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

Female Photographers at the IAACC Pablo Serrano

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.
Grete Stern (Wuppertal, Germany, 1904 – Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1999), Sueño 39, 1949. Photomontage.
Cristina Martín Lara (Málaga, 1972), “Si yo supiera a qué se debe…/ Wenn ich nur wüsste woran das liegt…(1) II”, 2004. Polyptych, photography on aluminum.
Mapi Rivera (Huesca, 1976), “Estelación crepuscular”, 2004. Analog Photography and Chemical Printing.
Liang Yuanwei (Xi’an, China, 1977), “S/T, Series: Don’t forget to say you love me”, 2005. Photograph on paper.

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!

– Johanna and Ashley



Slow Looking and the 19th Amendment in Asheville

The Asheville Art Museum hosted its third Slow Art Day with a virtual slow looking webinar focused on three works by women artists in honor of the 19th Amendment’s 100th anniversary:

  • Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled (Playing Cards/Malcolm X) from the Kitchen Table II series, 1990.
  • Minnie Evans, Untitled, 2012.
  • Harriet Randall Lumis, The Little Red Bush, circa 1915.
Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled (Playing Cards/Malcolm X) from the Kitchen Table II series, 1990, printed 1999, gelatin silver print, edition 2/5, 26 ¾ × 26 ⅞ inches. Museum purchase with funds provided by 2004 Collectors’ Circle, 2004.24.04.91. © Carrie Mae Weems, courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery.
Minnie Evans, Untitled, not dated, colored pencil on brown paper, 11 ¾ × 9 inches. Gift of Randy Siegel, 2012.08.42.
Harriet Randall Lumis, The Little Red Bush, circa 1915, oil on canvas, 24 × 28 inches. Given in honor of Dorothy Hamill on her birthday, October 12, 2000, 2000.14.21.

Master docent Doris Potash instructed participants to do three things before the webinar: 1) find a quiet, still space; 2) look at each of the three images for 15 minutes; 3) while looking, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s going on in each artwork? What details do you notice?
  • If you were in those places, what sounds would you hear? What textures and temperatures would you feel?
  • What memories and emotions do these artworks evoke?
  • Each of these artworks was created by a woman. Is there anything about the works that you would associate with a uniquely female perspective?

Doris then moderated a live discussion about the experience.

The two-part session was attended by 23 participants, who gave very positive feedback about the event:

“A lovely way to spend an hour of my social distancing!”

“…a much needed break during these trying times.”

“I was very moved by the art selections and benefitted from this experience greatly.”

Participant Quotes

The Slow Art Day event was well-received on social media, with over 100 likes on Facebook and Instagram. It sparked so much interest overall that the Museum has since added weekly Slow Art Friday sessions to its regular calendar of events! A recording of the original Slow Art Day session can be found here, and the weekly program description and upcoming fall programs can be found here.

Our mission at Slow Art Day is to inspire museums and participants to embrace slow looking every day. Thus, we are excited that this North Carolina-based museum not only produced a great Slow Art Day but now has made slow looking a weekly activity.

-Johanna and Ashley

TarraWarra Museum of Art Hosts First Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day The TarraWarra Museum of Art in Melbourne, Australia featured two very different artworks by Australian women artists: ‘Club Colours’ by Rosalie Gascoigne, and ‘He’ll Be My Mirror’ by Jenny Watson.

Rosalie Gascoigne, ‘Club Colours’ 1983, painted and stencilled wood from soft-drink boxes on plywood backing, 172.5 x 129.5 cm, TarraWarra Museum of Art collection. Gift of Eva Besen AO and Marc Besen AO, Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2009, © Rosalie Gascoigne Estate.
Jenny Watson, ‘He’ll Be My Mirror’ 2013, Liquitex acrylic, Holbein pigments and haberdashery on rabbit skin glue-primed Belgian linen, 251.7 x 140 cm, TarraWarra Museum of Art collection, Acquired 2013.

To promote the event, Elisabeth Alexander, Marketing and Events Coordinator, created a short teaser ‘slow zoom’ video of ‘He’ll Be My Mirror’, and posted image stories on Instagram and Facebook.

On April 4, participants were directed to a dedicated Slow Art Day page on the Museum’s website to look slowly at full-size images of the two paintings. Shannon Lyons, Education Coordinator, then led an online discussion via the Museum’s social media channels, where participants were encouraged to share thoughts about the artworks and their slow looking experience.

Shannon Lyons shared with us her surprise at how well it went:

From an educator’s perspective, it was interesting to see how willing people were to both delve deeper and give voice to their wonderings online. They actively questioned why aspects of the artworks appeared the way that they did, and why particular elements of the artworks seemed to dominate, hold or demand attention far more than others.

Shannon Lyons

Their first Slow Art Day was a success, with over 5000 impressions and 100+ post engagements across Instagram and Facebook. Further, the average time spent on their dedicated webpage was 6 minutes – dramatically higher than the average time of under a minute for other pages on the site.

The TarraWarra Museum of Art had originally planned to host their first Slow Art Day in-person featuring their newly opened exhibition ‘Making Her Mark: Selected Works from the Collection‘, however Lyons and Alexander had to quickly re-imagine it as a virtual experience due to Covid19.

The whole Slow Art Day team has been impressed with what Elisabeth and Shannon were able to produce – given that it was not only their first Slow Art Day but, of course, also since the pandemic forced a last minute change of plans. We look forward to what they create for Slow Art Day 2021.

-Johanna

NMWA Turns Slow Art Day into a Week of Activities

For its 7th Slow Art Day celebration, The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C. turned the day into a whole week of events, featuring 10 women, half of whom are artists of color: Andrea Higgins, Graciela Iturbide, Frida Kahlo, Susan Katz, Yayoi Kusama, Amy Lamb, Delita Martin, Alison Saar, Amy Sherald, and Mickalene Thomas.

Participants in their Slow Art “Week” were invited via the museum website and social media platforms to select and spend 10 minutes with five portraits from among the works of the 10 artists. They were then asked to join a Zoom discussion to reflect on their slow looking experience. A detailed image of Frida Kahlo’s ‘Self-portrait dedicated to Leon Trotsky’ (1937) was also made accessible on the Google Arts & Culture platform and shared as a Facebook post.

The Slow Art Day events were part of the ongoing initiative NMWA at Home, which features an amazing range of art resources from online exhibitions to Spotify playlists which can be accessed here. A PDF with instructions for the Slow Art Day specific events is available here. You can also explore more of the NMWA collection here.

One of the featured artists for their Slow Art Week was Amy Sherald, who works to reclaim portraiture and turn it into a celebration of African American individuality. Strongly inspired by Frida Kahlo’s themes and her use of color, Sherald’s art is a critique of historical black representation in both portraiture and photography and seeks to promote black selfhood.

Amy Sherald, ‘It Made Sense…Mostly In Her Mind,’ Oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches, 2011; Promised Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in honor of the artist and the 25th Anniversary of the National Museum of Women in the Arts; Photo courtesy of the artist.

Amy Sherald has also spoken a lot about her work. We’ve included quotes below and encourage you to watch the short YouTube video ‘Amy Sherald: In the Studio.’

“My work is about taking blackness past the stereotypes and opening it up to the imagination.”

Amy Sherald, quote from the NMWA Blog.

“These people have let go of that idea of being watched. They’re there to meet your gaze in a different way. And it’s a critique on historical black representation, whether it be in photography or painting.”

Amy Sherald, quote from Hauser & Wirth’s ‘Amy Sherald: In the Studio’ (YouTube).

The whole Slow Art Day HQ team loves Amy Sherald’s work and we are excited to see such focus on the reframing of conventional art history.

Participants also loved the NMWA’s Slow Art Week. One said it was one of the most “well-planned online (or offline) events they had experienced.” And unlike the previous years when the events were in the museum, this year people from all over the world – from California to the United Kingdom – were able to participate in their great program.

“This has been a super experience in so many ways: the quality of the seeing/interpretation; the generosity of listening/talking; and the sheer excitement of talking to a group of women I do not know in another country in another time zone, in this moment.”

U.K. Participant

We loved participating in the NMWA’s program and learning so much more about the 10 featured women artists. The Slow Art Day team looks forward to seeing more Slow Art Week (or maybe month?) events at the NMWA in 2021.

– Johanna, Phil and Ashley

P.S. We also have watched with admiration as the NMWA has recently started handing out water and snacks from their museum entrance as one way to support the international protests against racism and police violence.

Slow Looking with Bisa Butler’s Stunning Portraits

For the second Slow Art Day hosted by the Katonah Museum of Art (KMA), the museum focused on its Bisa Butler: Portraits exhibit. Renowned for her use of fabric and traditional quilting techniques, Butler reimagines historical black figures and culture in her art, often taking classic photos and turning them into vibrant, multi-colored textiles.

On April 4, 2020, detailed images from one of Butler’s amazing quilts titled ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ were shared to Facebook and Instagram.

Bisa Butler, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ 2019, Cotton, wool and chiffon, quilted and appliquéd, 50 x 129 in. (127 x 327.6 cm). Private collection, promised gift on long-term loan to Minneapolis Institute of Art.

We show the full image first (above), but the museum did not include it in their initial posts. Instead, they posted four close-up images (below), captioned with short prompts to encourage deep reflection. Participants were then invited to an in-depth Zoom discussion, led by Marijane, a KMA docent, to explore the whole exhibit and slowly look at some of Butler’s amazing work.

Detail 1: Bisa Butler, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ 2019.
Detail 2: Bisa Butler, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ 2019.
Detail 3: Bisa Butler, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ 2019.
Detail 4: Bisa Butler, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ 2019.

Butler’s stunning textiles are often based on important black and white photographs – the one above of four women sitting on the steps of Atlanta College in 1900.

This particular work engages with complex ideasranging from change, power and freedom, to historical symbols of wealth culturethrough Butler’s carefully curated patterns and colors. Of course, the title of this work borrows from the title of Nobel-Prize winning poet and writer Maya Angelou’s debut memoir in 1969.

The event was very well received across social media and Zoom. Many participants followed up the event with positive feedback such as:

Thanks for the incredible up close views!

Such a wonderful tour.  Thanks so much for making my day.

This was AMAZING!!  Thank you so much for hosting slow art day and for hosting it virtually!!!!

PARTICIPANT QUOTES

At Slow Art Day HQ, we also love Butler’s art and her powerful textiles. These are amazing to slowly look at online and we can only imagine what they are like to see hanging on the museum’s walls. The museum is currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but when the KMA re-opens, we recommend you go if you are near northern Westchester County, New York.

Finally, we note that over 80% of artists from collections across 18 major U.S. museums are still both male and white according to a 2019 survey by PLoS ONE; we are grateful that the KMA is helping to change that.

– Johanna and Ashley