For their 7th Slow Art day, the Harn Museum of Art, located on the campus of The University of Florida in Gainsville, featured 5 artworks from their collection, including:
– Dogon Couple, by Kehinde Wiley – Northeast Gorge at Appledore, by Childe Hassam – Pli Selon Pli, by Akiyama Yo – Waiting for the Signal, by Robert Fichter – Horizontal Mask (korubla), by a Senufo artist
Host Allysa Peyton, Curator and Student Engagement Manager, and a group of University of Florida student ambassadors greeted participants with a flier that spelled out instructions, featured art works, and space to draw or take notes (see below).
The Harn instructed attendees to spend 10-12 minutes with each of the five featured artworks and encouraged them to not only draw or make notes, but also to reflect on the experience of looking slowly – and how what they see in the art may change over time.
After the slow looking session, everyone then gathered for tea, cookies, and discussion.
Educators and curators in the slow looking movement should take a look at their simple flyer (attached above) and consider copying elements of their approach for future sessions.
The Harn Museum of Art has also launched a year-round program Art & Mindfulness, which incorporates slow looking and guided meditations in 40-minute workshops.
We at Slow Art Day HQ like the incorporation of drawing and notes – and especially appreciate the cookies and tea (yum, yum) at the end – and we look forward to seeing what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2023.
The Frederiksberg Museums, located in Denmark near Copenhagen, are a group of four museums: Bakkehuset, Storm, Møstings and Cisternerne, all within walking distance of each other – and all participated in Slow Art Day.
Here at Slow Art Day HQ we wish we could have participated in this interesting exhibit.
The way it worked was eight people sat down around a table that had a wooden ball that rolled on a track, eventually stopping in front of a letter. The letter corresponded to cabinets and texts around the room that then formed the framework for a slow conversation. Once the conversation finished, they rolled the ball again spurring yet another slow dialogue. Very cool way of choosing a piece of art (or artifacts).
At the nearby Storm museum, Slow Art Day participants were invited to participate in the study of Danish humor and satire through the work of Robert Storm Peterson, also known as Storm P.
In addition to these two in-person events, five guided Slow Looking videos were featured on the Frederiksberg Museums’ YouTube channel.
You can view them (in Danish) below:
The Frederiksberg Museums host slow looking events twice a week in one of their four venues throughout the year.
They also have some really interesting things planned:
Podcast They are launching a podcast later this year that will focus on mindful Slow Looking.
Mental Health They also plan to integrate Slow Looking into their art and health programs for the mentally vulnerable.
We are glad that the Frederiksberg Museums have brought their collective expertise and creativity to the slow art movement and look forward to their podcast, mental health programs, and design of their 2023 Slow Art Day.
Singaporean gallery ARTualize participated in their 2nd Slow Art Day by offering their year-long Mindfulness with Paintings class for free on the day of the event, and throughout April. Sok Leng, museum instructor, guided participants to look mindfully and slowly at the painting “By the River Seine” by established Singapore artist Low Hai Hong. They then had a discussion about the feelings the painting conjured up.
“Looking at paintings slowly gave me a deeper appreciation of the painting and a better understanding of myself through the art.”
Michelle, Slow Art Day Participant
ARTualize’s Slow Art Day event was also featured on Singapore’s main news broadcast channel Chinese Mediacorp Channel 8 News a few weeks after the event, and was the first time Slow Art has been featured on Singapore TV.
1 – Concept – Introduce mindfulness and basic mindfulness techniques.
2 – Practice – Look at selected paintings slowly and mindfully (at least 1 minute for each painting).
3 – Discussion – Reflect upon the experience and realize how different paintings (and for that matter, life in general) feel, when we are mindful and when we take our time to slowly savour.
When we originally launched Slow Art Day in 2010, we wanted, in part, to inspire museums to produce year-round slow looking programming – and that has happened. In fact, slow looking programming has become so mainstream that ARTualize began slow looking sessions *before* they later joined Slow Art Day. We love this development!
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?
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.
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, 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.
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 7th Slow Art Day on April 10th, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto, one of Canada’s largest art museums, shared a video and five artworks from their collection to their social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
A couple of days before the event, AGO uploaded a slow looking video featuring Clarence Alphonse Gagnon’s ‘Study of a Hare in Winter’ (1922), with a slow looking and mindfulness exercise guided by Melissa Smith, Assistant Curator of Community Programs.
On the actual day of the event, participants were then invited to focus on each of these five artworks for 10 minutes:
Kazuo Nakamura, Blue Reflections, 1962
Abraham Anghik Ruben, Sedna, c.1990
Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior with Four Etchings, 1904
Julie Mehretu, Algorithms, Apparitions and Translations, 2013
Christi Belcourt, Wisdom of the Universe. 2014
They were also encouraged to leave comments under each image.
Below are images of the artworks, which we encourage you to experience slowly using the AGO’s prompts that follow.
Prompts for Kazuo Nakamura
For this Kazuo Nakamura piece don’t just look slowly, look closely. See how subtly the colours change. Pay attention to how the gradual shifts in brushstrokes give a sense of movement to the landscape. What do you notice about how the brushstrokes are applied? Each and every brushstroke is calculated and purposefully applied. Nakamura is best known for this analytical approach in his paintings, and in his later works, he was influenced by mathematics and scientific theories. He sought to discover a universal pattern in art and nature. What do you think this universal pattern would look like? Do you prefer an analytical approach or a more gestural one?
Prompts for Abraham Anghik Ruben
Abraham Anghik Ruben is a storyteller and tells his stories through the medium of sculpture. His sculptures often tell the legends, myths, and spiritual traditions of the Inuit people and the Arctic land. A recurring figure in Ruben’s works is the Inuit Sea Goddess, Sedna. Look at how her hair dramatically but gracefully arches up behind her like it is flowing with the movement of water. Notice how her eyes stand out from the rest of the sculpture, and how she clutches her hands close to her torso. What do her expression and her posture suggest? What is the message Ruben is trying to share?
Prompts for Vilhelm Hammershøi
Looking for a little calm and quiet? Come and join us in Vilhelm Hammershøi’s “Interior with Four Etchings”. A muted scene in both colour and sound, we invite you to hush the world around you as you spend some time with this piece. The female figure is the artist’s wife, Ida. Since she has her back to us, we cannot read her expression. But because she is turned away, we can enter and explore this private space freely. Take a look around. Notice how the light softly enters from the left, creating reflections on surfaces and depth in the space. Where do your eyes go? To the items on the table? To the etchings on the wall? What are the etchings of? Look closely because there are details here that could have easily escaped you before.
Prompts for Julie Mehretu
There’s no piece quite like this Julie Mehretu that demonstrates the importance of an unhurried and patient approach to art. Mehretu is inspired by landscapes, cities, and human activity within nature. Particularly interested in layered imagery, Mehretu’s printmaking technique requires her to slow down as she layers line upon line to create this surreal landscape. Take a look, what do you see? Now, look closer. Even closer. The closer you look the more details you’ll see. The larger narrative will begin to fall apart, revealing various smaller narratives beneath. Just as the piece evolves with each of Mehretu’s lines, your experience of this work will also evolve over time. So, go on. Look again.
Prompts for Christi Belcourt
Ten minutes is hardly enough time to contemplate the wisdom of the universe, both the concept and this piece by Metis artist Christi Belcourt. Take your time to really explore this piece. What type of birds do you see? What type of flowers and vegetation can you recognize? Imagine yourself in this space. Move through the branches and notice the balance and harmony. Can you hear the sounds of the animals? Can you smell the flowers around you? See how everything is connected. This great network of life. Belcourt’s piece asks us to reflect upon the well-being of all living species on this earth, as the current climate crisis affects us all. Take a deep breath, and surround yourself with the wisdom of the universe.
The event was well received, with 10,000+ likes and views on the AGO’s social media platforms.
Below are some great quotes form participants:
This is my favourite painting at the AGO! I always spend a long time in front of it and always pick up something new each visit.
Participant’s comment under Nakamura’s painting – Instagram
Love this idea!!
Participant’s comment on Instagram
We appreciate the Art Gallery of Ontario’s thoughtful design for this multi-day virtual event, and look forward to what they come up with for Slow Art Day in 2022.
For their 6th Slow Art Day, the Foto Museum (FOMU), in Antwerp, Belgium, organized four virtual slow looking sessions featuring two photographs:
Lynne Cohen, Recording Studio, 1987.
Martine Franck, Quartier de Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne, Royaume-Uni, 1977.
Each virtual session opened with a warm welcome from a guide, and introductions from participants.
Without giving any details of the photographs, the guide shared each one and invited participants to look slowly and freely discuss their thoughts.
At the end of the session, all participants were guided through a mindful full-body check to reconnect to their physical surroundings.
The participants enjoyed the slow looking and were eager to share their reflections, both about the pictures and the sessions.
“It’s a nice way to interact with strangers.”
“I was surprised that the time went by so quickly!”
“Nice food for thought with lots of different perspectives.”
At Slow Art Day HQ we are really impressed with FOMU’s commitment to hosting not one – but four – sessions in one day. Bookending each event with an introduction round and a mindful cooling-down activity is a great structure that we hope other museums adopt for a future Slow Art Day.
We look forward to what FOMU comes up with for their 7th Slow Art Day in 2022.