.
240 in x 360 in x 120 in. Courtesy of Grounds for Sculpture

Ahead of the event, it was advertised on Facebook and Instagram, receiving more than 600 likes from the public. The in-person activity was very well received, and experienced by a total of 952 visitors from across the country – from Arizona, California, Minnesota, and many states along the east coast.

Participants shared that they found the experience fun, stimulating, reflective, special, interesting, insightful, and meditative:

“The fact that you can see it (the artwork) from so many different perspectives makes it more beautiful.”

Slow Art Day Participant

“I felt a closer bond to my friend doing it as we expressed our experiences”

Slow Art Day Participant’s quote

“Allows for seeing hidden beauty”

Participant’s quote

“I was able to reflect and learn something new”

Slow Art Day Participant’s quote

At Slow Art Day HQ, we were excited to see Grounds for Sculpture bring out nearly 1,000 people for their first annual event. We also appreciated GFS’ enthusiasm, creativity and attention to detail. And their poster (pictured above) is terrific.

We can’t wait to see what they come up with for their second Slow Art Day in 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, and Ashley

A “Light Bulb” Moment at McMaster Museum of Art

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.

John Hartman, O’Donnel Point, 1993, Oil on linen. Gift of the artist © John Hartman

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.” 

Participant feedback

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 Facebook and 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.

-Johanna, Jessica, Ashley

Two Resurrections: Slow Art Day at Sint-Pauluskerk

Sint-Pauluskerk in Antwerp, Belgium, hosted its fourth Slow Art Day event with a focus on the theme of “Resurrection”.

The event featured a comparison between the “Resurrection of Christ” by Aenout Vickenborgh, and Peter Paul Rubens’s painting with the same title, both of which are on display in the church.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Resurrection of Christ, 1611-1612.
Oil on panel, 138 x 98 cm.
Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp.
Aernout Vinckenborgh, Resurrection of Christ, 1615-1620.
Oil on panel, 223 x 166 cm.
Courtesy of Saint Paul’s church, Antwerp.

On April 10, church visitors were invited to participate in a guided 45-minute session to view the paintings. The session featured slow looking, which was followed by discussion and detailed comparisons of the paintings by the guides. Due to continued pandemic restrictions, sessions were capped at 10 visitors per group, with only 15 people allowed in the church at the same time.

The church also created a short documentary for those who could not come in person. This was shared via email to their 1,500 subscribers. The documentary was also shared to the church’s Facebook page.

Below is a link to the video, but keep in mind that it is available only in Dutch.

Armand Storck, scriptor for Sint-Pauluskerk, hopes that their planned video production for Slow Art Day 2022 will include English subtitles to reach an international audience.

“Der Verrijzenis” (in English “The Resurrections”) created by Sint-Pauluskerk, 2021.

The in-person event was attended by 45 people in total, and the documentary video has been viewed by 2,500 people via Facebook and YouTube combined. Viewers of the video responded positively.

“Nicely presented, informative, pleasant. Thanks to the volunteers and to Armand for the introduction.”

“Incredibly beautiful, congratulations to the whole team!”

Participant responses to the “Der Verrijizenis” video on Facebook (translated from Dutch).

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that Sint-Pauluskerk opens its doors for Slow Art Day with a theme that fits the church calendar. The alignment of slow looking exercises with the reflective period of lent works beautifully. We hope that more churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious organizations are inspired by their approach.

We look forward to another event from Sint-pauluskerk in 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, and Ashley

5-in-1 at Albany Institute’s First Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day, the Albany Institute of History and Art in Albany, NY, hosted five interconnected virtual events:

  • Social media slow looking activity
  • Word clouds from the virtual activity
  • Slow panning video
  • Wellness workshop
  • A “look & learn” for families

On April 10, the museum started their Slow Art Day by sharing three artworks to Instagram.

Viewers were asked to respond with one-word descriptions of the images, which the museum turned into word clouds to illustrate the feelings evoked. “Breezy”, “depth” and “freedom” were frequent responses.

The museum also produced a slow looking video that features the sculpture “The Fist” by Alice Morgan Wright. Viewers were encouraged to find a quiet space, silence their technology, take a few deep breaths, and observe the sculpture for one minute in silence. The video slowly circles the sculpture, allowing viewers to see it from every angle. At the end of the minute, the video moderator guides participants through thought provoking questions about the sculpture. View the video below and try this slow-looking activity for yourself.

Slow looking video of Alice Morgan Wright, ‘The Fist’, 1921. Video produced by The Albany Insitute of History and Art.

For the Zoom-based wellness workshop ‘Making Meaning: Meditating on Artwork as Wellness’, participants were guided through an hour of exploring, viewing, and discussing works of art with licensed art therapist Chloe Hayward. They were also invited to share an object from their personal space as a vehicle for connecting to the artworks. The session ended with a guided meditation.

People responded positively to the digital events hosted by the Albany Institute, with one participant calling them “invaluable at this time”. Victoria Waldron, Education Assistant at the Albany Institute, said the Albany Institute’s first Slow Art Day program was a success, with 60+ combined participant and social media interactions.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that the Albany Institute of History and Art chose to host five connected events for their first Slow Art Day, and are already excited to see what they plan for Slow Art Day 2022.

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley