Gratitude and Mindfulness for FMoPA’s Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa, Florida, hosted an in-person event focused on mindfulness and gratitude.

Slow Art Day participants viewing the artwork by Paul Caponigro, Stream and Trees, Redding, Connecticut, 1967, Silver gelatin print, Collection of the Artist.

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?

Paul Caponigro, American, b. 1932, Stream and Trees, Redding, Connecticut, 1967, Silver gelatin print, Collection of the Artist.
David Dennard, American, b. 1954, Paul Caponigro, A Desert Father, Death Valley, 2020, Platinum-palladium print, Collection of the Artist.

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.

St. Albert’s Slow Art Day Support

The Art Gallery of St. Albert, Canada, pivoted their 2021 event at the last minute from planned in-person sessions to their social media pages and the Gallery’s virtual exhibitions. They did this because four days before Slow Art Day 2021, the Canadian provincial government announced further lockdowns.

Visitor engaging with art (used to promote Slow Art Day 2021 by the Art Gallery of St. Albert.)

The situation the Gallery faced is, of course, similar to what many other museums have had to contend with since this pandemic began in 2020. However, time after time, we have seen museum educators, directors, and curators rise to the challenge and connect people to each other and to art in new and creative ways.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that the Art Gallery of St. Albert decided to commemorate and promote slow looking despite not being able to host their event as planned. Leah Louden, Interim Director, said that they are already planning their Slow Art Day 2022.

To the staff at the Art Gallery of St. Albert, and all other museums and galleries that had planned events which did not go through — thank you for supporting Slow Art Day and your communities through these trying times.

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

PS. You can find out more about the Art Gallery of St. Albert here, on their IG, or Facebook Page.

We also recommend checking out one of their beautifully designed annual reports

Long Exposure: Slow Looking Photography at FOMU

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.
Recording Studio, 1987 © Lynne Cohen, Courtesy Rodolphe Janssen.
Quartier de Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne, Royaume-Uni, 1977© Martine Franck / Magnum Photos.

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.

Participants engaging with one of the photographs
Participants on Zoom

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.”

Participant’s quote

“I was surprised that the time went by so quickly!”

Participant’s quote

“Nice food for thought with lots of different perspectives.”

Participant’s quote

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.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

MOMus Thessaloniki Museum of Photography: At Home with Slow Art

For their second Slow Art Day the MOMus Thessaloniki Museum of Photography hosted two Zoom discussions on the themes of personal and public space and notions of “home”.

The virtual sessions took place on April 4th and 8th, 2020, and focused on slow looking at a selection of photographs from the Museum’s collection, including:

  • Panos Kokkinias’ ‘Smoke’ from the “Home” Series, 1994-1995.
  • Yiannis Stylianou, ‘Parade’, 1967.
Panos Kokkinias, ‘Smoke’ from the “Home” Series, 1994-1995.
Yiannis Stylianou, ‘Parade’, 1967.

Images of the photos were shared with participants the day before the event. On the day, after observing the photographs, participants shared opinions and ideas which quickly evolved into a discussion about home and life during the then-current Covid19 lockdown in Greece.

The eagerness of participants to continue the discussion meant that the first Zoom session lasted longer than the planned two hours. Since the event was so popular, a second session was organized for April 8th.

The events generated significant positive feedback with attendees describing it as a great opportunity to keep in touch with the outside world during lockdown. Maria Kokorotskou, MOMus Acting Director, also said that all participants asked the Museum to host in-person slow looking events after the pandemic.

At Slow Art Day HQ we love this event and choice of theme and photographs. We also are very happy to hear that attendees wanted the Museum to host more slow looking events after the lockdown.

In fact, we hope to see MOMus Thessaloniki Museum of Photography host events throughout the year, including Slow Art Day 2021!

– Johanna and Ashley

Female Photographers at the IAACC Pablo Serrano

For their first Slow Art Day the IAACC Pablo Serrano in Zaragoza, Spain, highlighted four works by female photographers from the Museum’s archive:

  • Grete Stern, Sueño 39, 1949.
  • Cristina Martín Lara, “Si yo supiera a qué se debe…/ Wenn ich nur wüsste woran das liegt…(1) II”, 2004.
  • Mapi Rivera, “Estelación crepuscular”, 2004.
  • Liang Yuanwei, “S/T, Series: ‘Don’t forget to say you love me’, 2005.
Grete Stern (Wuppertal, Germany, 1904 – Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1999), Sueño 39, 1949. Photomontage.
Cristina Martín Lara (Málaga, 1972), “Si yo supiera a qué se debe…/ Wenn ich nur wüsste woran das liegt…(1) II”, 2004. Polyptych, photography on aluminum.
Mapi Rivera (Huesca, 1976), “Estelación crepuscular”, 2004. Analog Photography and Chemical Printing.
Liang Yuanwei (Xi’an, China, 1977), “S/T, Series: Don’t forget to say you love me”, 2005. Photograph on paper.

The photos were part of the virtual project “Visiones transversales en torno a Circa XX. A través de mi cuerpo / A través de tu cuerpo” (“Transversal visions circa XX. Through my body / Through your body”) which explores women, their physical bodies, as well as their social and artistic agency.

For example, Stern’s “Sueño 39” denounces obstacles women faced in 1940s Argentina. Yuanwei’s self-portrait series “Don’t forget to say you love me” is a parody of erotic photographs of women which comments on the male gaze and the objectification of women.

On April 4th, 2020, the photos were shared on social media, accompanied by prompts and brief descriptions. Viewers were encouraged to look slowly at each photograph and then to share their reflections online. The Museum also produced a short video of the four works, which can be viewed below.

The photos were liked many times on social media and some participants, and even some artists, posted inspiring reflections. One of the photographers, Cristina Martín Lara, commented on Facebook:

What a joy to be part of this Slow Art Day initiative to show everyone the Cirka XX Collection in our confinement. Thank you for making it possible! (Translated from Spanish)

Cristina Martín Lara

Several participants also posted reflections in connection with individual photographs. For example:

Even in the most idyllic context we can find something that makes us stop suddenly, causing us pain that only time, and not the context, can mitigate. (Translated from Spanish)

Participant response to Grete Stern’s “Sueño 39”, Instagram.

At Slow Art Day HQ we are inspired by the depth of symbolism in these photographs. The works in the Cirka XX project are exciting to consider one-by-one and even more powerful when viewed in relation to each other. We recommend that all Slow Art Day readers look at the photos posted above as well as the video.

We want to also thank María Luisa Grau Tello, curator at IAACC Pablo Serrano, as well as Julio Ramón Sanz, Eva María Alquézar, Alba Rodrigo Urmente, Gloria Sánchez Martín, Silvia Abad Villarroya and Alfredo Blanco Morte for hosting the Museum’s innagural Slow Art Day event.

We look forward to what the IAACC comes up with for Slow Art Day in 2021!

– Johanna and Ashley



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.




Museo Pedagógico de Aragón Hosts First Slow Art Day

For The Museo Pedagógico de Aragón first Slow Art Day, the Huesca, Spain-based museum designed a compelling and important virtual event.

Participants were invited to slowly view a photograph from the museum’s archive, and given prompts for reflection. Responses were then emailed to Sara Lugo, Curator at Museo Pedagógico de Aragón, for collation.

The 1959 photo, titled ‘Sewing Afternoon’ (or ‘Afternoon of Work’), depicts the female teacher Rosa Mairal and students from a small town in northern Spain during General Franco’s dictatorship.

‘Afternoon of work, Rosa Mairal and her students, Girls School, Borau (Huesca)’, 1959.
Archive of the Pedagogical Museum of Aragon.

The image sparked discussion around a range of topics, including the working conditions of female teachers, the types of subjects taught to girls, and the current role of women in education.

Participants concluded that the education of women has greatly improved since 1959, but many changes still need to be made, especially in working conditions for women all over the world.

The museum’s virtual event received 84 views of the event listing, and over 1000 Twitter interactions and Facebook views. 

Sara Lugo, Curator at Museo Pedagógico de Aragón, said she really liked Slow Art Day and hopes to continue in the future when we can return to the physical museums and galleries.

At Slow Art Day HQ we are delighted that Museo Pedagógico de Aragón has begun their Slow Art Day journey with such a wonderful event and very much look forward to their continued participation.

– Johanna

The Unique Vision of Edvard Munch

Sue Prideaux, author of Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream, wrote a feature article on the artist for the summer edition of Tate Etc. magazine to accompany the Tate Modern’s exhibition,“Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye.”

Prideaux writes about how Munch was affected by spiritualism and use of developing camera technology. In his photography, Munch experimented with the exposure and other processes to achieve supernatural effects that suggested “spirit images” and dopplegängers. Even paintings like “Madonna” (above) were influenced by photographs that claimed to capture the aura emitted by all living beings.

Read more to learn about Edvard Munch’s unique vision and how the arts of looking and painting in the Modernist period were changed by that period’s new technology.

– Naomi Kuo, Slow Art Day Intern