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

Philadelphia Museum of Art Combines Poetry, Music, and Visual Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art creatively integrated music and poetry with their 2019 Slow Art Day in celebration of National Poetry Month. 

“Since poems slow us down to consider individual words, phrases, and the structure of language, we thought this would be a great way to encourage slow looking,” said Greg Stuart, Museum Educator and Public Programs Coordinator.

Slow Art Day participants were asked to focus on a single work of art for 45 minutes while experiencing an in-gallery music performance. They were then also encouraged to participate in poetry writing workshops and a bookmaking program.

Candy Alexandra Gonzalez, a local poet and visual artist, encouraged participants to create a collaborative book by writing and drawing about things in their lives that they wished moved at a slower pace.

Collaborative book created by Slow Art Day participants.

One visitor said: 

“This was great for me and my eight year old daughter. It helped us look at the art more closely and talk about it together. Thank you!”

We couldn’t be happier to hear of such a successful multimedia, multi-sensory Slow Art Day, and look forward to what the Philadelphia Art Museum creates for Slow Art Day 2020.

Ashley

Cincinnati Slow Art Day Engages All Senses

Cincinnati Art Museum’s 7th Slow Art Day engaged five senses as the museum staff creatively combined scents, food, music, touchable objects, and color filters to enhance the overall experience.

Visitors mimicking brushstrokes within the artwork

Sara Birkofer, Cincinnati Art Museum’s Manager of Accessibility & Gallery Programs, recently led a Slow Art Day webinar on designing multi-sensory visitor experiences

In the webinar, Sara spoke about how engaging all the senses helps participants look at art in a new way, and how it brings a pleasant and unexpected element to the visitor experience.

We look forward to Cincinnati Art Museum’s continued leadership and creative design for their Slow Art Day in 2020!

Ashley

Multi-sensory Slow Art Day at BOZAR

BOZAR Center of Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium hosted participants ages 10 to 70 in their multi-sensory 4th annual Slow Art Day in 2019.

Attendees focused on the exhibition Bernard van Orley: Brussels and the Renaissance, where they meditated in front of the rich landscapes within Bernard van Orley’s tapestries while listening to polyphonic renaissance music. Visitors also looked at portraits of the powerful but tragic Margaret of Austria while listening to her life story.

Participants reportedly went home with peaceful smiles.

We love to hear of such creative Slow Art Days, and look forward to BOZAR’s participation in 2020.

Ashley

Multi-Sensory, Multi-Faceted Event at Byron School of Art

For their first Slow Art Day, the Byron School of Art Project Space in Mullumbimby – a small Australian town well-known for its artist colony – combined several multi-sensory activities along with food and yoga.

They started Slow Art Day with an artist talk by Marlene Sarroff whose exhibition 365 Days: You Get What You Choose is a meditation on everyday practice. Marlene spoke about her long history of working and exhibiting in artist-run spaces, about finding materials whilst not seeking them, and also about being awake to possibility.  

Marlene Sarroff speaking about 365 Days: You Get What You Choose   

After Marlene’s talk, participants began something organizers called The Slow Art Challenge. The challenge started with five minutes of silent looking at one artwork, then followed that with a group discussion. Next, participants took a few moments to enjoy cups of tea together, and then reconvened in pairs to observe a second chosen work in silence. For the final segment, they listened to music while looking at another artwork, and then held another discussion after that multi-sensory experience.

Artist Marlene Sarroff participating in Slow Art Day

And as if this were not enough, their Slow Art Day finished with an evening Slow Flow Yoga Class led by yoga instructor Shien Chee from Seeker + Kind yoga studio, their neighbor two doors down. Chee and Meredith Cusack, BSA Project Space Coordinator, wanted to integrate yoga, sound, smells, and sight. They came up with the idea of using the art as a way to talk about drishti (gaze point). As a result, Chee built her class around changing drishti – looking at different works, but also from different positions, and heights. Wow.

Instructor Shien Chee from Seeker + Kind Yoga Studio leading participants in Slow Flow Yoga Class

The Byron School of Art Project Space had such a good – and creative – first Slow Art Day that participants asked if they would do the exercises for other exhibitions, which they plan to do. They also look forward to participating in Slow Art Day 2020 and we look forward to having them back. They are a wonderful addition to the global slow looking movement.

Ashley

Multi-sensory Slow Art Day in New Brunswick

AX, the Arts and Culture Centre of Sussex in New Brunswick, Canada, held a multi-sensory Slow Art Day 2019 led by artist Deanna Musgrave, who had recently researched and written her Master’s thesis on multi-sensory art experiences.

Musgrave, whose own art was being shown, began by guiding the participants through a relaxation exercise, using sound and voice commands to invite the audience to achieve a trance-like state. She then focused on three pieces of work and encouraged viewers to experience tastes (wine, chocolate, peaches), smell (wine and peppermint), and sounds (recorded instruments) paired with each piece.

According to AX, audience members, ranging in age from 8 to 70, said that the slow multi-sensory session really enhanced their experience.

In other good news, Bonny Hill, Exhibitions Committee Chair at AX said they recently applied for and were awarded a grant to curate and host an exhibition of artists who work in the “slow art” style, using outdated technology and painstaking methods to create contemporary work. That exhibition will launch in early 2020, and perhaps be the focus of their Slow Art Day 2020.

Phil