Looking, Writing, Making, and Mindfulness at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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.

Printed Textile Swatch (detail), 1935–59, made by Soieries F. Ducharne
Printed Textile Swatch (detail), 1935–59, made by Soieries F. Ducharne (France, 1920–1972), 2014-144-190a. Picture used to advertise the Slow Art Day event on the Philadephia Museum of Art website in April.

The virtual event consisted of four separate Zoom sessions focused on slow looking, writing, making, and mindfulness.

Slow Looking

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.

Detail of Antoine Berjon, 1819.
Still Life with Flowers, Shells, a Shark’s Head, and Petrifications. Oil on canvas, 42 1/2 × 34 9/16 inches (108 × 87.8 cm) [from the Slow Looking Zoom session hosted by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2021]

Slow Making

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.

Participants engaging with art during the Slow Making workshop

Slow Writing

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.

Portraits from the exhibition Painting Identity

Museum Mindfulness’

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.”

Participant’s quote

“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.

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

Philadelphia Slows Down to Reveal the Magic of Mosaic

For Slow Art Day 2019 Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens’ Garden Guide Rob led a group of 15 people in a slow-looking activity focusing on a portion of the beautiful mosaic that encompasses the entire folk art environment and gallery space on South Street in Philadelphia.

Portion of mosaic wall by Isaiah Zagar, Philadelphia Magic Gardens

After slowly taking in all the details of the portion Rob had chosen, the guests then shared what they saw including certain tiles and shapes that are typically overlooked. That was their first discovery of the day: slow looking can make the invisible visible (and cause participants to wonder at how much we humans do not see unless we slow down). Rob also pointed out and gave background on additional often-unseen elements.

Their second and, perhaps, biggest discovery of the day – the “aha” moment – came when the participants realized that through their slow looking in the mirror pieces they themselves had become part of the mosaic. 

We look forward to the Philadelphia Magic Gardens Slow Art Day 2020.

– 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

Philadelphia Museums’ Plea to Visitors: Slow Down!

The Philadelphia Enquirer / The Barnes Foundation

“Come to a gallery, sit with it for a while, absorb the works there. It’s like listening to a great piece of music. Looking at a really good work of art over and over again, you begin to see it differently.”

Excellent advice from William Perthes, senior instructor at The Barnes Foundation, in the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s great article on Slow Art Day at Philadelphia museums. In addition to the Barnes, The Fabric Workshop and Museum and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens are also hosting events this Saturday!

Read the full article here.