To celebrate Slow Art Day 2021 when museums were locked down in England, artist Jo Essen, based in Birmingham, UK, organized a slow looking bike ride to Sarehole Mill.
The historical mill, today a museum and bakery, is well-known for its connection with J. R. R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He once lived across the road from the Mill, and it inspired his writings about Middle-earth.
Essen shared an online video from the bike ride, and encouraged others in the pandemic lockdown to get out and do some slow looking. “It was wonderful to be involved in slow looking even when we were not able to visit museums,” said Jo Essen.
So, while the British Museum, Tate Modern, the Norton Simon Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, and many other large museums ran virtual (or in-person events), and while a number of smaller museums and galleries also ran Slow Art Day sessions, 2021 also included Jo Essen and her family looking slowly at nature and architecture.
This report is a fitting final post for 2021, especially as we and the world struggle through yet another wave of the coronavirus. (Note: you can read all of our 2021 published reports, or wait for our 2021 annual report to be published in February of 2022.)
We hope you have a wonderful new year wherever you are in the world. And perhaps take some inspiration from Essen and go out and do some slow looking at nature, architecture, public art, or in museums and galleries, if they are open in your area.
Stay safe and healthy and get ready for yet another year of building the slow looking movement.
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.
On April 10, 2021, the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hosted both in-person and virtual sessions for their 7th Slow Art Day.
For the in-person activity, visitors were first introduced to the concept of slow looking, and were then invited to practice what they learned as they walked through the museum. Participants were encouraged to share their experiences on social media and tag the museum with #PMASlowArtDay.
The virtual event consisted of four separate Zoom sessions focused on slow looking, writing, making, and mindfulness.
For the slow looking session, participants were encouraged to use a naturalist’s attention to detail when looking at still life paintings. Using tools like the Google Art & Education app allowed them to zoom in and experience works of art in a different way compared to in-person.
The Slow Making session took the form of a workshop inspired by the work of artist Judith Rothschild. For this session, participants cut and collaged materials to create their own mixed-media work of art, which resulted in the works you see below.
For this session, participants were guided in a communal writing exploration of portraits in the museum’s exhibition Painting Identity. Participants were asked to imagine and write about the subjects’ identity.
For this virtual session, the Yogi, martial artist, and body worker J Miles of Maha Vira Yoga encouraged participants to find their inner calm with a slow, guided look at a selection of works from the PMA’s collection. This section had a more internal approach compared to the other three sessions.
The events were well received, and the virtual participants responded positively to the PMA survey on Slow Art Day:
“The programs will make me more mindful when visiting the museum. I appreciated the opportunities to look more deeply at works of art that I might have otherwise skipped by.”
“A lovely creative and mindful way to start my day”
Participant’s quote after attending the Museum Mindful Session
“Taking time to smell the virtual flowers and using Google Art & Education app to zoom in on every area of a painting; seeing that each component had significance in the painting.”
Participant’s quote after having attended the Slow Looking session
“…slowing down & listening to/reading other participants comments, seeing their creations… is very rewarding and opens new vistas.”
Participant’s quote after having attended the Slow Making session
“Very creative and uplifting. I felt renewed and encouraged, and also came up with some ideas for my own teaching”
Participant’s quote after having attended the Slow Writing session
At Slow Art Day HQ, we want to thank the Philadelphia Museum of Art for hosting yet another wonderful event. The range of activities they designed inspire us and educators around the world to consider creating multiple workshops and experiences for Slow Art Day.
We look forward to whatever creative designs the Philadelphia Museum of Art comes up with in 2022.
Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl
PS. For further information on the museum’s events you can follow their social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
For their fourth Slow Art Day, the MASS MoCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), in North Adams, Massachusetts, produced a self-guide leaflet for in-person visitors and organized a virtual event for participants at home.
For visitors to MASS MoCA on April 10th, the museum offered a Slow Art Day Self-Guided Itinerary that challenged visitors to take an unhurried look at MASS MoCA’s exhibitions.
Before starting their tour, visitors were invited to try a “forest bath” outside the museum. Below are the guidelines from the leaflet:
“Start your slow experience by putting your phone away; plan on going back through the museum after this tour to take photos. Settle into being at the museum by taking in a few deep breaths. As you do so, observe any tensions in your body and release them. Put on hold any distracting thoughts like ‘I have to see everything!’ or ‘What is this place?’ Next, take a few moments to engage in a forest bath to increase relaxation and awareness.
First, take 3–4 deep breaths in/out.
Stand noticing your feet touching the ground.
Look up to enjoy the sky; feel the light on your face.
Walk around slowly and take notice of the ground.
Notice the trees above, then the trees in the distance.
Notice and feel sunlight streaming through the trees and take in the smell.
If you are feeling ambitious, take a moment to move your body to mimic the trees above. What would it be like to contort yourself the way these trees have changed to grow upside down? (One option could be to try the yoga tree and mountain poses).”
The leaflet featured five artworks from the museum, each accompanied by slow looking prompts:
1. TREE LOGIC. Natalie Jeremijenko.
2. HOW TO MOVE A LANDSCAPE. Blane De St. Croix.
3. IN THE LIGHT OF A SHADOW. Glenn Kaino.
4.DISSOLVE James Turrell.
5. IN HARMONICITY, THE TONAL WALKWAY. Julianne Swartz.
After completing the tour, participants were encouraged to discuss their observations with friends and family, especially if visiting in a group.
For the online event, the museum launched virtual material as part of “MASS MoCA From Home.” Resources included two art “how-to” videos, featuring projects that focused on being present with the art-making process. Watch the videos below and try the projects for yourself.
As the final part of the program, MASS MoCA also produced a guided meditation that focused on the painting ‘Indian Summer – Four Seasons‘ by Wendy Red Star. Watch it below.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the way MASS MoCA incorporated nature and mindfulness in their event for both onsite and offsite participants – giving everyone an opportunity to slow down in different ways.
We are excited for their 5th Slow Art Day in 2022!
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 email@example.com.
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.
Sint-Pauluskerk in Antwerp, Belgium, hosted its fourth Slow Art Day event with a focus on the theme of “Resurrection”.
The event featured a comparison between the “Resurrection of Christ” by Aenout Vickenborgh, and Peter Paul Rubens’s painting with the same title, both of which are on display in the church.
On April 10, church visitors were invited to participate in a guided 45-minute session to view the paintings. The session featured slow looking, which was followed by discussion and detailed comparisons of the paintings by the guides. Due to continued pandemic restrictions, sessions were capped at 10 visitors per group, with only 15 people allowed in the church at the same time.
The church also created a short documentary for those who could not come in person. This was shared via email to their 1,500 subscribers. The documentary was also shared to the church’s Facebook page.
Below is a link to the video, but keep in mind that it is available only in Dutch.
Armand Storck, scriptor for Sint-Pauluskerk, hopes that their planned video production for Slow Art Day 2022 will include English subtitles to reach an international audience.
The in-person event was attended by 45 people in total, and the documentary video has been viewed by 2,500 people via Facebook and YouTube combined. Viewers of the video responded positively.
“Nicely presented, informative, pleasant. Thanks to the volunteers and to Armand for the introduction.”
“Incredibly beautiful, congratulations to the whole team!”
Participant responses to the “Der Verrijizenis” video on Facebook (translated from Dutch).
At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that Sint-Pauluskerk opens its doors for Slow Art Day with a theme that fits the church calendar. The alignment of slow looking exercises with the reflective period of lent works beautifully. We hope that more churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious organizations are inspired by their approach.
We look forward to another event from Sint-pauluskerk in 2022.