Japanese Women Artists: Slow Art Day at the Gardiner Museum

For their second Slow Art Day, the Gardiner Museum in Toronto (ON), Canada, created a slow looking video that focused on two ceramic sculptures by renowned Japanese women artists:

  • Fujikasa Satoko Hiten; Seraphim, 2016 Stoneware with white slip glaze.
    The Diana Reitberger Collection
  • Hattori Makiko. Ryū: Flow, 2017 Unglazed porcelainous stoneware
    The Diana Reitberger Collection
Fujikasa Satoko Hiten; Seraphim, 2016 Stoneware with white slip glaze. 23 1/4 x 25 1/8 x 17 3/4 in. The Diana Reitberger Collection

Hattori Makiko. Ryū: Flow, 2017 Unglazed porcelainous stoneware.
The Diana Reitberger Collection

On April 10, the museum invited participants to watch the below video showcasing the sculptures.

We recommend that museum educators and Slow Art Day fans around the world watch this simple and lovely slow looking video. The video is also accessible through the Museum’s website and social media channels: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

For those interested in the history of Japanese women sculptors, we recommend this article published in Pen [ペン]: Japan’s Female Ceramists Celebrated on the International Stage.

Slow Art Day 2021 video created by the Gardiner Museum. Music: White Lotus by Kevin Macleoud


While watching the video, participants were given the following prompts to better engage with the artworks:

Seraphim

  • Outline the sculpture with your eyes, noticing each bump and curve.
  • Trace the outline of the shadow at the base of the sculpture.
  • Look at the negative space created around and within the piece. What shapes do you see?
  • Observe the different areas of shadow and light. Try to identify all the various tones of grey, white, and black.
  • What would you title this piece?

Ryū: Flow

  • Look at the object as a whole. What does it look like to you? Does it remind you of anything familiar?
  • Observe the texture of the piece from a distance. What do you think it will look like up close?
  • What do think this piece would feel like to touch? Imagine resting your hand against it.
  • Pick a point along one of the little ribbons and follow it with your eyes, weaving among the spirals and folds. What shapes can you create?
  • Imagine picking up the sculpture. How heavy do you think it would be? Feel its weight in your hands.
  • If you were picking a spot to display this piece, where would you put it? Close your eyes and visualize it there.


Participants responded well to the video. We include some of their comments below:

I love experiencing the movements in such quietness. Thanks for showing us!

Participant’s quote


Wonderful pieces, beautifully shot! I could see the flow and feel the texture.

Participant’s quote.


Both beautiful pieces, a very meditative relaxing view of each individually. I really enjoyed looking at these two pieces in this way.

Participant’s quote


Such a lovely escape.

Participant’s quote


It is SLOW ART DAY… and the Gardiner Museum has released this wonderful 5 minute video designed to help us pause and reflect in the midst of our busy lives. What a great idea!

Participant’s quote



We at Slow Art Day HQ loved the video and the prompts. The mindful connection with the ceramic sculptures recreated and enhanced the experience.

We are considering a global tour of Slow Art Day museums, perhaps starting next summer. We would definitely love to visit the Gardiner Museum and see these beautiful sculptures in person.

And, of course, we look forward to what the Gardiner Museum comes up with for Slow Art Day 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

Open to Being Slow in Virginia

For their first Slow Art Day on April 10, 2021, Open to Being, a community-building organization based in Arlington, Virginia, hosted a virtual slow looking event and set of interactive exercises.

Theresa Esterlund, the founder of Open to Being, led a 45-minute session focused on artist Foon Sham’s outdoor sculpture ‘Ridge’ (2018), and participants were invited to join via Zoom or Facebook Live.

Foon Sham. Ridge. 2018. Public installation located in Oakland Park, Arlington, Virginia.
Photograph by Theresa Esterlund.

After looking slowly at the sculpture for 7-10 minutes, participants were invited to share and discuss their observations using the following questions and creative prompts:

Questions

  • What did the experience feel like to you?
  • What surprised you?
  • What inspired you?
  • What sparked your curiosity?
  • What do you remember the most?

Creative prompts

  • Write a 6 word story or Haiku
  • Use scraps of paper or other materials to build something
  • Take a photo
  • Design a symbol
  • Draw

Pictures and notes submitted by the participants in response to the creative prompts

The event was well received, and participants felt that the program was very accessible:

“I really appreciated the way your program unfolded. I did feel like I was transported to the park in a way, it was engaging in that we could almost compare notes with each other as guests on Zoom.”

Participant’s comment

With 25 years of experience in science, history, and art museum education, Esterlund is also an artist who now teaches yoga and meditation alongside her work with Open to Being. She sees a clear connection between slow looking at art and mindfulness:

“Looking at art slowly is an opportunity to practice mindfulness – being with everything that’s going on at any given moment and experiencing everything without judging or getting caught up in it. That kind of experience can lead to openings, which might be experienced long after the program. The emphasis was on the experience, with the artwork as a pathway and essential element of that experience, rather than on the art itself.”

Theresa Esterlund

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love it when hosts integrate slow looking, mindfulness and play. We can’t wait to see what creative design Esterlund comes up with for Slow Art Day 2022.

-Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

PS. You can view a recording of the event, and check out the Open to Being Facebook page for more information about upcoming events.

5-in-1 at Albany Institute’s First Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day, the Albany Institute of History and Art in Albany, NY, hosted five interconnected virtual events:

  • Social media slow looking activity
  • Word clouds from the virtual activity
  • Slow panning video
  • Wellness workshop
  • A “look & learn” for families

On April 10, the museum started their Slow Art Day by sharing three artworks to Instagram.

Viewers were asked to respond with one-word descriptions of the images, which the museum turned into word clouds to illustrate the feelings evoked. “Breezy”, “depth” and “freedom” were frequent responses.

The museum also produced a slow looking video that features the sculpture “The Fist” by Alice Morgan Wright. Viewers were encouraged to find a quiet space, silence their technology, take a few deep breaths, and observe the sculpture for one minute in silence. The video slowly circles the sculpture, allowing viewers to see it from every angle. At the end of the minute, the video moderator guides participants through thought provoking questions about the sculpture. View the video below and try this slow-looking activity for yourself.

Slow looking video of Alice Morgan Wright, ‘The Fist’, 1921. Video produced by The Albany Insitute of History and Art.

For the Zoom-based wellness workshop ‘Making Meaning: Meditating on Artwork as Wellness’, participants were guided through an hour of exploring, viewing, and discussing works of art with licensed art therapist Chloe Hayward. They were also invited to share an object from their personal space as a vehicle for connecting to the artworks. The session ended with a guided meditation.

People responded positively to the digital events hosted by the Albany Institute, with one participant calling them “invaluable at this time”. Victoria Waldron, Education Assistant at the Albany Institute, said the Albany Institute’s first Slow Art Day program was a success, with 60+ combined participant and social media interactions.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that the Albany Institute of History and Art chose to host five connected events for their first Slow Art Day, and are already excited to see what they plan for Slow Art Day 2022.

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley

MIT List Visual Arts Center Hosts Sixth Slow Art Day

MIT List Visual Arts Center hosted its sixth Slow Art Day, the third led by Emily Garner, Public Programs Manager.

The event highlighted three sculptures by artists Kathleen Ryan and Kapwani Kiwanga. Participants were given a self-guided prompt sheet that suggested ways to compare and contrast the selected works. This was followed by a public talk inviting participants to discuss the works and their experience of slow-looking.

A group of visitors look at Kathleen Ryan’s sculptures at the MIT List Visual Arts Center (Courtesy MIT List Visual Arts Center)

“We are always pleased to see the visitors give time that the works demand!”

Emily Garner, Public Programs Manager

Emily mentioned that she and her colleagues “are thrilled to participate in this global event amongst some great art institutions,” and we look forward to their participation in 2020.

– Ashley

Successful First Slow Art Day at InterAccess in Toronto

For their first Slow Art Day event, InterAccess in Toronto, Canada examined slow looking in relation to time-based media. They welcomed renowned artist Lisa Steele to the gallery to lead a two-hour tour of the exhibition of Daniel Young & Christian Giroux’s work Film Path / Camera Path with under-titles, which merges sculpture practice with film installation using high tech design and manufacturing technologies. 

First, Lisa Steele led a discussion with participants on slow looking, and invited them to read aloud the artist-contributed texts that accompanied the show, written by John Barlow, Ina Blom, Eric Cazdyn, Geoffrey Farmer, Agnieszka Gratza, Daniel Hambleton, Erín Moure, Bridget Moser, Judy Radul, Patricia Reed, Reza Negarestani, Mohammad Salemy, and Michael Snow.

Next, the visitors were encouraged to take time viewing the three different components of Young & Giroux’s work in the gallery – the film screen, the mechanical sculpture, and an LED sign displaying the texts the participants had read earlier in the session.

Image by Jennifer Toole. Courtesy of InterAccess.

We love to hear how organizations promote slow looking across diverse media, and look forward to seeing what InterAccess has in store for Slow Art Day 2020.

– Ashley

Immersive Mindfulness at Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Third Slow Art Day

Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) in West Bretton, UK hosted their third Slow Art Day, “Mindful Moments on Slow Art Day: To Breathe” by Kimsooja, a multi-disciplinary conceptual artist based in New York, Paris, and Seoul. 

Participants were invited for a private viewing of Kimsooja’s immersive installation in the historic chapel at YSP, which used light and mirrors to explore the meditative qualities of space. The mirrored floor and diffraction film in the windows responded to changes in natural light, generating a kaleidoscope of changing colors and reflections.

Photo by Mark Reeves

This year’s event was part of a program of mindfulness and art events developed by Art and Wellbeing Practitioner Rachel Howfield Massey and Mindfulness Instructor Sally Edward of Kindmind. Together they invited the group to take off their shoes and stand, sit, and lie on the mirrored floor for forty minutes and notice the changes around them and within their own bodies.

The group silently experienced moments of awe and joy when light flooded the space, and periods of quiet contemplation as the intensity of light changed from moment to moment. 

Photo by Mark Reeves

After the event, participants enjoyed hot drinks and pastries in the YSP Restaurant and took part in a gently facilitated discussion. They reported feeling a sense of heightened emotions and expansiveness. Here’s what one participant said:

“I feel like we have been on a journey and travelled far and back safely. How lovely the simplicity of this – simple yet so powerful. I feel very relaxed and empowered with a new tool – how to ‘to be’ with art.”

We look forward to seeing what mindful and immersive experiences the Yorkshire Sculpture Park programs for Slow Art Day in 2020.

– Ashley

Yoga & Meditative Creation for Slow Art Day at Wanås Konst in Sweden

For Slow Art Day 2019, Wanås Konst – Center for Art and Learning based in southern Sweden organized a full day focused on three main activities: yoga, slow art exploration, and meditative action painting.

The day started with the yoga session led by yoga instructor Risa Larsen, who focused on gaining new energy and a relaxed body and mind.

Then throughout the day, visitors were encouraged to choose five artworks in the sculpture park, taking the time to observe each slowly. 

Finally, in the afternoon, visitors were invited to the “Meditative Action Painting” workshop inspired by the Danish artist Jeppe Hein. Participants filled Tibetan singing bowls with colored water and used a ringer to slowly move around the edge of the bowl to create vibrations. These vibrations then created a work of art by sprinkling colored droplets onto a canvas underneath the bowl.

Meditative Action Painting Workshop
Photo credit: Elin Magnusson

Elin Magnusson, Head of Education at Wanås Konst, reported that many of the visitors stayed for the entire program.

We look forward to seeing what this site-specific, international contemporary art-focused organization has in store for their 2020 Slow Art Day.

– Ashley

Slow Art Day 2017 at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Host Rachel Massey at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park writes of their Slow Art Day 2017 experience,

“YSP launched Mindful Moments on Slow Art Day, inviting 10 people to a private one hour viewing of Tony Cragg’s A Rare Category of Objects. Participants were invited to focus their attention on five specially selected sculptures and given cards with guidance and suggestions for mindful viewing – they were encouraged to close their eyes on arrival and before departing from each art work, allowing time for the experience to settle, perhaps noticing sensations in their body to help ground them in the moment.

Invitations for ways to view the work included, “Notice the edges of the piece. Take time to trace the edges with your eyes. Move very close to the piece and look slowly. Move further away – what do you see now?”

The atmosphere in the gallery was tranquil, yet there was a sense of intent focus and quiet energy. People moved reverentially around the space, but felt comfortable to lie on the floor, crawl around and under sculptures, move their bodies in response to the shapes.

This was followed with a delicious breakfast of tea coffee and pastries in the restaurant and conversation about the experience.”

Visitor feedback:

“Slow Art Day at YSP was truly the best way to start the weekend. We’re spending the day here, and we will do it differently after that.”

“If I’d gone on a normal visit I wouldn’t have even looked at that sculpture. Now I feel a real connection to it and it’s my favourite one.”

“All my ideas about the work changed as I looked at it longer.”

“A great privilege to have this private experience with a sculpture.”