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.




Jigsaws and Meditative Drawing with the Georgia Museum of Art

For their 5th Slow Art Day, the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, Georgia, combined two meditative art techniques by artist Anna Bogatin Ott: Slow Looking and Slow Drawing.

Slow Looking

For the slow looking activity, participants were invited to look closely at the painting Aurora by Anna Bogatin Ott, and were guided by prompts via a PDF file, such as:

  • “How do the repetitive marks guide your gaze around the painting?”
  • “Imagine the painting so far away it becomes a speck, then zoom in so close that it’s touching your nose.”
Anna Bogatin Ott (American, b. Ukraine 1970), Aurora (River Wanderings 7714), 2014 – 15. Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches (122 x 122 centimeters). Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of the artist, GMOA 2017.34.

Since Ott’s art is inspired by nature, participants were also encouraged to reflect on similarities between the colors of the painting and nature.

“I engage all my senses, dissolve into surrounding sounds, become immersed in the nature’s logic of being, and then, from memory, I recreate my experiences in drawings and paintings.”

Anna Bogatin Ott

Slow Drawing

For the slow drawing part of the event, participants were encouraged to draw horizontal lines while trying to stay in touch with their physical sensations focusing attention on the sound of their breath, the feel of the texture of the paper, and the visual effect of negative and positive space between the lines. The activity became a mindful way of remaining present through a multi-sensory art experience.

Slow Drawing Instructions (PDF) for Slow Art Day, 2020, by The Georgia Museum of Art.

Pre-event Virtual Jigsaw Puzzle

Leading up to the main event, the museum shared a virtual interactive jigsaw puzzle of their featured painting to their Facebook page. Several participants completed the jigsaw, and the post reached 647 readers.

Virtual jigsaw of Anna Bogatin Ott’s Aurora, available: www.jigsawplanet.com. Courtsey of The Georgia Museum of Art. Screenshot by Johanna.

Without being formally promoted, their event was a social media success with over 2000 Instagram impressions and 185 Facebook interactions.

The Slow Art Day HQ team has loved participating in these mindful activities. They made us feel centered and at peace, which is a big part of what Slow Art Day is all about.

We look forward to seeing more of The Georgia Museum of Art’s immersive events – hopefully for Slow Art Day 2021.

-Johanna and Ashley

Virtual Mosaic Murals with Philadephia’s Magic Gardens

For its 4th Slow Art Day, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens hosted its first virtual event with an interactive online map of mosaic murals by founding artist Isaiah Zagar. During the event, they shared photos on their Facebook page of three murals located in close proximity to each other in South Philadelphia. They urged attendees to either look at the photos online, or, if possible, walk over to them and view them in real space (Note: all murals are public and thereby easy to view without violating quarantine).

Isaiah Zagar, view of mural on 1313 S. 8th Street. Photo courtsey of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
Isaiah Zagar, view of mural on 836 Sears Street. Photo courtsey of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
Isaiah Zagar, view of mural on 1328 S. 8th Street. Photo courtsey of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

Guided by prompts, participants were encouraged to send their thoughts about the murals to Allison Boyle, Events & Marketing Manager at Philly’s Magic Gardens, who was available online during the event to answer questions.

Alissa Giangiulio, one of the event participants, said that she could see some of the artist Isaiah Zagar himself in the mural on 1328 S. 8th Street (pictured above), and commented that:

“Art makes love go around, especially in a close knit city community!”

People participated during Slow Art Day and in the days that followed. Further, the Facebook post itself was viewed by over 4000 people and received 150 likes, comments, and shares. According to Allison, this was a stronger response than typical.

At Slow Art Day HQ we are firm admirers of Philly’s Magic Gardens, and love the ways that Zagar’s murals encourage people to stop and reflect in the streets (and on online).

When Slow Art Day started 10 years ago, we were happy to use the Internet primarily to promote Slow Art Day and send more people into real spaces. Despite having to shift more online this year due to Covid19, we have loved how museums and galleries like Philly’s Magic Gardens have pivoted to creating virtual experiences (or, in this case combination virtual and physical).

We look forward to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens Slow Art Day participation in 2021.

-Johanna and Ashley

Drinks & Art for ArtemisSF’s 2nd Slow Art Day

ArtemisSF in San Francisco, California hosted its second Slow Art Day as a virtual event with a focus on the sense of taste (with some drinks to add a little zest).

Their event Ekphrastic Edibles, designed by Ammala Lacroix, re-interpreted two artworks by Maritza Ruiz-Kim as drinks that participants could make at home:

1 – Progress #15 interpreted as Matcha Lemonade: ‘Misterios con Matcha’

2 – Warmer interpreted as Hibiscus Ginger Mocktail: ‘Jamaica Haven’

Participants were provided with written explanations to illustrate the connection between the art and drinks, and were guided through each recipe to make the drinks themselves.

In her description of Progress #15, Ammala Lacroix writes that Ruiz-Kim’s juxtapositioning of coloured triangles highlights “the irony of differentiation”.

Maritza Ruiz-Kim, Progress #15, 6” x 6”, acrylic on panel, 2017, courtesy of the artist.

This theme was reflected in the different states of the lemon in the ‘Misterios con Matcha’ drink (liquid, solid and frozen). “Despite being presented in differing states,” Lacroix writes, “at the end of the day, a lemon remains a lemon”.

‘Misterios con Matcha’ (Matcha Lemonade), Response to Maritza Ruiz-Kim’s Progress #15, ArtemisSF, Photo: Ammala Lacroix

On the other hand, Ruiz-Kim’s Warmer explores the theme of reconciling the divide between past and present through an edited collage of digitally layered pictures taken by the artist’s paternal grandfather in New Mexico. Lacroix writes, “Maritza Ruiz-Kim tells the story of her family by creating soft pink landscapes informed by the past but seen through new eyes.”

Maritza Ruiz-Kim, Warmer, 14” x 16”, Digital C-print, 2019, courtesy the artist.

The ‘Jamaica Haven’ drink connects to the artwork Warmer through its colors and inclusion of traditional Mexican ingredients like hibiscus.

‘Jamaica Haven’ (Hibiscus Ginger Mocktail), Response to Maritza Ruiz-Kim’s Warmer, ArtemisSF, Photo: Ammala Lacroix

The event had 25 participants on Slow Art Day itself and received strongly positive feedback. It has since been viewed by over 60 participants asynchronously.

Participant Torange Yeghiazarian, Founding Artistic Director at Golden Thread Productions, said that she “loved the drink recipes” and appreciated learning about their inspiration from Ruiz-Kim’s art. Patty Tsai, Senior Associate Director at Columbia Alumni Association Arts Access also loved it and hoped to promote it to her group.

On April 26th, ArtemisSF also hosted additional virtual ‘see’ and ‘hear’ events involving activities such as a Zoom poetry reading in connection with the ‘taste’ event for Slow Art Day. Invitations for all events were designed by Ruiz-Kim.

At Slow Art Day HQ we love seeing such a beautiful focus on the senses in connection with virtual art, and very much look forward to ArtemisSF’s continued creativity and participation next year.

-Johanna

The Power Plant Hosts Fourth Slow Art Day, Virtually

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto, Canada hosted its fourth Slow Art Day this year – and its first virtual slow looking event given Covid-19.

The virtual event highlighted four artworks from the Winter 2020 exhibitions:

God’s Reptilian Finger by Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa
Cacaxte no. 2 (Sarvelia) by Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa
Spectre (La Teleferica) by Dawit L. Petros
Anxious Audience by Rashid Johnson

Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, ​God’s Reptilian Finger​, 2015-20. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.
Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Cacaxte no. 2 (Sarvelia), 2020. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.
Dawit L. Petros, Spectre (La Teleferica), 2020. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.
Rashid Johnson, Untitled (Anxious Audience), 2016. Courtesy of artist, Hauser & Wirth and David Kordansky Gallery. Photo: Martin Parsekian.

Laura Demers, TD Curator of Education and Outreach Fellow, wrote a series of prompts that were posted online, alongside close-up photos highlighting specific details in the four artworks. Viewers across the globe were invited to respond to these prompts, either by sharing their impressions in writing (stories, lists, poems, short paragraphs, or social media comments) or by engaging in small multi-sensory activities at home.

The downloadable PDF from the event is permanently posted on their website for participants to continue to use at their own pace. 

Laura mentioned that the event was so well received that it produced over 350 new Instagram followers, and thousands of likes from the community across all of their social media accounts.

Josh Heuman, Curator of Education & Public Programs at The Power Plant, writes that:

“In little ways, this COVID-19 pandemic is pushing us to re-think how we might use online platforms to think beyond the four walls of The Power Plant.”

We are encouraged by the creative responses to the challenge of hosting virtual events during these difficult times, and look forward to The Power Plant’s continued participation in 2021.

– Johanna and Ashley

Slow Art Day 2019 Annual Report

As we prepare for Slow Art Day 2020, we have finished our 2019 report with host summaries from around the world.

If you would like to review the full report, you can
download it here (PDF – 14MB).

Highlights 

  • SFMOMA hosted a ticketed lunch and slow viewing session, which sold out 
  • Chicago Art Institute trained young people to be docents for Slow Art Day engaging young people in a new way that gives them ownership over the experience 
  • Brazil’s largest foundation of contemporary art, Inhotim, hosted its first Slow Art Day 
  • Toronto hosted more Slow Art Day events than any city around the world 
  • Many venues held daylong events with food, music, dancing, and lots of slow viewing (check out this video from Ur Mara Museoa in the Basque country
  • Multi-sensory sessions took off around the world (close to 25% of reporting museums did some multi-sensory work, as you can see below) 
  • Phil Terry, Founder, delivered a keynote about Slow Art Day at a Toronto inclusive design conference  
  • Phil and the team started visiting cities (Toronto and Philadelphia to begin with) to bring together educators and curators to strengthen the community and share best practices 

We also continued to receive great press attention including from The BBCThe Art NewspaperSmithsonian Magazine, and many local and regional offline and online newspapers, radio, and television. 

Again, to read the full report including summaries from around the world, download our 2019 Annual Report here (PDF-14MB).

We look forward to celebrating our 10th anniversary with you in 2020. Thank you for all you have done to make possible the 1,500 total Slow Art Day events over the years on every continent and land mass except for Greenland (who is up for Greenland this year?). 

Best,  

Phil, Ashley, Maggie, Johanna and the whole Slow Art Day central volunteer team 

PS –

If you haven’t already, you can register for 2020 participation via this link: https://www.slowartday.com/be-a-host

Inhotim Brazil Slows Down for Art and Nature

2019 was the first year Slow Art Day came to Brazil’s largest foundation of contemporary art, Inhotim, which is also one of the largest outdoor art centers in Latin America. Located in Brumadinho (Minas Gerais), just 60 km (30 miles) away from Belo Horizonte, the Institute has a total area of 1942.25 acres in the biome of the Atlantic Forest.

Renan Zandomenico, educator and mediator, began the Slow Art Day experience in the central area of the Institute, where he says the memory of the past and the present combine in diverse species groups, and where the main tree, Enterolobium contortisiliquum, names the space.

After leaving the central area, the Slow Art Day visitors walked slowly over to their first artwork, Bisected triangle, Interior curve, 2002, by Dan Graham.

“Walking along the lakes slowly and seeing the integration of art and nature, we entered and stayed in Dan Graham’s Bisected triangle, Interior curve, 2002. Slowing down allowed us to experience how Graham’s distorted glass subverts the colors and shapes of the trees and buses and of the other artworks surrounding the area,” said Zandomenico (see photo below).

Slow Art Day 2019 participants looking out and through Dan Graham’s Bisected triangle, Interior curve, 2002 (photo by Daniela Paoliello)

The program continued by slowly entering nearby pavilions which house the works La intimidad de la luz en St Ives: Inhotim, 1997, by Argentine artist Victor Grippo, and Black ³, 2008, by North American artist Robert Irwin. In the pavilions, Zandomenico asked the participants to slow down and contemplate the nuances of light while also listening to the “breath of nature.”

They then went to their final artwork Im Here, But nothing, 2000, by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Her work allowed them to “pause and search for details and memories through the ultra-violet and domestic atmosphere” created by Kusama’s art.

They finished Slow Art Day in the garden with conversation and a breathing exercise next to the blue palm (Bismarckia nobilis). The participants talked about how slowing down surprised them and allowed them to see and be inspired by art and nature (and art in nature) in new ways.

Inhotim was clearly able to provide Slow Art Day 2019 participants with a powerful meditative and multi-sensory experience. We look forward to their 2020 participation.

– Ashley

Magaliesburg’s Multi-sensory Slow Art Day 2019

Gallery owner Hannelie Hartman welcomed participants of all ages to the third Slow Art Day at MelonRouge in Magaliesburg, South Africa.

The event was facilitated by Dr. Sonja Brink, a Learning through Play Ambassador for the Lego Foundation, who, when not involved in Slow Art Day, teaches the Setswana language to South African children and adults through song and movement.

Working with MelonRouge, she came up with a creative multi-sensory design that started with a brief talk on the link between art and information through the ages. She discussed ways to use art to cultivate focus and presence when feeling overwhelmed by technology overload (Ed: this is one of the key reasons Slow Art Day was started a decade ago – to create an antidote to technology’s growing dominance).

After Dr. Brink’s talk, participants were then blindfolded and given a fragrant piece of clay to smell and touch in order to kickstart their senses for the multi-sensory slow looking program they were about to experience.

Blindfolds were then removed and participants starting looking at a painting titled “Injasuthi Valley,” by artist Frances Wedepohl (below). As they slowly gazed, viewers were encouraged to touch and smell a variety of natural materials, including grasses and branches.

“Injasuthi Valley,” by artist Frances Wedepohl

Next, Dr. Brink brought the participants to slowly experience artwork by artist trio Louisa Staude, Louel Staude, and Heinz Schnölzer, titled “An Ode to Fynbos” (below). Visitors were invited to immerse themselves in the essence of this art through exploring the textures, smells and music composed specifically for the installation.

“An Ode to Fynbos” by artist trio Louisa and Louel Staude, and Heinz Schnölzer

Then, during the third viewing, participants were encouraged to taste a range of sweet, sour, and salty candies while slowly savoring artist Trevor Rose’s tryptic titled, “Life’s Journey” (below).

“Life’s Journey” by artist Trevor Rose

With the level of detail, playfulness, and creative multi-sensory focus, this Slow Art Day 2019 was a “resounding success”, with Dr. Brink noting that for both her and the participants “it was amazing!”

We look forward to whatever creative designs MelonRouge and Dr. Brink come up with for Slow Art Day 2020.

– Ashley

Insightful Day at Columbia Museum of Art

Slow Art Day 2019 at the Columbia Museum of Art attracted a small but very invested group of participants. At each stop along the way they experienced the art from a different perspective, whether a deep visual dive, a multi-sensory experience, or a complex conversation about the details within a piece.

The participant conversations were fruitful, and resulted in insights that the docents used in later tours.

We look forward to Columbia Museum of Art’s participation in 2020!

– Ashley

Successful First Slow Art Day for The Treasure Coast

The Treasure Coast Art Association in Fort Pierce, FL hosted their first Slow Art Day this year for the Fort Pierce Art Club members in the home of member Jeanne Johansen.

The morning started with the participants sketching an internationally trained nude model, and was followed by an afternoon exploring art club members’ paintings through various interactive techniques.

Jeanne reported that one of the most fun techniques was to have everyone sit with their backs to the paintings and attempt to draw them as participant Barry Levine described them out loud.

New member, Carol Merrett, engaged the group by asking them to guess what her paintings were before she unveiled her acrylic textured paintings.

Scott Serafica, an art teacher from Texas, brought a beautiful oil still life to be observed. The group paired the artwork with a cup of fragrant tea to complement the teapot in the painting, which engaged the groups sense of smell as they slowly observed it.

The Treasure Coast Art Association is planning their next Slow Art Day event with the Backus Museum in April 2020, and we look forward to hearing what they have in store for their second event.

– Ashley