For their second Slow Art Day, Glen Foerd in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, selected the following four works from their collection for participants to enjoy in-person over the course of 2 hours.
Participants were provided with a flyer that included images of the pieces, and the following prompts:
- Look not only at what is pictured, but how it is pictured.
- What kind of colors has the artist used? Are they bright, muted, or somewhere in between?
- Can you see how the color has been applied or is the color smooth and blended?
- Is there a sense of deep, moderate, shallow, or indeterminate space? Is that space consistent throughout the picture?
- Is space clear and well defined or atmospheric? What about how the picture was painted gives it that quality?
- Is there the suggestion of a directional light source, of light coming from a one side or the other?
- Can you see lines anywhere, whether painted lines or strong edges created by color-to-color areas? Where are lines used and how?
- What other observations can you make?
- How is the installation piece different from the paintings?
- What is the unifying theme of the installation?
Afterwards, Director Ross Mitchell invited participants to the art gallery where he led a discussion on the aesthetic qualities of the pieces. The event was promoted on Glen Foerd’s website and their Instagram page a month in advance.
An Impromptu Slow Looking Session
As we at Slow Art Day HQ started to write this report, we also decided to take few moments to look slowly at all of the works and have our own discussion about them – and we encourage you all to do the same.
Before reading further, scroll back up and look… slowly. Then come back here to read a little about our thoughts.
We were immediately drawn to this work and to its great sense of movement. We debated whether we thought the two winged figures (angels, birds?) were drawn to the light or coming from the light. And we all enjoyed one of the rewards of slow looking at this painting – the eventual realization that there is a third figure. Overall, slowing down with this painting left us with a feeling of hope.
We debated the flatness of this painting, and whether it’s a painting of a painting. We also were drawn to, and discussed, the richness of the table – the wood is like droplets of water falling into a stream. One of us pointed out that the closely-cropped borders give a sense of tightness. And, in a lighter moment, we all agreed that we wanted to move the lit candlesticks away from the flowers. Ultimately, this work brought us feelings of autumn and a sense of sadness.
This several hundred year old painting brought up the most debate. Some of us do not like portraits of the elite, but the power of slowing down is that everyone gets to go beyond the superficial binary of “like / don’t like” – and discovers a new relationship to the artwork. As we looked and then talked, we noticed and discussed a number of things. Several of us were drawn to her facial expression. Is she smirking? We noticed her white dress, shoes, translucent sleeves, and colorful shawl (is that an LGBTQ flag?) and parasol – and also noticed how her ring is displayed prominently. Is the artist making a proto modern-day statement about gender, sexual orientation, marriage? Unlikely. We don’t know, but we are free to see what we see.
We were all immediately drawn to this piece, yet it took us to very different places. For some, this felt like a city at night, with the reflections in the table like lights in a river. For others, this was a library of mid-century modern shelves – the doors opening to reveal mirrors asking us to look deeply within ourselves. For yet others, each of these tiles represented the infinity of possibilities, including the unlimited number of genders.
We at Slow Art Day HQ are happy to see Glen Foerd’s participation for a second year, and look forward to whatever they come up with for Slow Art Day 2023.
Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl
P.S. – The Slow Art Day HQ team is getting together this summer in the United States and we are planning to visit Glen Foerd in addition to other NY and Philadelphia museums.