For their fourth Slow Art Day, the Open-Air Museum Europos Parkas, in Vilinius, Lithuania, organized a plein-air slow looking session with their participants.
Europos Parkas is a 55 hectare (136 acre) open-air museum situated in the center of Europe that began as a relaxing place in the forest where artists, sculptors, and people around the world could meet, and eventually transformed into an open-air museum with modern sculptures and landscape art.
On the 15th of April, participants where invited to slowly experience three different sculptures:
“Gintarė/electricity” by Evaldas Pauza (Lithuania)
“Conjuror” by Magdalena Abakanowicz (Poland)
“Space of Unknown Growth” by Magdalena Abakanowicz (Poland)
Participants were encouraged to pay close attention to their breathing, all while taking note of the colors, sounds, and smells surrounding them – and even being blindfolded so they could focus on touch.
After the slow viewing, art facilitator Karen Vanhercke led a discussion encouraging participants to make mindful connections between themselves and the surrounding nature, art, and other participants. To make the event more inclusive, discussions were conducted in English with Lithuanian translation. Tea and biscuits were also served.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the creativity of the Europos Parkas team and look forward to seeing what they come up with in 2024.
For their second Slow Art Day, the Frederiksberg Museums in Frederiksberg, Denmark, held two guided slow looking events at Cisternerne (The Cisterns), an underground water reservoir that now hosts contemporary art exhibitions.
For their Slow Art Day event, Cecilie Monrad, Curator and Health Manager, and Thomas Riis Jensen, Coordinator of Exhibitions and Events, invited participants to engage their senses in a new way by experiencing South Korean artist Kimsooja’s Weaving the Light exhibition at the Cisternerne.
Before we describe what they did for Slow Art Day, we need to first explain the unique environment of the Cisternerne. It is a 4,400 square meter underground space that never sees daylight, where the humidity is close to 100%, and the temperature fluctuates between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (4 and 16 degrees Celsius). Sounds vibrate and echo throughout, and a slow surface drip of water creates stalactites on the walls and vaults.
For the Weaving the Light exhibition, Kimsooja transformed the darkness of Cisternerne into an installation of light and color by using diffraction grating film mounted on transparent panels. These let light pass through a microscopic surface of horizontal and vertical prisms, creating a spectacular array of light in the darkness.
The Slow Art Day event started above ground, where participants first got acclimated to the light, temperature and atmosphere outside. Next, they went down into the Cisternerne together, first spending a moment getting used to the darkness, and change in temperature and humidity. They then self-selected areas throughout the exhibition for a 30 minute slow looking session before heading back to the surface, where they shared observations and reflections from the experience.
The Cisternerne, which is actually one of four museums in The Frederiksberg Museum collection, hosts, along with the other museums, slow looking events throughout the year. This year, for example, the museum collective is leading a research program for young psychiatric users who will investigate slow looking as a component in the recovery process for people suffering from dementia, stress, or depression.
At Slow Art Day HQ we are impressed by the many ways the Frederiksberg Museums are creatively using slow looking in a number of different ways. In fact, we all want to go spend some time with them and think you should do the same.
We look forward to whatever they come up with for Slow Art Day 2024.
-Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, Phyl
P.S. Note that the Cisternerne is actually one of several museums in The Frederiksberg Museum collection, which also includes: – STORM – Museum of Humor and Satire – Bakkehuset – Museum of the Danish Golden Age – Møstings – Danish Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art
Ran Hee, the manager of the Choi Sunu House Memorial Museum in Seoul, Korea, hosted their (and Korea’s) first Slow Art Day on April 15 with the theme “Neurim & Nurim (느림 그리고 누림)”, which translates to “Slow and Enjoy”.
The event was jointly organized by the National Trust Cultural Heritage Foundation and Ewha Womans University Graduate School of Education participants majoring in art education, Kim Han-sol, Han Yu-jin, and Heo Bona.
Choi Sunu (1916~1984) was an eminent art historian and museum professional who served as the fourth director of the National Museum of Korea until his death. He devoted his life to define and propagate the beauty of Korean art and architecture through exhibitions and writings. The Choi Sunu House, where he lived from 1976 to 1984, is an expression of his aesthetics of simplicity and elegance, and has been open to the public since 2004.
Ran Hee and team created a three-part event:
First, curator Song Ji-young gave participants an introduction to Choi Sunu and his house.
Next, Bona Heo, Ewha Womans University graduate student, Yoo Jin-han, and Hansol Kim handed out question cards with prompts for slow looking (and talked about the slow looking movement).
Last, Professor Han Ju-yeon hosted a video viewing session and discussion with attendees (scroll down to see photos, as well as audio and video excerpts).
The hosts prepared a few memorable excerpts from Choi Sunu’s works alongside a video. Participants were also encouraged to write a short note on postcards about their experience.
Below are a few links to audio and text excerpts of Choi’s works (in Korean):
We at HQ are glad to welcome the first Korean museum to the slow art movement, and look forward to seeing what the Choi Sunu House designs for Slow Art Day 2024.
– Ashley, Johanna, Jessica Jane, and Phyl
P.S. You can also follow Choi Sunu House on Instagram.
Ur Mara Museoa, located in Gipuzkoa, Spain, held its seventh Slow Art Day this year.
This Basque museum has been a real leader in the slow looking movement showing all of us how to celebrate via daylong events that combine art, food, music, and dance (below is a video from 2019 showing one of their events).
For their third Slow Art Day, Europos Parkas, or the “Open-air Museum of the Center of Europe”, held an in-person event hosted by Lina Karosienė of the European Park, and Karen Vanhercke and Justina Kaminskaite of Easel World, an agency focused on connecting people through art.
Located in the geographical center of Europe, near Vilnius, Lithuania, the European Park is an outdoor museum of modern and contemporary art that has been operating since 1991.
Their Slow Art Day featured sculptural works by Marius Zavadskis and Adomas Jacovskis, seen below.
We love sculpture parks and would have enjoyed slowly walking around and inside some of these sculptures.
Participants of the Slow Art Day seemed to love it too – and reported that slowing down changed their relationship to the park and to the art. “Earlier I just saw this park as the place full of objects, and now I see the artworks in a whole new light,” said one. Yes!
The team at European Park also produces year-round Slow Art programming and has created a special route through the park that encourages participants to look at art (and nature) slowly.
This beautiful video in Lithuanian (below) on their YouTube channel gives an idea of how they have done this.
It’s great to have this central European art park participating, especially during this difficult time for the region. We look forward to seeing what they come up with for their fourth Slow Art Day.
For their fifth Slow Art Day, Wanås Konst, a sculpture park located in southern Sweden, offered a hybrid in-person and online experience focused on artist Katarina Löfström’s outdoor installation Open Source (Cinemaskope).
Katarina Löfström sees her works as paintings of light and movement. Open Source (Cinemaskope) consists of a screen made from sequins on a tall metal frame. This screen “reflects the surrounding nature and creates a continuous, transforming abstract film”. Read more about Katarina on Wanas Konst’s website.
Over a hundred visitors slowly looked at Löfström’s work, and host Erika Alm shared elements of the exhibit via Instagram, allowing for remote participation.
We at Slow Art Day HQ are really glad to have this museum, whose mission is to produce and communicate art that challenges and changes ways of seeing, involved in our global movement.
We can’t wait to see what they come up with for next year!
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 second Slow Art Day, The Eaton Gallery in Bloomington, Illinois, organized a “drive-by” exhibit in the Gallery’s window display, inviting the local community to slow down and enjoy floral still-life paintings by local artist Herb Eaton.
Pamela Eaton, Gallery owner, aims to make art more accessible in a relaxed setting, and provide a space to support local artists.
From the 10th to the 30th of April, the Gallery created a drive-by window exhibit for viewers to pause and look slowly at a selection of artworks. They were then invited to share their thoughts and reflections in a variety of ways: write a note and drop it in the Gallery’s mail slot, send an email, or leave a post on the Gallery’s Facebook page.
The exhibit got great press coverage from local news outlets, both last year and this year. An article by week.com includes a video interview with Pamela Eaton, where she explains that Slow Art Day is an opportunity for people to simultaneously develop an appreciation for art and local artists.
“We are so busy hurrying around. When you slow down and pay attention to your space and place you start to see more value in them. That’s probably one of the values of COVID, it’s slowed us all down.”
The Eaton Gallery received a lot of great feedback from participants:
Kind of makes you think of the beauty of life and the changes through the years. The petals are beautiful but life happens and the years change us, but the beauty still remains in our memories.
I drove by today, slowly passing by in my car to admire A Single Petal of a Rose which I love more and more each time I see it.
Walked by Saturday to enjoy the paintings in your window… peaceful and full of color.
Looking forward to coming inside and seeing more of the art and the space.
Brightened up my walk downtown.
The Eaton Gallery’s creative drive-by solution to sharing art with the local community during Covid19 has helped viewers and participants slow down and feel connected. At Slow Art Day HQ, we agree with Pamala Eaton: “When you slow down and pay attention to your space and place you start to see more value in them.”
We look forward to Eaton Gallery’s Slow Art Day in 2022.
The theme of spring was highlighted in two senses: through the season itself, portrayed in the paintings, and the concept of fresh beginnings.
Combining prompts for close looking and conversation, the discussion was designed to create a personal connection with the artworks while building a community among participants. Using the prompts, participants uncovered visual clues and provided their own ideas and insights to the discussion. Those that did not feel comfortable joining the group discussion were encouraged to write down or sketch their responses.
Participants were invited to continue exploring the artworks by visiting the Frye’s online collection database or by diving into a reading list provided by the King County Library System.
The event was attended by 25 participants, ranging in age from teens to older adults. Their feedback was positive.
“The class was interesting and enriching. It challenged me to look at the art in different ways. Appreciated the opportunity for people to share their thoughts and observations. What a great mental and visual break!! Thank you!” –
Caroline Byrd also found the event rewarding. We include her reflection on the event below.
Even I, as the facilitator, found new perspectives I had never thought about before! Thank you, as always, for allowing the Frye to be part of global Slow Art Day! Especially in these uncertain times, we look forward to the opportunity to slow down, look closely, and spend some time with a work of art.
Caroline Byrd, Education Coordinator, Frye Art Museum
At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the enthusiasm for slow looking that shows in every aspect of the event organized by Caroline Byrd. We want to thank Caroline and the Frye for being once again part of our global event and we are already excited about seeing what they come up with for 2022.