Ready, Set, Slow… Art Weekend with the McLean

For their first Slow Art Day – Slow Art Weekend, actually – the McLean County Museum of History, along with eight other downtown Bloomington, Illinois partners, held a Ready, Set, SLOW! event.

Hosted by Hannah Johnson, Education Program Coordinator at McLean, this Slow Art Day, organized with nine participating locations, was a true citywide event.

Including the McLean County Museum of History, the other participants were: Angel Ambrose Fine Art Studio, Art Vortex Studio & Gallery, Eaton Studio Gallery, Inside-Out Accessible Art, Joann Goetzinger Studio Gallery, Main Gallery 404, The Hangar Art Co., and Threshold to Hope, Inc.

Photo credit: Hannah Johnson

Inspired by the Downtown’s First Friday theme, visitors were invited to engage in an evening of egg hunting and art viewing at the Museum. Two posters were created for the event, including prompts for the attendees to consider, and small cards for each image were handed out. Literal and figurative Easter eggs were hidden in reproduction art works from the Museum’s collection for a Slow Art and egg hunt inspired seek-and-find.

We love the playful nature of their event design.

Below you can find examples of the various poster formats they used. Educators and curators around the world should feel free to copy elements of what they have done with their event (and posters).

Photo credit: Hannah Johnson

Original works from the Museum’s collection complete with Slow Art appropriate prompts were on display the entire weekend, along with an annual installation of the Clothesline Project in partnership with YWCA McLean County Stepping Stones.

Emily Aminta Howard, Painting of Grapes and Apples, Oil on Canvas, c. 1890/1900
Rupert Kilgore, Abstract Portrait, Oil on Canvas, c. 1955/65
Takashi Ode, Mountain Scene, Watercolor, c. 1980/90

T-shirts decorated by local sexual assault survivors were also displayed as testimony to their survival and the chronic problem of violence against women in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The McLean County Museum of History traces its roots back to 1892, and is a nationally-accredited award-winning museum with five permanent exhibit galleries and two rotating galleries.

Photo credit: Hannah Johnson

We look forward to what innovative approach McLean County Museum of History comes up with for next year’s Slow Art Day.

Best,

– Robin, Ashley, Phyl, Johanna, and Jessica Jane

P.S. Find out more about the McLean County Museum of History on one of its social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, History Pin, or Flickr

GAMA Presents Seven Works, Five Artists, and Food

The Gregory Allicar Museum of Art (GAMA), located at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, held their first Slow Art Day this year, which was hosted by GAMA Administrative Staff Members Madeleine Boyson, Theresa McLaren, and Lynn Boland. They chose seven works by five artists exemplifying a range of styles and media.

Kara Walker, Boo Hoo, 2000, linoleum cut on paper, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, Colorado State University, gift of Polly & Mark Addison, 2009.2.21. [A black and white silhouette linoleum cut by Kara Walker titled “Boo Hoo,” illustrating a crying woman holding a snake in her left hand and a whip in her right].
Anna Bogatin Ott, Juliet, 2017, acrylic on canvas, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, Colorado State University, gift of the artist in memory of Gregory Belim, 2018.15. [A square, pink painting by Anna Bogatin Ott with small hatch marks against a white wall, underneath a sign that reads “Scott Family Lobby.”]
After Claude Lorrain, Le Sacrifice au Temple d’Apollon dans I’lle de Delos (View of Delphi with a Procession), ca. 1648-1650, oil on canvas, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, Colorado State University, gift of Larry Hartford & Torleif Tandstad, 2016.1.16. [A view of a large, gold-framed painting against a green wall, featuring a large tree in the center, many small figures in the foreground, and a temple in the background.]
Unidentified Tibetan Artist, Vestment Cabinet, ca. 1840 (Qing Dynasty), paint on pine, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, Colorado State University, gift of Larry Hartford & Torleif Tandstad, 2016.1.126. [An ornate, multicolored vestment cabinet by an unidentified Tibetan artist from the 19th century, traditionally used to store liturgical garments and articles associated primarily with the Christian religion.]
Enrique Chagoya, Linda maestra!, Ni mas ni menos, and Se repulen from The Return to Goya’s Caprichos, 1999, etching and aquatint on paper, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, Colorado State University, gift of Polly & Mark Addison, 2005.144.8, 2005.144.3 and 2005.144.7 [A view of three framed works from Enrique Chagoya’s series “A Return to Goya’s Caprichos” against a red wall.]

Museum staff approached visitors with a short handout (see below) detailing instructions on how to find the works, prompts for slow looking, and an invitation to discuss amongst themselves, with a staff member, or in larger, more “formal” discussions at 11:30am & 3pm.

Note: Educators or curators might want to copy this simple flyer for their own slow looking events.

After participants finished their slow looking sessions, the museum provided bottled water and light refreshments in the lobby (nice touch!).

We look forward to seeing what they come up with for next year.

– Robin, Ashley, Phyl, Johanna, and Jessica Jane

P.S. The Gregory Allicar Museum of Art can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and Vimeo.

The Frederiksberg Museums Host Slow Looking and Slow Conversation

For their first Slow Art Day, the Frederiksberg Museums, hosted both in-person facilitated slow looking and online sessions (read more about their event in Danish).

The Frederiksberg Museums, located in Denmark near Copenhagen, are a group of four museums: Bakkehuset, Storm, Møstings and Cisternerne, all within walking distance of each other – and all participated in Slow Art Day.

Bakkehuset featured their Den Nye Hjørnestue or The New Corner Room. This exhibit re-interpreted the salon culture that unfolded at Bakkehuset two hundred years ago.

Here at Slow Art Day HQ we wish we could have participated in this interesting exhibit.

The way it worked was eight people sat down around a table that had a wooden ball that rolled on a track, eventually stopping in front of a letter. The letter corresponded to cabinets and texts around the room that then formed the framework for a slow conversation. Once the conversation finished, they rolled the ball again spurring yet another slow dialogue. Very cool way of choosing a piece of art (or artifacts).

The New Corner Room at Bakkehuset showing the table with rolling ball, cabinets, and texts.

At the nearby Storm museum, Slow Art Day participants were invited to participate in the study of Danish humor and satire through the work of Robert Storm Peterson, also known as Storm P.

Storm P. at his desk, Storm Museum

In addition to these two in-person events, five guided Slow Looking videos were featured on the Frederiksberg Museums’ YouTube channel.

You can view them (in Danish) below:

The Frederiksberg Museums host slow looking events twice a week in one of their four venues throughout the year.

They also have some really interesting things planned:

  • Podcast
    They are launching a podcast later this year that will focus on mindful Slow Looking.
  • Mental Health
    They also plan to integrate Slow Looking into their art and health programs for the mentally vulnerable.

We are glad that the Frederiksberg Museums have brought their collective expertise and creativity to the slow art movement and look forward to their podcast, mental health programs, and design of their 2023 Slow Art Day.

– Robin, Ashley, Johanna, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

P.S. Follow the Frederiksberg Museums on Instagram and Facebook.

Holding Hands with St. Vincent de Paul in Melbourne, Australia

For their first Slow Art Day, Monique Silk and her colleagues at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, created a series of Slow Art Cards in sets of five so both patients and visitors could participate. The cards utilized three different art works from their art collection and a photo from their archives. On the back of the card, they included a series of instructions on ways to look at the art works slowly.

The prompts they used are:

  1. Look: Give yourself a few minutes to look all over the art work. Let your eyes wander to all corners of the image, top to bottom and left to right.
  2. Observe: Notice the colors, shapes, objects, textures and markings on the surface of the art work. Where do your eyes focus?
  3. Feel: What words come to mind about this art work? How do you feel looking at this art work? Does it remind you of anything?
  4. Share: Share your experience of looking at the artwork with someone and post an image of the work online with a word of reflection and hashtag #slowartday2022
Ben Quilty, Torana on Flinders, 2002, oil on canvas, photo courtesy of Monique Silk
St. Vincent’s Hospital Diet Kitchen c. 1952, Clinical Photography Department Collection, SVHM Archives, photo courtesy of Monique Silk
Sarah Metzner, Country Whispers to Us in Many Languages, 2021, oil paint and pastel on paper, photo courtesy of Monique Silk
Penny Long, Pathway, 2011, oil on canvas, photo courtesy of Monique Silk

Cards were distributed to various hospital departments to share with patients and visitors on Slow Art Day. The response from the staff to the cards was very positive.

Monique also a slow art activity in the hospital courtyard. This activity invited people to sit and slowly look at their statue of St Vincent de Paul. They even invited people to come and hold his hands and interact with the sculpture directly. While people were a bit shy when sitting with the sculpture, the hosts gave people space to interact without feeling as though they were being directly observed.

St. Vincent de Paul, by Australian sculptor Peter Corlett, photo courtesy of Monique Silk

One patient was wheeled out to the courtyard to be with the sculpture of St. Vincent and her caregiver said “this was the highlight of her day”. Another staff member said they had never noticed the sculpture before and thanked the hosts for giving them the opportunity to “feel” the presence of St. Vincent.

The pastoral care staff decided that the cards can be used on an ongoing basis and one chaplain said that:

“It’s a joy to offer the beautiful slow art cards to patients. There has been gratitude expressed from those who received your wonderful gifts. Such a great initiative!”

After the events, the hosts realized that they should have included a First Nations art work, which they plan to do for Slow Art Day 2023.

We at Slow Art Day are so happy that St. Vincent’s in Melbourne decided to celebrate Slow Art Day 2022 with patients and visitors. Perhaps, this is the beginning of a trend of many more hospitals around the world joining the slow looking movement, and bringing the power of learning to look at and love art to patients, visitors, and staff. This is a true Mitzvah.

– Robin, Ashley, Johanna, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

Looking Slowly in London at The Wallace Collection

On Saturday April 2, 2022, The Wallace Collection in London hosted “Looking Slowly: Slow Art Day 2022” online. Organized by Miranda K. Gleaves and hosted by Oliver Jones and History of Art lecturer Jo Rhymer, the 136 attendees were guided through an hour of slow looking focused on a single painting, An Allegory of Fruitfulness, by Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678).

An Allegory of Fruitfulness, 1620-9, Jacob Jordaens, © The Wallace Collection.

The event was very well received with participants saying things like –

“Thank you. I can not even imagine from now on, rushing through paintings. This is such a nice experience”.

Later in the month of April, they hosted “Slow Art”, a two-day online event where they helped participants develop skills in visual analysis and active looking. We’ve asked them for more details on their curriculum, or anything we can share with the global Slow Art Day community.

Further, we are happy to say that The Wallace Collection is one of a growing number of institutions that also hosts slow looking sessions throughout the year as a part of their public programming schedule.

You can find The Wallace Collection on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. We can’t wait to see what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2023.

Ashley, Phyl, Jessica Jane, Johanna, and Robin

Lead Creative Festival & First Slow Art Week at Universidad Panamericana

The Universidad Panamericana, Guadalajara campus, located in Zapopan, Mexico, held their first Slow Art Week as a part of their Lead Creative Festival. Lead Creative is a festival that invites young people to seek change through art, and was hosted by Andrea Guadalupe Covarrubias. For the festival, art is broadly defined to include the visual arts, along with instrumental and vocal music, dance, and theater.

With over 1800 participants, this hybrid event had both in-person engagement and social media posts on Facebook and Instagram with an average reach of 700 people per post.

Based on the success of their first Slow Art Day, they plan to hold slow looking sessions throughout the year and not just with visual art, but also with the choir, theater group, and dance artists.

The event was advertised as a part of the Lead Creative festival with the below flyer.

More information can be found on their website, along with videos from past events on their YouTube channel.

We can’t wait to see how Slow Art and Slow Looking are featured in next year’s Lead Creative festival!

– Robin, Ashley, Johanna, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

First Slow Art Day in Gard, France

On April 2, 2022, artist Christine Cougoule held her first Slow Art Day at Showroom Chris & Co. in Gard, France.

Installation in the showroom.

Christine led three one-hour four-step slow-looking sessions:

  • Welcome with a quick mindfulness session
  • Look slowly at 3 works for 10 minutes each
  • End with a quick mindfulness session
  • Discuss words that come to mind while sharing tea

We like this approachable design, which integrates mindfulness (and tea), and encourage the global community to consider copying what she’s done.

Below is some of the art she featured.

Canvas mixed media on paper.

Canvas mixed media: acrylic, ink, charcoal, hand made paper.

Christine publicized her event on both Facebook and Instagram in advance with the below flyer: 

She plans to lead more Slow Art Day sessions throughout the year. Keep a lookout for these on her Facebook and Instagram.

We are thrilled to welcome Christine to the Slow Art Day community, and look forward to her participation in 2023.

Ashley, Phyl, Johanna, Jessica Jane

Gratitude and Mindfulness for FMoPA’s Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa, Florida, hosted an in-person event focused on mindfulness and gratitude.

Slow Art Day participants viewing the artwork by Paul Caponigro, Stream and Trees, Redding, Connecticut, 1967, Silver gelatin print, Collection of the Artist.

During the event, participants were taken through a step-by-step presentation by Zora Carrier, Executive Director of FMoPA, which we highly recommend curators and educators review and consider for inspiration for their own events.

Participants were first invited to do a body scan — noticing their sensations without judgement. We love this beginning. This is a great way to ground people in their body and senses.

Once they were tuned up, they were then invited to look slowly at two photographs by Paul Caponigro and David Dennard, and think about the following promts for each:

  • Look carefully at this artwork. What do you notice? Write down your observations. Be thorough.
  • Carefully review your observations.
  • Write down any inferences, opinions or conclusions formed because of known facts?
  • Are there any details that you want to know more about? Write 3-5 additional questions.
  • What is the context of the image?
  • What might the photographer be feeling?
  • Is the image positive, negative or neutral?
  • Is this image about an idea/concept that we can’t recognize with our five senses?

Paul Caponigro, American, b. 1932, Stream and Trees, Redding, Connecticut, 1967, Silver gelatin print, Collection of the Artist.
David Dennard, American, b. 1954, Paul Caponigro, A Desert Father, Death Valley, 2020, Platinum-palladium print, Collection of the Artist.

To finish the session, all participants were asked to do some breathing exercises and write a gratitude note to a person of their choice, guided by a three-step prompt:

  • Step 1: Focus on the recipient. Spend a few moments thinking about the note recipient—what they did for you; what they said; what it meant—focusing on the feel of the paper, colors, or what mental images come to mind when you think about the person.
  • Step 2: Be specific and personal. Think about the thing you’re most grateful for out of your relationship with the person.
  • Step 3: Think about how it made you feel—then and now. Don’t feel restricted by making it look ‘good’ as long as you can communicate your gratitude. Art is subjective, and this won’t be criticized.

In our own slow looking of these two photographs, we were particularly captured by the juxtaposition of the lush, first photograph with the spare moonscape-like second photograph. Then, after several minutes, we looked at the caption and realized that the artist of the first one is the subject of the second one. That brought added joy to the slow looking experience.

We recommend that all Slow Art Day educators and curators do as we did, and go through Carrier’s presentation. As much as possible, look with a child’s naive eye.

We are very happy to welcome FMoPA to the global Slow Art Day, and can’t wait to see what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2023.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

PS. When we started Slow Art Day, almost no museums offered regular slow looking programming. We are happy to see that FMoPA not only participates in the global Slow Art Day, but also runs monthly slow looking events.

Mindful Slow Art Day in Singapore

For their first Slow Art Day, the gallery ARTualize in Singapore, Singapore, organized a Mindfulness with Paintings session, encouraging participants to combine mindfulness with slow looking.

On the 10th of April, ARTualize opened their two-hour session by introducing participants to some mindfulness techniques. Participants were then invited to look slowly and mindfully at selected paintings, including Low Hai Hong’s 海天一色 (literally: Sky and Sea). This was followed by discussion.

Low Hai Hong. 海天一色 (literally: Sky and Sea), from the collection Passion in Living – Paintings of Indonesia. Courtesy of ARTualize.

 

The gallery also hosts regular ‘Mindfulness with paintings’ sessions to get more people to discover the joy of looking at art. Sessions are held every Sunday from 2 to 4 pm.

Paintings on display in the gallery are also available for rent to give people the opportunity to experience the art in their own homes. Exhibited works are changed every two months. Click here to learn more.

At Slow Art Day HQ, our mission since 2010 has been to build a slow looking and mindfulness movement around the world. As a result, one of our goals has been to use the annual event to inspire museums and galleries to host regular slow looking sessions throughout the year.

We are happy to see that ARTualize are both participants and leaders in this movement and look forward to whatever they come up with for Slow Art Day 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

P.S. If you would like to follow ARTualize’s updates, you can follow them on their Facebook page.

Slow Art ‘Can Doers’: A British Museum Collaboration

For their first Slow Art Day, the British Museum, in London, UK, collaborated with the Can Do Project, a skills-development programme for people aged 16-35 with a disability or long-term health condition, run by the resendential care company Leonard Cheshire.

The week-long Zoom-based slow looking program was initiated by the British Museum’s Volunteer Coordinator for Access, Equality and Young People, Jessica Starns, along with Leonard Cheshire’s Programme Coordinator, Deborah Sciortino.

During sessions, participants were invited to take a long look at objects from the museum collection, and observe their shapes, contours and colors. These ‘Can Doers’ then gave their opinion on what they believed the objects were used for. Afterwards, a brief history about the object was shared by a facilitator to spark further discussion. In the final session, participants were asked to choose their favorite object and create a short presentation about it. Alongside looking at objects slowly, topics such as equality and diversity, employability skills, helping visitors to make sense of their visit to the museum, and online safety on social media were covered with help from the Leonard Cheshire Marketing Team.

‘Can Doer’ presenting an Egyptian Artwork on Zoom

On April 10, 2021, the events culminated with a presentation of the participants’ favorite objects in collaboration with the Keiken Collective, which worked with the group to develop object reveal Instagram filters and create digital postcards using 3D scanned museum objects on the 3D & AR platform Sketchfab. The collective took inspiration from the fact that the British Museum has been selling postcards for over one hundred years. The presentations were pre-recorded at home by participants, then played for the group in the live session.

Example of a 3D artwork created on Sketchfab

Thomas Winter, the Digital Marketing Volunteer at Leonard Cheshire, wrote a blog post about the events that is worth reading.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we are excited that the British Museum, together with the Can Do Project and the Keiken Collective, designed such an inclusive Slow Art Day event. It inspires all of us when educators and organizations collaborate to design new kinds of slow looking experiences.

We look forward to seeing what the British Museum comes up with for Slow Art Day in 2022 (and would love to see another collaboration).

Jessica, Johanna, Ashley, and Phyl

P.S. The British museum has an extensive volunteer programme which you can view here.