Dutch Art at the Holland Museum

For their first Slow Art Day, the Holland Museum in Holland, Michigan, organized an in-person event inviting participants to engage with their Dutch art collection.

Beach Scene with Men on Horseback, n.d., Johannes Koekkoek (1840-1912), oil on canvas

Participants were divided in four small groups and were encouraged to look at the selected paintings for five minutes each, then to share their thoughts with a friend or another participant from the event. Education & Community Programs Manager Michelle Stempien provided them with a short brochure with images from the Dutch art collection.

Holland Museum’s Slow Art Day brochure.

The brochure contained different open-ended questions and prompts for each painting, to encourage more in-depth looking:

Elegant Company Making Music, 1660, Jacob Duck (1600-1667), oil on panel

Prompts for “Elegant Company Making Music” by Jacob Duck :

  • What do you think the woman on the left is thinking about?
  • Why is she looking at us?
  • How does the artist show us her importance?
  • What seems unusual about this scene?

Other prompts included the comparison between these two paintings:

Portraits of Cornelius Van Beresteyn and
Janntje Berckel, 1617, Pieter Jacobsz
(1608-1677), oil on panel

A docent was also available to discuss the paintings. Participants were playfully encouraged to copy some of the poses in paintings, and post photos of their poses to social media.

We encourage educators and curators to consider copying their joyful slow looking design — including their brochure.

And we at Slow Art Day HQ are happy to welcome the Holland Museum to Slow Art Day, and look forward to what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2023.

Jessica Jane, Johanna, Ashley, and Phyl

A Slow Look at the Trinity with MIT List Visual Arts Center

For their 7th Slow Art Day, the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, MA, invited visitors to a slow looking session focused on “Trinity” (Beverly Pepper, 1971), a sculpture from their Public Art Collection.

The event was organized and led by Elizabeth Ponce, Public Programs Coordinator, and Fatima Nasir Abbasi, MIT List Tour Guide.

Beverly Pepper, Trinity, 1971, Cor-Ten steel, 36 x 276 x 288 in. (91.4 x 701 x 731.5 cm), Gift of the Sonnabend Foundation, Photo by Chuck Mayer. 

On the day, participants met as a group and walked over to the sculpture. They were invited to look slowly at the sculpture for 10-15 minutes, and use that time to write, sketch or simply think about the artwork. Following this, the group shared their thoughts with each other.

The group was given the following prompts for the session. (Note: we encourage museum educators to consider copying these for slow looking events featuring sculpture.)

  • Stare at the piece.
  • When your mind begins to wander, refocus on the work.
  • What are your thoughts, experiences, feelings?
  • Consider: Form and shape, scale, color, installation space, concept, emotion, craft, design.
  • Change your perspective.
  • Move around, and observe this sculpture from a different angle.
  • Get close and examine the surface, the construction, and composition.
  • Back up and consider the work in its environment.

Pepper’s sculptures are known to touch on a wide range of themes – including religion, sexuality and emotion. This sculpture was originally titled Dunes I, which evokes images of the desert. The altered title allows viewers to explore a wider range of connotations, including the idea of religious or spiritual unity.

We at the Slow Art Day HQ team always like to see sculpture featured in slow looking events. The three-dimensionality allows participants to move around and engage the artwork from a wide range of perspectives. Further, because scuplture provides so many angles it enhances the way that slow looking connects us not only with art but with ourselves.

We look forward to what the MIT List Visual Arts Center comes up with for their 8th Slow Art Day in 2023.

-Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane and Phyl

PS. Stay updated with events at the MIT List Visual Arts Center through their Instagram and Facebook pages.

War and Peace at El Nido Art Space in Los Angeles


On April 2, 2022, the El Nido Art Space presented by VC Projects in Los Angeles, CA hosted their first Slow Art Day, which focused on a two-person exhibition titled “War and Peace” (Ukrainian Voices) by Denys Kushnarov, a Kyiv-based filmmaker, and Yuri Boyko, an LA-based Ukranian-American photographer and artist.

The in-person event featured six short films about Ukraine, which Kushnarov is associated with:

  • “Make Music Not War!” (made after the Donbas region and Crimea Peninsula were annexed by Russia)
  • “Rocketman”
  • “United System”
  • “There is a Place” (dedicated to the Chernobyl tragedy)
  • “Annihilation”
  • Memorial Choir “Ukraina”

Kushnarov also wrote “A Message from Ukraine,” a letter to the world based on the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The exhibition also featured the photography series, “Departure and Arrival”, by Boyko, which presented written prose and a visual exploration of the LA-based Ukranian-American artist’s grandmother’s home in Ukraine. Boyko visited the home after 30 years of absence, and found that all family rituals and traditions were still intact. His photographs capture a past that has now been destroyed.

Yuri Boyko, “Departure and Arrival (X)”, photography, pigment print on canvas, 8.5 x 11 in. single edition
Yuri Boyko, “Departure and Arrival (I)”, photography, pigment print on canvas, 8.5 x 11 in. single edition
Yuri Boyko, “Departure and Arrival (IV)”, photography, pigment print on canvas, 8.5 x 11 in. single edition

Victoria Chapman, Founder and Director of VC Projects, curated the exhibition by contacting the two artists in the wake of the Russian invasion. She writes, “What could be more relevant for Slow Art Day … taking pause to reflect on art and humanity.”

The event was attended by 50 guests, and was promoted on their website, where you can find links to the videos and view more of the photography. You can also check out more from VC Projects and the El Nido Art Space on Instagram at VC Projects and El Nido Art Space. Below is a flyer used to promote the event:

We at Slow Art Day HQ are deeply saddened by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and are glad to see communities come together to reflect on art and humanity.

Ashley, Phyl, Jessica Jane, and Johanna

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

Inside Out Accessible Art’s First Slow Art Day

In what we hope is the beginning of a global trend, Bloomington, Illinois was home this year to the first planned citywide Slow Art Day event.

Nine galleries across this town, including the non-profit art collective Inside Out Accessible Art, Inc (IOAA), participated in what they called their Route 66 Slow Art Day initiative (Eaton, Illinois is situated on the historic Route 66 highway in the U.S.).

In addition to what IOAA and each of the other galleries did, the big win here of course is the way longtime host Pamala Eaton organized the first citywide Slow Art Day (see this earlier post and this local media coverage for more information).

The IOAA’s design for Slow Art Day was simple.

Visitors were invited to slowly look at the art of six local artists and then talk with each of the artists, who were invited to spend the day with slow lookers.

The six artists who participated were the following:

  • Peggy Dunlap (mixed media)

Photo credits: Shelley Schultz
Slow Art Day 2022 at IOAA. Photo credits: Shelley Schultz

At Slow Art Day HQ we look forward to publishing the reports from the other eight galleries, and to writing a wrap-up analysis of Bloomington’s citywide event, including what other cities might learn about doing something similar.

Of course, we also hope that the IOAA will host another Slow Art Day in 2023, and that next year’s event will be part of yet another citywide experience.

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

Ps. The IOAA is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit that has a physical gallery space for artists, provides art classes and events and works cooperatively with others in the community to provide art experiences. Check them out online or Facebook.

Birmingham Museum of Art hosts 9th Slow Art Day

The Birmingham Museum of Art (BMA) in Alabama — one of the founding Slow Art Day host museums back in 2010 — invited visitors in 2022 to a Slow Art Day featuring contemporary pieces of art in their collection.

Participants were invited to look at two pieces of art, including “The Deserted Studio” by artist Robert Motherwell.

Robert Motherwell, “The Deserted Studio”, acrylic and charcoal on canvas, Birmingham Museum of Art collection.

After 5-10 minutes spent individually contemplating the artworks, participants took part in a relaxed discussion hosted by Julia Stork, Master Docent at the museum.

The event was attended by BMA docent alumni alongside local Slow Art Day enthusiasts, who all appreciated the event, with one participant exclaiming “Let’s do this again sooner than next year!” (The BMA used to host Slow Art Sundays, but discontinued them when the pandemic hit — we hope they can start them up again in the future.)

We can’t wait to see what the BMA comes up with in 2023.

– Johanna, Ashley, Jessica and Phyl

Slowing Down with Diné art at the Museum of Northern Arizona

For their fourth Slow Art Day, the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) in Arizona, USA, hosted a slow looking event in combination with the opening of a new exhibition, Náátsʼíilid / Rainbow Light, featuring art by Diné artist Baje Whitethorne Sr., who grew up on the Navajo Nation Reservation.

Baje Whitethorne Sr., 1985, Watercolor on paper, MNA#C2587. Image courtsey of the MNA.

Before the event, the museum posted a video to YouTube, where Alan Petersen, Curator of Fine Art, and Samantha Honanie, Bookstore & Publications Manager, introduced slow looking and Slow Art Day.

We highly recommend that all museum educators and curators view this well-done video.

Alan Petersen, Curator of Fine Art, and Samantha Honanie, Bookstore & Publications Manager, at MNA, discussing slow looking and Slow Art Day. 30 March, 2022.

In six minutes, Samantha and Alan show (not tell) the viewer how Slow Art Day works.

They use some simple but ingenious methods for “showing” 10 minutes of slow looking in just a minute or so — and they then capture the joy of discovery and enthusiasm that participants experience (that is so hard to describe in words).

It’s a real joy to watch.

Take a look and think about how you might borrow some of their techniques for your next Slow Art Day event.

For the actual day, participants were given a Slow Art Day cheat sheet of slow looking prompts.

Participants were then invited to view the art by Baje Whitethorne, choosing the order they wanted to see the artworks in, and applying the slow looking promts from the cheat sheet.

At 2pm, all participants gathered in the Living Room at the museum, where Alan Petersen led a discussion of the insights and experiences from the event.

We recommend viewing the following video of artist Baje Whitethorne introducing the title and theme of his exhibition, Náátsʼíilid / Rainbow Light, below.

Baje Whitethorne introducing the exhibition theme – Náátsʼíilid/Rainbow Light.

We love everything about the NMA’s Slow Art Day – the preparatory video, the cheat sheet and the artwork chosen. We hope you get a chance to spend as much time with Baje Whitethorne and their work as we did in preparing this report.

We at Slow Art Day HQ are grateful that via writing these reports we get to look at and experience art from all over the world – art we may never have otherwise been able to see.

We look forward to whatever the Museum of Northern Arizona comes up with for Slow Art Day 2023.

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

P.S. Stay updated with events at the Museum of Northern Arizona via their Facebook page.

Seaside Sculpture Park Slow Art Day

Founding Slow Art Day host (and regular contributor to the Slow Art Day blog), artist Hedy Buzan organized an in-person slow-looking event at the Public Art Walk in Heisler Park Gazebo, Laguna Beach, California.

Below is the flyer that Hedy distributed in the beachside artist community of Laguna Beach.

Slow Art Day flyer

For this event, Hedy chose five public art sculptures at Heisler Park, and asked participants to look at each for five minutes. Below are photos of three of the sculptures.

Semper Momento (Never Forget), 911 Memorial, by Jorg Dubin

Continuous Rotation by Scott and Naomi Schoenherr

Breaching Whale by Jon Seeman

When we launched Slow Art Day in 2010, Hedy and about 30 other artists and volunteers ran ‘guerilla-style’ Slow Art Day events at museums, galleries, and sculpture parks. These were unofficial events because museums were not at first willing to participate. But after several years of running these clandestine slow-looking events, museums and galleries began to adopt Slow Art Day – which has now been officially sponsored by over 2,000 museums and galleries all over the world.

We thank Hedy for being one of the pioneers that made this whole movement possible and can’t wait to see what she comes up with for 2023.

Jessica Jane, Ashley and Phyl

P.S. – If you happen to be in Laguna Beach anytime this summer between June 24 and August 28, then look for Hedy Buzan’s booth at The Sawdust Art Festival and go thank her for helping to launch Slow Art Day.

Exploring Grief in Art at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

For their fourth Slow Art Day, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens invited guests to slow down and enjoy the immersive indoor and outdoor mixed media art environment created by artist Isaiah Zagar. The winding spaces are covered in mosaics created with Zagar’s handmade tiles and found objects, such as folk art, bottles, bike wheels, and mirrors.

Second level of the outside sculpture garden, featuring Isaiah Zagar’s Kohler tiles. Photo by Allison Boyle, Events & Marketing Manager.

Zagar’s art can also be seen on public walls throughout the south Philadelphia community, where he has been restoring and beautifying public spaces since the 1960s.

Mosiac building exterior by Isaiah Zagar on South St, Philadelphia. Photo by Ashley Moran, Slow Art Day Editor.

After slowing down to take in the details of the space, Samantha Eusebio, Museum Educator, led a discussion on a particular section of the outdoor sculpture garden that included several large handmade tiles that Zagar made during a residency he held at the Kohler company in Wisconsin from September to November, 2001.

Samantha Eusebio and Slow Art Day participants. Photo by Ashley Moran, Slow Art Day Editor.

Samantha first asked the group of 15 participants to share themes that they noticed emerging within the tiles. She then shared a video interview of Zagar talking about his experience at Kohler.

After the video, Samantha led a discussion about Zagar’s influences for the large tiles, which happened to be the events of 911 that occurred while he was in his residency at Kohler. Being raised in Brooklyn, NY, Zagar was heavily influenced by the tragedy, and his tiles include images of airplanes and buildings. Samantha continued the discussion with the group on different ways individuals deal with grief and trauma – through art, reading, exercise, or even just slowing down.

Slow Art Day participants looking slowly at Isaiah Zagar’s large Kohler tiles. Photo by Ashley Moran.
Large Tile Mosaics with Airplane Motifs by Isaiah Zagar. Photo by Ashley Moran.

Large Tile Mosaics with Airplane Motifs by Isaiah Zagar. Photo by Ashley Moran.

I had the pleasure of attending this Slow Art Day event, and it was eye opening. Even though I know that slowing down helps you see things that you are otherwise blind to, and even though I’m a longtime Slow Art Day volunteer who teaches many others about the power of slowing down to really see, I was still surprised by how much I saw that I had never seen before on multiple previous visits to The Magic Gardens. This is why Slow Art Day is an experiential program, and not primarily a theoretical one. You can understand the theory behind slow looking, but that doesn’t mean that you can see until you really slow down.

Ashley Moran, Slow Art Day Editor, immersing in the mosaicked space.

It truly is amazing what you can experience if you take the time to slow down.

We at Slow Art Day HQ look forward to visiting Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens while on our tour this summer of NYC and Philadelphia, and we can’t wait to see what they share for Slow Art Day 2023.

Ashley

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.