Slow Art for a Rainy Day with the Georgia Museum of Art

For their sixth Slow Art Day, the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, GA, hosted an in-person slow looking and drawing session.

The session was originally planned as an outdoor sculpture viewing, but the rain had other plans and the event was hosted inside the museum. The program was created by Sage Kincaid, Associate Curator of Education, who has a strong passion for all things Slow Art.

On April 10, participants were invited to look slowly at three works of art at the museum:

  • Steinunn Thorarinsdottir’s sculpture ‘Tide’ (2012)
  • Nick Cave’s sculpture “Soundsuit” (2017)
  • Joan Mitchell’s painting “Close” (1972)

New Installment Added to Jane and Harry Willson Sculpture Garden | Georgia  Museum of Art at the University of Georgia - Georgia Museum of Art at the  University of Georgia
Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, ‘Tide’, 2012. Cast iron and glass. 70 7/8 × 27 9/16 × 13 3/4 in. (180 × 70 × 35 cm)
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Museum purchase with funds provided by Judith Ellis
Participants doing line-drawings of Nick Cave’s Soundsuit Sculpture for Slow Art Day 2021. Photo courtsey of the Georgia Museum of Art.
two men looking at Joan Mitchell's large abstract painting "Close"
Visitors in front of Joan Mitchell’s painting “Close” (1972) during a previous Slow Art Day event. Photo courtesy of the Georgia Museum of Art.

After looking at the art pieces, Katie Landers, an Education Department Intern at the museum, led separate slow looking and drawing activities.

Participants were first encouraged to think about their physical relationship to the sculpture by Steinunn Thorarinsdottir. Next, they investigated color and color palettes by looking at Joan Mitchell’s painting. Finally, they made a blind contour and continuous line drawing of Nick Cave’s sculpture. To end the day, all participants made abstract color collages together. The event was well received by a dedicated group of 10, who spent several hours together for an immersive experience on Slow Art Day.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the integrated multi-sensory approach that the Georgia Museum of Art took to designing this year’s event. While looking at something closely lets us see in new ways, slow drawing takes that process even further and allows attendees to connect looking, talking and making. And that creates the possibility to be present — with art, with ourselves, and with others.

We look forwad to what the Georgia Museum of Art comes up with for their 7th 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.

Art and Wellness: Zoom Webinar with the Frost Art Museum

For their 8th Slow Art Day, The Patricia & Philip Frost Art Museum in Miami, FL, hosted a live webinar conversation focused on art and wellness with artist Carol Brown Goldberg, facilitated by Miriam Machado, Curator of Education at the Frost Art Museum (click on the image below to watch the webinar).

Slow Art Day Webinar: ‘A conversation with artist Carol Brown Goldberg on her series Tangled Nature and her exhibition at the Frost’. Screenshot: Johanna

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).

Carol Brown Goldberg, Extravagant Eden 8 (2015), Pen and Ink on Paper, 11 x 18 inches.
Carol Brown Goldberg, Maggie on My Mind (2015), Acrylic on Canvas, 79 x 58 inches

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.

– Johanna

Drawing Encourages Slow Looking at The Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, one of the Smithsonian Institution’s 19 museums in Washington, DC, participated in its second annual Slow Art Day by merging two of their existing programs that encourage slow looking: How to Look at Art and Hirshhorn/DRAW.

The museum’s Slow Art Day event led 150 participants through four simultaneous 30-60 minute sessions paired with a single artwork. Participants were given tips on how to slowly enjoy artwork without having any background information on the work. They were also provided with seats and drawing materials, and were invited to slow down and enjoy the works through drawing.

Participants drawing one of the selected works at the Hirshhorn’s Slow Art Day event.

A Smithsonian Fulbright Fellow participant stated:

“I am extremely grateful for the family-friendly drawing programs – my kids benefited more than I did! My 10 year-old spent 45 minutes drawing (she forgot that she said she was hungry) and was very proud of herself.”

We love to hear how Slow Art Day events foster joy and creativity, and can’t wait to see what The Hirshhorn has in store for Slow Art Day 2020.

– Ashley

Successful First Slow Art Day for The Treasure Coast

The Treasure Coast Art Association in Fort Pierce, FL hosted their first Slow Art Day this year for the Fort Pierce Art Club members in the home of member Jeanne Johansen.

The morning started with the participants sketching an internationally trained nude model, and was followed by an afternoon exploring art club members’ paintings through various interactive techniques.

Jeanne reported that one of the most fun techniques was to have everyone sit with their backs to the paintings and attempt to draw them as participant Barry Levine described them out loud.

New member, Carol Merrett, engaged the group by asking them to guess what her paintings were before she unveiled her acrylic textured paintings.

Scott Serafica, an art teacher from Texas, brought a beautiful oil still life to be observed. The group paired the artwork with a cup of fragrant tea to complement the teapot in the painting, which engaged the groups sense of smell as they slowly observed it.

The Treasure Coast Art Association is planning their next Slow Art Day event with the Backus Museum in April 2020, and we look forward to hearing what they have in store for their second event.

– Ashley

Yoga & Meditative Creation for Slow Art Day at Wanås Konst in Sweden

For Slow Art Day 2019, Wanås Konst – Center for Art and Learning based in southern Sweden organized a full day focused on three main activities: yoga, slow art exploration, and meditative action painting.

The day started with the yoga session led by yoga instructor Risa Larsen, who focused on gaining new energy and a relaxed body and mind.

Then throughout the day, visitors were encouraged to choose five artworks in the sculpture park, taking the time to observe each slowly. 

Finally, in the afternoon, visitors were invited to the “Meditative Action Painting” workshop inspired by the Danish artist Jeppe Hein. Participants filled Tibetan singing bowls with colored water and used a ringer to slowly move around the edge of the bowl to create vibrations. These vibrations then created a work of art by sprinkling colored droplets onto a canvas underneath the bowl.

Meditative Action Painting Workshop
Photo credit: Elin Magnusson

Elin Magnusson, Head of Education at Wanås Konst, reported that many of the visitors stayed for the entire program.

We look forward to seeing what this site-specific, international contemporary art-focused organization has in store for their 2020 Slow Art Day.

– Ashley

Philadelphia Museum of Art Combines Poetry, Music, and Visual Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art creatively integrated music and poetry with their 2019 Slow Art Day in celebration of National Poetry Month. 

“Since poems slow us down to consider individual words, phrases, and the structure of language, we thought this would be a great way to encourage slow looking,” said Greg Stuart, Museum Educator and Public Programs Coordinator.

Slow Art Day participants were asked to focus on a single work of art for 45 minutes while experiencing an in-gallery music performance. They were then also encouraged to participate in poetry writing workshops and a bookmaking program.

Candy Alexandra Gonzalez, a local poet and visual artist, encouraged participants to create a collaborative book by writing and drawing about things in their lives that they wished moved at a slower pace.

Collaborative book created by Slow Art Day participants.

One visitor said: 

“This was great for me and my eight year old daughter. It helped us look at the art more closely and talk about it together. Thank you!”

We couldn’t be happier to hear of such a successful multimedia, multi-sensory Slow Art Day, and look forward to what the Philadelphia Art Museum creates for Slow Art Day 2020.

Ashley

Frye Art Museum Combines Looking and Drawing

The Frye Art Museum in Seattle, WA combined looking, drawing, and shared discussion for their Slow Art Day 2019.

The museum chose a single artwork in their current exhibition Tschabalala Self as a focus.

Each person then participated in three connected activities:

  • a close-looking session
  • a detailed artwork discussion rooted in Visual Thinking Strategies
  • a drawing activity and discussion with a partner (to see the drawing activity they used, watch this video here…the drawing assignment begins at about minute 3)

During the drawing portion, one participant noted it was “meaningful to exchange our drawing with a partner, interpret each other’s, then explain our own.” The museum also provided a self-guided form for visitors to lead their own slow looking art exploration.

Caroline Byrd who works in the Education Department at the museum says, “Slow Art Day is an accessible, inventive, and community-oriented opportunity that we continue to look forward to each year.” We couldn’t have said it better and appreciate the creativity they brought to the design of their day.

Phil

Oceanside – Multi-Sensory Slow Art Day

The Oceanside Museum of Art in California reports that they had a “wonderful” multi-sensory Slow Art Day 2019.

The museum developed three self-guided stations aimed at slowly engaging multiple senses – designing multi-sensory experiences is a growing trend in the slow art movement (see the webinar we hosted in January 2019).

Slow looking and pairing music with painting

The three self-guided stations they created were:

  1. Partner blind-drawing station in their watercolor exhibition
  2. Storytelling station based around Matthew Barnes: Painter of the Night exhibition
  3. Pairing music with paintings in their surrealism exhibition (photo to the left).

They ran Slow Art Day through the weekend and had many more people participate as a result. In fact, Slow Art Day and the self-guided stations were so successful – led to so much visitor participation – that the curatorial staff has asked that stations remain up longer.

The variety of activities – and the multi-sensory element – really allowed visitors to participate in ways that worked for them and that also added a sense of fun.

Andrea Hart, Director of Education and Public Programs at the Oceanside Museum of Art

Phil

P.S. I’m particularly pleased with this report given that my mother lived in Oceanside for years and ran a clandestine Slow Art Day at this museum with a few friends when we launched a decade ago.