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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For their first Slow Art Day, Casa Regis, a non-profit association and centre for culture and contemporary art in Valdilana, Italy, featured local artists in a video and social-media-based event.
On April 10, 2021, art photographer and founder of Casa Regis, Mikelle Standbridge, uploaded a series of short videos of different artistic installations on the organization’s Instagram page.
The videos featured a soundscape of birds chirping, as Mikelle briefly introduces works by local artists Sissi Castellano, Daniele Basso, Carla Crosio, Michela Cavagna and herself. Note: the artists were selected and chosen in part because of the interesting juxtaposition of their work against the backdrop of the eighteenth-century building in which Casa Regis is located.
Below you can find pictures of the featured installations, links to the videos, and a brief description of each.
Sissi Castellano‘s silkworm cocoon installation entitled‘ ‘I AM NOT AN ARTIST‘, is based on the Japanese Mingei philosophy of objects, which the artist follows. The Mingei approach simulatenaously focuses on the function and aesthetic value of common household objects.
You can view the installation and the above video here.
Sculptor and artist Daniele Basso‘s ‘Hawk’, which comes from a series called Frames, is a stainless steel and white bronze sculpture. The artist plays with effects of mirroring, showing the complexity and the different levels of reality.
You can find a brief explanation and watch above video here.
Artist Carla Crosio‘s installation, entitled Cancer, is made of of marble, bronze and glass and it takes inspiration from her personal life.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the use of video for creating slow looking environments. We recommend that our museum educator and curator friends around the world watch some of the short videos that Mikelle created.
We are also happy to report that their inaugural event was so successful that they then planned in-person Slow Art day events for the rest of 2021. Excellent!
We look forward to whatever Casa Regis comes up with for Slow Art Day 2022.
Jessica, Johanna, Ashley, and Phyl
PS: A press release of the event is available in Italian here.
For their first Slow Art Day, the MO Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania, organized a free multi-lingual international event on Zoom as part of their MO Conversations program. On 10 April 2021, the museum hosted five conversation groups throughout the day to discuss ‘Interior XI,’ an artwork by Romanas Vilkauskas, in English, Russian, or Lithuanian.
Participants were invited to join a session in their preferred language and look slowly at the artwork before joining a discussion with one of the facilitators: Karen Vanhercke for English; Simona Košinskaitė and Justina Kaminskaitė for Lithuanian; and Irina Leto for Russian.
The aim was to encourage participants to connect with a single artwork for an entire hour, and no prior knowledge of art was required. The facilitators were well versed in the “visual thinking strategy” (VTS) discussion technique, which they used for the sessions.
Participants loved the event and left positive feedback:
Looking at, instead of reading about, the art: the practice of ‘slow art’ transformed my experience and gave me a deeper connection.
Actually, the major takeaway from today’s Zoom call, was my change of perception! In one hour the artpiece changed in front of my eyes. In the beginning it was just an artwork, but in the end it was a story.
The discussion made me appreciate it on different levels: peeling away at the layers of expression… It is truly a great piece, and great to see how timeless and flexible art can be.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we are excited that the MO Museum designed such an inclusive slow art event in three different languages. We encourage museum educators to consider multi-lingual options for future Slow Art Day events, and we look forward to whatever they come up with in 2022.
For their first Slow Art Day, Vänersborg Art Gallery, in Vänersborg, Sweden, organized an in-person event featuring three artworks by artist Bo Ljung from the exhibition Lysande Utsikter (“Brilliant Views” or “Great Expectations”).
On April 10, 2021, participants joined this Gallery in southern Sweden after hours to participate in the slow looking event. They looked at each of the three artworks for 10 minutes, and then had an open and stimulating discussion about their experience. Food and water were provided. You can view the artworks from Bo Ljung’s exhibition here.
Reflecting on the event, Kajsa Frostensson, Gallery Manager, said they learned a lot from their pilot Slow Art Day and look forward to running more slow looking events in the future.
The openness in mind and thought that is required [during slow looking] is something I think we need training in, and we as an organizer also need training in administrating the talking afterwards. Nevertheless, it was a good experience and I liked it very much. So did our participants.
While Kajsa and her team may be new at this, they have already contributed one good idea to the global Slow Art Day movement: host slow looking sessions after regular hours. Other galleries and smaller museums might want to borrow this idea. We imagine that an after hours session helps to support slow looking in this fast-paced world of ours.
We look forward to whatever other innovations Vänersborg Art Gallery comes up with for their second Slow Art Day in 2022.
Johanna, Ashley, Jessica, and Phyl
P.S. You can also follow the Gallery’s Facebook page for more updates.
The Three Sisters Tearoom, in Campbellsville, Tennessee, hosted their first official Slow Art Day – and due to popular demand, they decided to hold slow looking sessions throughout the whole month of April.
The Stowe family, who run the tearoom, designed their Slow Art Month around selected paintings that featured tea as a centerpiece.
One of the Family. Fredrick George Cotman
Beauty and the Beast. Jessi Wilcox Smith.
During the sessions, visitors looked slowly at the selected works while sipping tea and listening to live music. This was followed by an engaging discussion where participants shared their observations.
The paintings selected, along with many others, are included in two slow-art-inspired books: Infused: Tea Time in Fine Art, and The Hide and Seek Gallery: A Child’s I Spy in Fine Art. Both books are written by Jennifer Stowe, slow art author, tearoom owner, and mother to the three sisters that the tearoom is named after.
The events were well received by participants of all ages. Julia Stowe said that she and her sisters are excited to continue hosting multi-generational slow art sessions throughout the year.
“Guests of all ages enjoyed this set-apart time to consider art, and the unique and intriguing observations from art-observers of various generations were especially delightful.”
At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that the Stowe family have adopted multi-generational slow looking sessions throughout the year.
We have been thinking about creating an annual tour to visit Slow Art Day museums and galleries all over the world. Assuming we make that happen, we hope to visit Campbell, TN and try their tea and slow art infusions.
In the meantime, we look forward to what the Three Sisters Tearoom comes up with for Slow Art Month in 2022.
Johanna, Ashley, Jessica, and Phyl
P.S. If you are interested in learning more about their approach, read the Summer 2021 newsletter below.
For their first Slow Art Day, the National Gallery Singapore, in Singapore, invited participants to join one of two events hosted by the Gallery:
Slow Art Online: a virtual 60-minute slow-looking program
Slow Art Plus: an in-person 90-minute slow-looking and mindfulness program
The Slow Art Online virtual program featured slow-looking exercises followed by discussions, facilitated by the Gallery’s docents. Started during the pandemic, this program has become so popular that it is now a regular part of the Gallery’s calendar throughout the year. For details about future sessions, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the Slow Art Plus in-person event, visitors participated in mindfulness exercises and were invited to look slowly at a selection of artworks, including Georgette Chen’s Lotus In A Breeze (1970).
Dr. Mabel Yap, a trained mindfulness practitioner, guided participants through mindfulness exercises that she designed to engage the senses. This was followed by a group discussion about the intersection between visual art and emotional wellness in modern Southeast Asian art. The way the mindfulness exercises slowed down the participants and helped them connect to the art explains why this approach has deservedly become a big part of Slow Art Day events around the world.
Interested participants snapped up free tickets to both programs rapidly, and people both new and familiar with the Gallery had positive feedback.
“I didn’t realise how much we can observe and gain from art by being mindful. I liked that the various exercises helped to guide us and provided variety.”
“(I really enjoyed) viewing the art piece at length and noticing more details… and hearing others’ perspectives how the paintings were relevant to their experience.”
“Fusing the concepts of mindfulness and art! Wonderful exercises with the facilitator. Very interactive.”
“(I really enjoyed) how I’m stretched to think and look at the art piece in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that the National Gallery Singapore has decided to produce ongoing virtual sessions. Our mission from day one has been to use the annual event as a way to inspire regular slow looking activities throughout the year.
We were also glad to see yet another museum integrate mindfulness into their Slow Art Day.
We look forward to what the National Gallery Singapore come up with next year.
Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl.
P.S. You can check out the Facebook and Instagram page of National Gallery Singapore for more information about upcoming events.
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.
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:
What did the experience feel like to you?
What surprised you?
What inspired you?
What sparked your curiosity?
What do you remember the most?
Write a 6 word story or Haiku
Use scraps of paper or other materials to build something
Take a photo
Design a symbol
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.”
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.”
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.
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).
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.
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.
A very memorable experience. Allowed me to be mindful and really enjoy the vibrant artwork.
Great idea to marry meditation practices and art! I want more!
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!
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!
For their first Slow Art Day, the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art (AKMA), in St Joseph, Missouri, invited visitors to slowly look at three works of art:
Frederick Judd Waugh, “Ladies Having Tea,” 1890. Oil on canvas.
Emily Dubowski, “Sunday Visit,” 1972. Acrylic on panel.
Luis Jimenez, “Eagle and Snake II,” 2008. Lintograph.
The museum had planned for participants to look at these three works of art for 10 minutes each, then meet to discuss the experience for 45 minutes together with a docent. However, circumstances caused them to quickly change their strategy.
First, many of the volunteer docents decided to self-isolate due to the pandemic, so at the last minute Jill Carlson, Marketing & Communications Manager, and her partner decided to lead the event. Fortunately, Carlson had previously participated in a Slow Art Day at BOZAR in Brussels a few years ago. That experience had inspired her to design the event at AKMA and made it easier for her to jump in and host the day.
It also likely made it easier for her to contend with the second change: a group of prom-going teenagers and their families showed up. For this tuxedo- and ballgown-clad audience, Carlson redesigned Slow Art Day on the fly and ended up giving brief information and suggestions for slow looking in front of each artwork. And the teenagers loved it (and we know how hard it can be to engage teenagers).
We’ll also note that Carlson and her team did a good job marketing Slow Art Day. In addition to the museum’s calendar of events, they advertised on their Facebook and Instagram pages and generated coverage in two local news outlets – The Savannah Reporter and Flatland (perhaps this is how the prom goers ended up coming).
They also created a simple brochure directing participants to the three artworks (see below).
At Slow Art Day HQ we are really impressed with Carlson and her team’s commitment to Slow Art Day and to pivoting quickly at the last moment.
We look forward to what they come up with for Slow Art Day in 2022.