Toronto’s Gardiner Museum Explores Social, Political, & Environmental Themes

Earlier this year, the Gardiner Museum, Canada’s ceramics museum, hosted a Slow Art Day event focusing on the social, political, and environmental themes explored in the exhibition Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me. Education Manager, Farrukh Rafiq, guided attendees in slow looking activities and engaged them in a discussion about the works on display.

Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me

As a multi-sensory installation, Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me explores how we see ourselves and each other through drawings, ceramic sculpture, life-sized automatons, two-way mirrors, coin-operated sculpture, and an interactive score.

More information about the exhibit and the Gardiner Museum can be found on the links above and via their social media pages: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This is the third year that Toronto’s Gardiner Museum has held a slow art event and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.

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

Mindful Art at Musée des Beaux Arts d’Orléans in Orléans, France

For their first Slow Art Day, Mindful Art hosted two days of mindfulness and slow looking at the Musée des Beaux Arts d’Orléans in Orléans, France. Organizer Marjan Abadie led the hybrid in-person and online event, which had 129 participants in total.

The Mindful Art Experience is an initiative by the Mindfulness Institute in Brussels, Belgium. Below is a website banner they used to promote the event.

Marjan Abadie leading participants through slow looking. CREDIT: Marjan Abadie
Slow Art Day participants. CREDIT: Marjan Abadie

We look forward to what Marjan Abadie comes up with for Slow Art Day 2023.

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

Slow Art Day at Nashville Parthenon

On the 2nd of April, the Nashville Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee, celebrated their first Slow Art Day with a variety of in-person activities.

For the event, they organized four art talks with Acting Curator Jennifer Richardson who helped participants look slowly and explore paintings while also facilitating discussions using Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS).

Acting Curator Jennifer Richardson in the Cowan Gallery – Picture taken from website

Richardson alternated talks/slow looking with other activities.

For example, docents encouraged participants to take part in their Cowan Challenge: a slow looking, detail-finding game with paintings from their Cowan Collection, which includes art works that range from the 18th-20th centuries, to contemporary pieces from their Red Arrow – Show Up! past exhibition.

They also held an Achitecture Tour to look slowly at the building and, separately, organized a Kidsville event, where children, families, and adults could read a book with Imagination Library and create art inspired by it. To make everything even more inclusive, they also set up a Quiet Area for participants to enjoy art books in their specific designated area.

The event was a success, with 1,867 visitors and 242 recorded contacts many of whom admitted to being surprised by discovering how much they could really see thanks to the art of slowing down.

At Slow Art Day HQ we are glad to welcome Nashville Parthenon to our movement and look forward to what they come up with in April 2023!

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

7th Slow Art Day at Hofstra University Museum of Art

For their 7th Slow Art Day held April of 2022, Hofstra University Museum of Art in Hempstead, New York held an in-person event focused on works of art in their “Drawing Matters” exhibition, which included works from the museum’s collection of botanical and scientific illustrations, as well as engineering and architectural drawings.

Museum Director Karen Albert led slow looking and drawing exercises throughout the 2-hour event, which was limited to 15 attendees.

Slow Art Day Participants
Slow Art Day Participants

Below is the flyer used to promote the event:

Hofstra, which uses slow-looking techniques throughout the year during their classes, brought a light touch to the program (i.e., less lecture and more looking), which is what we love to see.

You can visit them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin, and learn more about their classes, which are provided to elementary, secondary, and university students, as well as teachers and others.

We look forward to what the Hofstra Museum of Art comes up with for their 8th Slow Art Day in 2023.

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

Delving into the Down North Exhibition at Portland Museum of Art

For its fifth Slow Art Day, Portland Museum of Art delved into three works from Down North: The North Atlantic Triennial. This exhibition was co-organized by the Portland Museum of Art, the Reykjavík Art Museum, Iceland, and the Bildmuseet, Sweden; it is the first exhibition devoted entirely to contemporary art of the North Atlantic region.

Participants joined Christian Adame, Peggy L. Osher Director of Learning and Community Collaboration, to look in-person with intention and attention at three works of art (pictured below) for a total of 90 minutes.

Lauren Fensterstock (United States, born 1975), The Order of Things, 2016, mixed media with shells, overall: 78 x 240 x 26 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Claire Oliver Gallery, NY. © Lauren Fensterstock

Bita Razavi (Finland/Estonia, born 1983), Gameplay video filmed in The Hunter: Call of the Wild from the series The Dog Days Will Soon Be Over, 2019, sound; HD video, 16:9, 5 minutes 39 seconds (loop), musical score by Svetlana Maraš. Courtesy of the artist. © Bita Razavi

Anders Sunna (Sápmi, born 1985) Torne STYX, 2021, paint and collage on wood, 48 x 88 13/64 x 5/32 inches. Courtesy of the artist. © Anders Sunna. Photographs by Piera Niilá Stålka

More information, including a video of the exhibition, can be found here. Be sure to explore the entire page as the selected works featured online are striking and evocative. Portland Art Museum also holds slow looking events throughout the year on an intermittent basis. Information on those events, and when they will be held, can be found on their calendar.

Portland Museum of Art can be found on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, and Soundcloud.

We can’t wait to see what PMA does for 2023!

-Robin, Ashley, Phyl, Johanna, and Jessica Jane.

P.S. We want to recognize the long-time leadership of Christian Adame who first hosted Slow Art Day at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento in 2013. When he later moved to the Phoenix Art Museum he brought it there, and then, more recently, when he was hired by the Portland Museum of Art he again brought Slow Art Day with him. Christian is the pied-piper of our movement.

Slow Art Day at Sint Pauluskerk in Antwerp

On April 2, 2022, Sint Pauluskerk in Antwerp, Belgium held their fifth Slow Art Day – bringing together about 500 people for an in-person event in their Calvary Garden.

Calvary Garden, Saint Paul’s Antwerp, Belgium – credit Sint-Pauluskerk Antwerpen
Calvary Garden, Saint Paul’s Antwerp, Belgium – credit Sint-Pauluskerk Antwerpen

The garden, populated by prophets and saints and sheltered by the church wall and private home, contains 64 statues and architecture that dates from the 1700s.

It is a place of reflection, an oasis of peace in the center of the busy port city, and as such a perfect spot for a Slow Art Day.

For this fifth Slow Art Day, they had volunteers (“St. Paul’s friends”) in the Garden to help answer questions and guide participants. Importantly, they also made the Garden free of charge from 2pm to 5pm on Slow Art Day, helping to welcome hundreds of people into this outdoor art-filled sanctuary.

As noted, their in-person afternoon was very well attended.

Additionally, they generated great online engagement including hundreds of Facebook and Instagram likes.

Saint Paul’s Antwerp, Belgium, guide Leo Vereecken during Slow Art Day 2022, credit Sint-Pauluskerk Antwerpen
Saint Paul’s Antwerp, Belgium, guide Leo Vereecken during Slow Art Day 2022, credit Sint-Pauluskerk Antwerpen

We must admit that we are big fans of the team at Sint Pauluskerk. They are an inspiration to all of us around the world who care about building this movement based on slow looking, reflection, and love.

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

P.S. Please help us welcome a new Slow Art Day volunteer, Robin Cerio. Robin has a Master’s in art history, has worked in museums, and is going to help us with our big backlog of 2022 reports. In fact, she drafted this report. Welcome, Robin!

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