Gardiner Museum Hosts Sense-ational Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day, The Gardiner Museum in Toronto, Canada, hosted an immersive virtual event with a multi-sensory focus.

On April 4, four photos of Linda Swanson’s TEMPLUM OF A PRECIOUS THING OF NO VALUE, A SHAPELESS THING OF MANY SHAPES, 2020, were shared to social media in intervals. An event outline was also available as a downloadable PDF, which can be viewed in full here. Because their session was so well designed, we have included more detail in the excerpted prompts below.

Participants were encouraged to spend 5-10 minutes with each photo, and consider the accompanying prompts and questions:

View of Linda Swanson’s TEMPLUM OF A PRECIOUS THING OF NO VALUE, A SHAPELESS THING OF MANY SHAPES, 2020, Clay, water, metal, nylon, wood.
Part of the RAW Exhibition at The Gardiner Museum. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Imagine yourself seated on the bench next to the installation. Take in the full picture. Let your eyes move slowly around the image as you absorb what you’re seeing.

  • Focus on each individual element of the work. What kinds of lines and shapes do you notice?
  • Consider the areas of light and shadow. How does the lighting influence the mood or feel of the installation?
  • What do you think you’ll see as you move closer? What textures and patterns might appear?
View of Linda Swanson’s TEMPLUM OF A PRECIOUS THING OF NO VALUE, A SHAPELESS THING OF MANY SHAPES, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Once again, take in the full picture. Let your eyes move slowly around the image as you grasp this new perspective and information.

  • What do you notice now that you may not have perceived in the first image? Does this change your impression or understanding of the work?
  • Shift your attention to the cables. What kinds of shapes and forms do you notice in the negative space around and between the cables?
  • Consider the weight of the water contained in each membrane. Close your eyes and imagine that your arms are the cables holding them above the ground. What do you experience?
View of Linda Swanson’s TEMPLUM OF A PRECIOUS THING OF NO VALUE, A SHAPELESS THING OF MANY SHAPES, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Again, take in the full picture. Let your eyes move slowly around the image as you register the new details.

  • How does this perspective add to or change your interpretation of the artwork up to this point?
  • Close your eyes and picture yourself gently pressing a finger against the nylon membrane. Feel the weight of the water shifting. Does it remind you of a sensation you’ve experienced before?
  • Narrow in on the water droplets that are gathered on the membrane. Imagine poking them with your finger. How would the water feel running down your hand?
View of Linda Swanson’s TEMPLUM OF A PRECIOUS THING OF NO VALUE, A SHAPELESS THING OF MANY SHAPES, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

For the last time, let your eyes move slowly around the image as you take it in.

  • What would it feel like to run your fingers through the clay? To pick up a handful.
  • Close your eyes and imagine the smell of the clay, both dry and wet. What does it smell like? Is it earthy? Musty? Chalky?
  • Now consider the work as its own ecosystem or world. How would you describe it to a friend? How would you articulate its look, feel, and smell?

This was such a well-designed slow looking session that we hope more people who are reading this on the Slow Art Day website will take the time to go through this event themselves.

The Gardiner Museum is one of many museums that had to quickly re-think how to keep the public engaged with art during the Covid19 pandemic. By using photos and descriptive prompts of the installation from their special exhibition RAW, they successfully produced an imaginative multi-sensory experience – even with the added element of being virtual.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we absolutely love how immersive this event was. It reminded us how powerfully our minds can conjure up the real-life experiences of textures, shapes, weight, and scents.

We very much hope that The Gardiner Museum will continue hosting Slow Art Day events – and in their actual museum space in 2021.

– Johanna

Note: The listed prompts were selected from the original, full list of prompts provided by The Gardiner Museum.




Experimental Slow Looking Session with MART in Italy

The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Rovereto and Trento (MART), Italy, hosted its first experimental Slow Art Day session via Zoom.

The virtual session was attended by a select group of MART members who discussed 4 artworks from the museum’s permanent collection, including Osvaldo Licini’s Bilico (1933) and Fortunato Depero’s Chiesa di Lizzana (1923).

Osvaldo Licini, Bilico, 1933. Part of the Augusto and Francesca Giovanardi Collection: “La Magnifica Ossessione”, MART.
Fortunato Depero, Chiesa di Lizzana (Lizzana), 1923, MART, Fondo Depero. Photo: MART Photographic Archive and Media Library.

Five days before the session, Denise Bernabe, Membership Coordinator at MART, emailed participants images of the artworks along with a brief explanation of slow looking (without disclosing the artists or the titles of the works).

During the hour and a half session, Bernabe facilitated a relaxed discussion in which participants made personal and emotional remarks about the artworks based solely on their immediate slow-looking responses. All participants loved the experience and, as a direct result of this session, the MART is planning to continue integrating slow-looking with future events.

The event was instigated by local art enthusiast Piero Consolati, who has been a MART member for several years and frequently participates in museum events. The session was made possible through his interest in slow looking, which prompted him to approach the staff at MART about hosting an event.

Public engagement with both art and museums is something that Slow Art Day strongly promotes, and the MART event is a beautiful example of the important role art enthusiasts can play in initiating events and furthering the slow art movement throughout the community. At Slow Art Day HQ, we are very excited to hear about the MART’s slow-looking Zoom session, and are thankful to Consolati for reaching out to us with the details.

We look forward to hearing about future slow looking events hosted by MART hopefully also for Slow Art Day 2021.

– Johanna

The Eaton Gallery Hosts Slow Art Day Drive-By Exhibition

For its 1st Slow Art Day, The Eaton Gallery in Bloomington, IL, organized a creative drive-by exhibition of “The Illuminated Pages of Ours.”

Due to Covid19, gallery owner Pamala Eaton moved the scheduled exhibition to the gallery’s window display so that it could be seen by pedestrians, cyclists, and anyone happening to drive by without violating social distancing measures.

Visitor pausing to view the drive-by exhibition at The Eaton Gallery.
Image: Jane Osborn

Featuring contemporary works by 11 local artists, the exhibition was themed around references to the history of manuscript illumination. Strongly inspired by the illuminations in The Book of Kells (c. 800 C.E.), Eaton invited local artists to creatively use medieval manuscripts as inspiration for their own work in the exhibition.

Featured artists: Mary Jo Adam, Angel Ambrose, Janean Baird, Jeannie Breitweiser, Doug DeLong/Veronica Strotzka, Herb Eaton, Joann Goetzinger, Rick Harney, Jane Osborn, Melanie Shellito, and Brian Simpson/Rachel Cofer.

Although originally planned as an in-gallery event, Eaton was delighted that the exhibition was still able to take place through the window-display; which enabled even more people to see it. The gallery also recently hosted another drive-by exhibition due to continued lockdown measures.

The manuscript exhibition was on display between April 1-20 and was widely publicized with mentions in VisitBN and The Pantagraph. The Datebook program at WGLT also hosted an interview with Eaton about the event.

“We have so many talented artists in this community. We need to celebrate what those gifts are and be willing to share them. Even in this time of stress, it’s a good way to take your mind off of something and try to find some hope and faith and move forward.”

PAMALA EATON
INTERVIEW WITH THE DATEBOOK PROGRAM

The Slow Art Day HQ team has loved reading about the Eaton Gallery event. I especially appreciate the strong emphasis on the local artist community. It reminds us how important art can be in fostering connection, perhaps especially during times such as the present.

We look forward to Slow Art Day 2021, when we hope The Eaton Gallery will participate with another wonderful event.

– Johanna

Latvia’s Riga Bourse Joins Slow Art Day

The Art Museum Riga Bourse in Riga, Latvia, hosted their first Slow Art Day this year as a virtual event, like many art institutions across the world, due to Covid19.

Participants were invited to slowly view five works for 5-10 minutes each from the museum’s permanent collection using their Google Arts & Culture platform:

Portrait of William II, Prince of Orange-Nassau by the workshop of Anthony van Dyck, 1632 (the most viewed painting of the event, pictured below)
Musical Society by Niccolo Renieri, 17th century
Banks of the Tiber near Acqua Acetosa by Ludwig Richter, 1835
Christ on the Cross by Pieter Pietersz Aertsen, late 16th- early 17th century
Fisher Girl by Eugène Isabey, 1850

Workshop of Anthony van Dyck, Portrait of William II, Prince of Orange-Nassau, 1632, oil on canvas. Collection of the Latvian National Museum of Art. Used with permission.

The Google Arts platform allowed participants to zoom in on the 5 selected artworks to closely study brushstrokes and textures. Participants were then encouraged to consider the wider social context of each work and provide their commentary via the museum’s Facebook and Twitter accounts which reached more than 4000 people during the event. The museum produced a video (in Latvian) about Google Arts and slow looking that is still available to download.

Sandra Kempele, Curator of Education at Riga Bourse, reflected on how “encouraging [it is] to be part of this global community” of Slow Art Day especially now in the face of changing and trying circumstances.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we heartily echo this sentiment. Despite still advocating for the special experience of viewing art in museums, we are continually encouraged by the creativity and adaptability showcased by art institutions such as the Riga Bourse during this pandemic.

We look forward to the Riga Bourse’s continued participation in 2021 –hopefully in their actual museum.

– Johanna

Museo Pedagógico de Aragón Hosts First Slow Art Day

For The Museo Pedagógico de Aragón first Slow Art Day, the Huesca, Spain-based museum designed a compelling and important virtual event.

Participants were invited to slowly view a photograph from the museum’s archive, and given prompts for reflection. Responses were then emailed to Sara Lugo, Curator at Museo Pedagógico de Aragón, for collation.

The 1959 photo, titled ‘Sewing Afternoon’ (or ‘Afternoon of Work’), depicts the female teacher Rosa Mairal and students from a small town in northern Spain during General Franco’s dictatorship.

‘Afternoon of work, Rosa Mairal and her students, Girls School, Borau (Huesca)’, 1959.
Archive of the Pedagogical Museum of Aragon.

The image sparked discussion around a range of topics, including the working conditions of female teachers, the types of subjects taught to girls, and the current role of women in education.

Participants concluded that the education of women has greatly improved since 1959, but many changes still need to be made, especially in working conditions for women all over the world.

The museum’s virtual event received 84 views of the event listing, and over 1000 Twitter interactions and Facebook views. 

Sara Lugo, Curator at Museo Pedagógico de Aragón, said she really liked Slow Art Day and hopes to continue in the future when we can return to the physical museums and galleries.

At Slow Art Day HQ we are delighted that Museo Pedagógico de Aragón has begun their Slow Art Day journey with such a wonderful event and very much look forward to their continued participation.

– Johanna