Slow Art for Educators at the Smithsonian

For their second Slow Art Day, The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, D.C., organized a virtual slow looking workshop specifically for art educators focused on the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). The aim of the session was to share slow looking ideas and skills that can be applied as teaching methods.

Detail of Katsushika Hokusai. Thunder God. Edo period, 1847. Ink and color on paper. 126.9 x 53.8 cm (49 15/16 x 21 3/16 in). Courtesy of Freer Gallery of Art.
Katsushika Hokusai. Thunder God. Edo period, 1847. Ink and color on paper. 126.9 x 53.8 cm (49 15/16 x 21 3/16 in). Courtesy of Freer Gallery of Art.

After a brief introduction by Education Specialist Jennifer Reifsteck, Faylinda Kodis, high-school Visual Educator, led the slow looking activity. BoBeen Chung, Program Assistant for the Department of Engagement and Visitor Experience, supported by sharing links for participants in the chat. The structure of the session is outlined below.

1. Start with a relaxation and meditation “eye palming” activity

2. Observe Hokusai’s “Thunder God” for 10 minutes – without prior knowledge of the work (and without distractions, including mobile phones).

3. Write observations on Hokusai’s artwork using the following prompts:

  • Describe: What did you see?
  • Analyze: Why do you think the artist made certain decisions in this artwork?
  • Interpret: What is the message, story, or theme of this artwork?
  • Inquire: What would you like to know about this artwork?

4. Discussion of the artwork and observations

Jennifer Reifsteck closed the day’s program by sharing a brief history of the Freer and Sackler’s Galleries, information on Hokusai’s collection, and where to find lesson plans and useful material for educators on the Gallery’s website.

We encourage educators to view the recording of the session and this Google doc highlighting the participants’ reflections.

Screenshot from the beginning of the Zoom session.

The event was attended by 53 participants from all over the world, including Romania, France, India, Austria, and several states across the United States: Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Florida, California, Rhode Island, and New York.

Participants loved the event, and left positive feedback:

“Congratulations and THANK YOU for today’s work and the follow-on resources. What lovely teamwork and expertise to share with us educators. Thanks to all participants, too!”

Participant’s quote from Zoom’s chat

“These resources/sharings are some of the BEST things that have come out of the pandemic, RIGHT?  Bless your good work!”

Participant’s quote from Zoom’s chat

“Amazing! Thank you, I am very inspired by this educational slow looking technique.”

Participant’s quote from Zoom’s chat

“Thank you for this wonderful approach to perception.”

Participant’s quote from Zoom’s chat

“Excellent, very informative & inspirational lessons on slow looking with Hokusai at Freer with you. Thank you so much.”

Participant’s quote from Zoom’s chat

“Thank you for all of this. It was very informative and of great benefit for me and my teaching going forward.”

Participant’s quote from Zoom’s chat

“Therapeutic to slow look. I appreciate this platform to collaboratively slow look and appreciate out loud. So I’m curious if the Freer or other art museums are offering more mornings like this to bring folks together for the shared experience. Now that the nation is ZOOMING as never before, it unleashes some more possibilities.”

Participant’s quote from Zoom’s chat

At Slow Art Day HQ, we are excited that the Smithsonian designed a slow art event specifically for educators, which advances our mission of equipping educators with the skills to implement slow looking in their teaching.

We look forward to seeing what they come up with in 2022!

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

Slow Art Looking and Making at the Artichoke Gallery in South Africa

For their 5th Slow Art Day, the Artichoke Gallery at MelonRouge Eatery in Magaliesburg, South Africa, organized an event featuring different art forms by three South African artists:

  • Handmade Damascus art knives by Bertie Rietveld
  • An oil painting by Evarné van Niekerk
  • A pen-drawn labyrinth artwork by Lorraine Reister 

Visitors were given a “Meet the Maker” bio of each artist, and were guided around the artworks by facalitator Hanolet Uys, himself an artist.

As part of the event, visitors were also given two blank canvases, acrylic paint, oil, and black permanent markers and were invite to create their own art.

Facilitator Hanolet Uys explaing Bertie’s process of making daggers.
Participant engaging with acrylic paint, oil, and black permanent markers.

Below are images of the featured artworks.

Bertie Rietveld. Apollo.

A section of the painting by Evarné van Niekerk. Oil on canvas.

Lorraine Reister. Wie is ek.

Participants engaging in discussion

Following the tour, participants discussed the artworks and artists around a table outside.

In their discussion of the art, participants reflected around the changed meaning of art in the context of a pandemic:

” The Pandemic made me look at art as a bare necessity and not as a ‘”luxury” as before”

Participant’s quote


“I started an art piece before the pandemic – and the outcome after a year was totally different than what I anticipated beforehand”

Participant’s quote

The Gallery, which has always been good at creating video artefacts of their event, produced a short TikTok video this year. We recommend that museum educators and other Slow Art Day designers watch it below:

TikTok video summarizing the Artichoke Gallery’s Slow Art Day.

We at Slow Art Day HQ are fans of the Artichoke Gallery and love the effort they put into designing their event every year.

We very much look forward to whatever they come up with in 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

P.S. You can follow Artichoke Gallery’s updates on Facebook

In Mindful Memory: Slow Art with the Patricia & Philip Frost Art Museum

For their 9th Slow Art Day, the Patricia & Philip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, in Miami, Florida, invited participants to join them for a virtual guided meditation, a yoga session, and a close-looking art exercise.

The event was organized in memory of Helena Venero, a dedicated docent, volunteer and art lover who enthusiastically helped the Frost Art Museum host their first Slow Art Day. We never knew Helena, but we feel her spirit strongly, and are really touched that the Museum organized the event in her memory.

Slow Art Day Zoom Session: Screenshot of Krysten Medina’s yoga session from the gallery on Zoom.
In the background: Chris Friday, “20 Feet Tall.” (Chalk on Arches paper, 2021)


On April 10, Victoria R. Gonzalez, a Health Educator, opened the event by encouraging participants to turn off their cellphones and join her in a guided meditation.

This prepped participants for the virtual yoga class that followed, which was led by Krysten Medina, a Prana Yoga instructor. With artwork in the background, she encouraged participants to give love and care to their bodies during the session as a grounding practice.

After yoga, participants were invited to complete a close-looking exercise using one of the below five works from the Gallery’s permanent collection.

Pepe Mar, ‘Mothership,’ Mixed media on wood, 2020, Courtesy of the Artist and David Castillo Gallery
René Portocarrero, ‘Mujer,’ 1954, painting, 15.25 x 11.5 in, Darlene M. and Jorge M. Perez Art Collection at FIU

Xaviera Simmons, ‘Beyond the Canon of Landscape,’ color photograph. 2008 Courtesy of the Artist and David Castillo Gallery

Unknown, ‘Mexico  Mask,’ wood paint. 20th Century  6 5/8 x 6 3/8 x 4 ½ inches  Gift of Lawrence and Linda Twill, FIU
Edouard Duval Carrie, ‘Regional Study,’ mixed media on paper. 2002  80 x 60 x 2 ½ inches  Purchase made possible with funds donated by Dr. Sanford L. and Dolores Ziff. FIU

Participants chose one of the artworks, and spent 15 minutes looking slowly. They were then asked to ponder the following questions:

1. Describe the object.

2. What emotions, moods, ideas, or thoughts does the object convey or generate?

3. How has the maker/artist manipulated the materials and/or elements to convey or generate these emotions, moods, ideas, or thoughts? 

4. What social, cultural, and historical factors might have influenced the maker/artist’s choices, and the object’s meaning?

5. What personal meaning or significance do you find in this object?

6. How would you compare this work to other artworks that you have seen? How is it similar and how is it different?

7. What other observations do you have?

Emily Afre, Education Specialist at the Gallery, thanked the Slow Art Day HQ team for “the opportunity to participate in another year of taking it slow.”

In turn, we would like to thank Emily and The Frost Art Museum for their long-term commitment to celebrating Slow Art Day, and for holding this year’s event in memory of someone who started their journey in Slow Art. We love being part of a global movement that helps people learn to look at and love art, all while slowing down in this fast-paced, multi-tasking world.

We can’t wait to see what the Patricia & Philip Frost Museum comes up with for their 10th Anniversary Slow Art Day in 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

P.S. If you are interested in following the Frost Art Museum’s updates, here you can find their Facebook page.

Slow Art and Mindfulness with the Art Gallery of Ontario

For their 7th Slow Art Day on April 10th, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto, one of Canada’s largest art museums, shared a video and five artworks from their collection to their social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

A couple of days before the event, AGO uploaded a slow looking video featuring Clarence Alphonse Gagnon’s ‘Study of a Hare in Winter’ (1922), with a slow looking and mindfulness exercise guided by Melissa Smith, Assistant Curator of Community Programs.

Slow Looking video produced by the Art Gallery of Ontario for Slow Art Day 2021, featuring Clarence Alphonse Gagnon’s ‘Study of a Hare in Winter’ (1922), with a slow looking exercise guided by Melissa Smith, Assistant Curator of Community Programs.

On the actual day of the event, participants were then invited to focus on each of these five artworks for 10 minutes:

  • Kazuo Nakamura, Blue Reflections, 1962
  • Abraham Anghik Ruben, Sedna, c.1990
  • Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior with Four Etchings, 1904
  • Julie Mehretu, Algorithms, Apparitions and Translations, 2013
  • Christi Belcourt, Wisdom of the Universe. 2014

They were also encouraged to leave comments under each image.

Below are images of the artworks, which we encourage you to experience slowly using the AGO’s prompts that follow.

Kazuo Nakamura, Blue Reflections, 1962
oil on canvas, Overall: 101.7 x 127 cm. Purchase, with funds from the Peter Larkin Foundation, 1962. © Art Gallery of Ontario 62/8

Prompts for Kazuo Nakamura

For this Kazuo Nakamura piece don’t just look slowly, look closely. See how subtly the colours change. Pay attention to how the gradual shifts in brushstrokes give a sense of movement to the landscape. What do you notice about how the brushstrokes are applied? Each and every brushstroke is calculated and purposefully applied. Nakamura is best known for this analytical approach in his paintings, and in his later works, he was influenced by mathematics and scientific theories. He sought to discover a universal pattern in art and nature. What do you think this universal pattern would look like? Do you prefer an analytical approach or a more gestural one?

xxxxxx

Potrebbe essere un'immagine raffigurante 1 persona e scultura
Abraham Anghik Ruben, Sedna, c.1990
mottled dark green Brazilian soapstone, inset stone eyes, Overall (approx.) 70 × 35.5 × 18 cm. Gift of Samuel and Esther Sarick, Toronto, 2001. © Abraham Anghik Ruben. 2001/400 

Prompts for Abraham Anghik Ruben

Abraham Anghik Ruben is a storyteller and tells his stories through the medium of sculpture. His sculptures often tell the legends, myths, and spiritual traditions of the Inuit people and the Arctic land. A recurring figure in Ruben’s works is the Inuit Sea Goddess, Sedna. Look at how her hair dramatically but gracefully arches up behind her like it is flowing with the movement of water. Notice how her eyes stand out from the rest of the sculpture, and how she clutches her hands close to her torso. What do her expression and her posture suggest? What is the message Ruben is trying to share?

xxxx

Potrebbe essere un contenuto artistico raffigurante spazio al chiuso
Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior with Four Etchings, 1904
oil on canvas, Framed: 74.7 × 63.6 cm. Purchased with the assistance of a Moveable Cultural Property grant accorded by the Department of Canadian Heritage under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, 2015; © Art Gallery of Ontario. 2014/1054

Prompts for Vilhelm Hammershøi

Looking for a little calm and quiet? Come and join us in Vilhelm Hammershøi’s “Interior with Four Etchings”. A muted scene in both colour and sound, we invite you to hush the world around you as you spend some time with this piece. The female figure is the artist’s wife, Ida. Since she has her back to us, we cannot read her expression. But because she is turned away, we can enter and explore this private space freely. Take a look around. Notice how the light softly enters from the left, creating reflections on surfaces and depth in the space. Where do your eyes go? To the items on the table? To the etchings on the wall? What are the etchings of? Look closely because there are details here that could have easily escaped you before.

xxxxx

Potrebbe essere un contenuto artistico
Julie Mehretu, Algorithms, Apparitions and Translations, 2013
One of a suite of five etchings. Etching with aquatint, spitbite, soft ground, hardground, drypoint and engraving in black ink on paper. Sheet: 79.4 × 94.8 cm. Purchase, with funds from the Trier-Fodor Fund, 2019. © Julie Mehretu, courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery. 2019/2322.1

Prompts for Julie Mehretu

There’s no piece quite like this Julie Mehretu that demonstrates the importance of an unhurried and patient approach to art. Mehretu is inspired by landscapes, cities, and human activity within nature. Particularly interested in layered imagery, Mehretu’s printmaking technique requires her to slow down as she layers line upon line to create this surreal landscape. Take a look, what do you see? Now, look closer. Even closer. The closer you look the more details you’ll see. The larger narrative will begin to fall apart, revealing various smaller narratives beneath. Just as the piece evolves with each of Mehretu’s lines, your experience of this work will also evolve over time. So, go on. Look again.

xxxx

Nessuna descrizione della foto disponibile.
Christi Belcourt, Wisdom of the Universe. 2014
Acrylic on canvas, unframed: 171 × 282 cm. Purchased with funds donated by Greg Latremoille, 2014. © Christi Belcourt 2014/6

Prompts for Christi Belcourt

Ten minutes is hardly enough time to contemplate the wisdom of the universe, both the concept and this piece by Metis artist Christi Belcourt. Take your time to really explore this piece. What type of birds do you see? What type of flowers and vegetation can you recognize? Imagine yourself in this space. Move through the branches and notice the balance and harmony. Can you hear the sounds of the animals? Can you smell the flowers around you? See how everything is connected. This great network of life. Belcourt’s piece asks us to reflect upon the well-being of all living species on this earth, as the current climate crisis affects us all. Take a deep breath, and surround yourself with the wisdom of the universe.

xxxx

The event was well received, with 10,000+ likes and views on the AGO’s social media platforms.

Below are some great quotes form participants:

This is my favourite painting at the AGO! I always spend a long time in front of it and always pick up something new each visit.

Participant’s comment under Nakamura’s painting – Instagram

Love this idea!!

Participant’s comment on Instagram

We appreciate the Art Gallery of Ontario’s thoughtful design for this multi-day virtual event, and look forward to what they come up with for Slow Art Day in 2022.

Johanna, Ashley, Jessica, and Phyl

(Anything But) Black and White: Slow Art Week at NMWA

For their 8th annual (and 2nd virtual) Slow Art event, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington DC, invited visitors to take part in a Slow Art Week, which opened on April 2 and culminated in a virtual gathering on April 10, facilitated by a museum educator.

The NMWA created a virtual collection, “(Anything But) Black and White”, for the week of activities. The Museum’s aim with this collection was to remind that life is rarely clearcut, and that we should seek to discover and embrace nuance, variety, and difference. The selected artworks were available to view online throughout the week, and were on display in the museum for those who could visit in person.

               Shirin Neshat, On Guard, 1998; Gelatin silver print with ink, 11 x 14 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Tony Podesta Collection; © Shirin Neshat

The final event of Slow Art Week, held on Saturday the 10th, featured lively conversation about the experience of slow looking. To facilitate more intimate dialogue with the group the museum used breakout rooms, which is a great tool during virtual sessions.

The NMWA provided participants a detailed PDF with instructions to review before joining the session on Saturday 10th.

We encourage museum educators and curators to review the PDF above to get a sense of the design of the whole event. We will highlight just a few things here.

We particularly liked the four guiding questions the NMWA asked participants to consider ahead of the Saturday session. Those questions were the following:

  • How might art help you appreciate perspectives other than your own?
  • What are your first impressions or assumptions based on? What do you need for your opinions to evolve or change?
  • Have you experienced a shift from binary to spectrum thinking about a topic in the last year? What influenced that change in thinking?
  • How can we seek to “find the gray” in the world around us?

Also in preparation for the Saturday session, the close looking PDF provided various entry points for participants, including prompts for kinesthetic and visual learners. The aim was to give participants the opportunity to approach the process of slow looking in way(s) most comfortable for them. Some of the provocations are listed below.

  • Consider the artwork’s details. Roll up a sheet of paper to create a viewfinder. Look at the artwork through it to isolate and consider the artwork’s parts.
  •  Arrange things you find around your home to make a temporary found-object sculpture that is inspired by your favorite choice. Take a picture of your sculpture. Post it to social media and tag @womeninthearts and @slowartday.
  • Create a bank of words and phrases that come to mind as you look at an artwork.

Slow Art Week was well received:

 “For the NMWA session I did the independent slow looking first, then attended the Zoom meeting. All of it was rewarding. I enjoyed the chance for interaction in the small groups. Hearing other people talk about their observations, questions, ideas, etc. is a reminder to me that I miss things even when looking closely and/or I interpret what I see differently than other people. Above all what was most meaningful to me was the opportunity to “commune” with other, like-minded (art-minded) people. For a short time I felt less alone. What I enjoyed about the day overall (attended Slow Art Day at both NMWA and Philadelphia Museum of Art) is that I allowed myself to have a whole day for art things, which was like medicine.”

Participant’s quote

“If you want to learn about and get to know a person, you spend time with them. The same is true with works of art. Time to look, time to pause, time to breathe. Time to process and to just be. NMWA’s works of art deserve this, and so do we. These works can become our life-long friends.”

Participant’s quote

 “I participated in the independent slow looking and in the Zoom meeting. For me, both were important, I guess one needs time to look in your own times and places, and you also arrive prepared to the meeting. The meeting is also important because it is the opportunity to share and to listen to other experiences and views. For me both are learning opportunities and experiences.”

Participant’s quote in response to the moderator’s questions: What element(s) of Slow Art Day did you take part in—independent slow looking, Zoom meeting, both? Which element(s) did you find most rewarding. Why?

 “I did not do the independent slow looking exercise since I only decided to participate a short while ahead of enrolling in the session. During the Zoom meeting, I found the conversation that you facilitated thoughtful and respectful, with time given in between words for collective observation. When you added information about the works, it was artfully done, with just the right amount so as to further the looking dialogue that was happening between us.”

Participant’s quote

We at Slow Art Day HQ would like to thank the NMWA for their long-lasting commitment to Slow Art Day, and love how creative and inclusive their Slow Art Week was. The pandemic has proven quite isolating for many, and we agree, as one participant mentioned, that enjoying art slowly is “like medicine” for the soul.

We look forward to seeing what the NMWA comes up with for Slow Art Day 2022 (and, again, encourage museum educators to review their detailed PDF for ideas and inspiration).

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

P.S. If you would like to be updated with the NMWA’s events you can follow the on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Slow Art Infusion at the Three Sisters Tearoom

The Three Sisters Tearoom, in ​Campbellsville, Tennessee, hosted their first official Slow Art Day – and due to popular demand, they decided to hold slow looking sessions throughout the whole month of April.

The Stowe family, who run the tearoom, designed their Slow Art Month around selected paintings that featured tea as a centerpiece.

Artworks included:

  • One of the Family. Fredrick George Cotman
  • Beauty and the Beast. Jessi Wilcox Smith.
One of the Family. Fredrick George Cotman
Beauty and the Beast. Jessi Wilcox Smith.

During the sessions, visitors looked slowly at the selected works while sipping tea and listening to live music. This was followed by an engaging discussion where participants shared their observations.

The paintings selected, along with many others, are included in two slow-art-inspired books: Infused: Tea Time in Fine Art, and The Hide and Seek Gallery: A Child’s I Spy in Fine Art. Both books are written by Jennifer Stowe, slow art author, tearoom owner, and mother to the three sisters that the tearoom is named after.

Participants engaging with art.
Participants engaging with fine art while sipping tea.

The events were well received by participants of all ages. Julia Stowe said that she and her sisters are excited to continue hosting multi-generational slow art sessions throughout the year.

“Guests of all ages enjoyed this set-apart time to consider art, and the unique and intriguing observations from art-observers of various generations were especially delightful.”

Julia Stowe

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that the Stowe family have adopted multi-generational slow looking sessions throughout the year.

We have been thinking about creating an annual tour to visit Slow Art Day museums and galleries all over the world. Assuming we make that happen, we hope to visit Campbell, TN and try their tea and slow art infusions.

In the meantime, we look forward to what the Three Sisters Tearoom comes up with for Slow Art Month in 2022.

Johanna, Ashley, Jessica, and Phyl

P.S. If you are interested in learning more about their approach, read the Summer 2021 newsletter below.

Spring in the Air at Frye Art Museum

For their fourth Slow Art Day, the Frye Art Museum, in Seattle, Washington, partnered with King County Library System and invited participants to a virtual artwork discussion on the theme of spring.

Visitors at Frye’s museum. Photo credit: Devon Simpson

The session was led by Caroline Byrd, Education Coordinator at the Frye Museum. Visitors joining the event on April 10 were invited to focus on two artworks:

  • An untitled oil painting by Norwegian artist Hans Dahl (1849-1937)
  • Clouds and Windblown Hay by Charles Burchfield (1863-1967).

You can view videos featuring discussion of both artworks on the Museum’s Frye From Home blog:

Hans Dahl. Untitled. 1883-1915. Oil on canvas. 65.41 x 49.53 cm. Photo Credit: Mark Woods. Courtesy of Frye Art Museum
Charles Burchfield. Clouds and Windblown Hay. 1954-64. Watercolor on paper.101.6 x 76.2 cm.
Photo Credit: Jueqian Fang. Courtesy of Frye Art Museum

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!” –

Program Participant

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.

-Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

Forest Bathing + Mindfulness at MASS MoCA

For their fourth Slow Art Day, the MASS MoCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), in North Adams, Massachusetts, produced a self-guide leaflet for in-person visitors and organized a virtual event for participants at home.

For visitors to MASS MoCA on April 10th, the museum offered a Slow Art Day Self-Guided Itinerary that challenged visitors to take an unhurried look at MASS MoCA’s exhibitions.

Slow Art Day Self-Guided Itinerary

Before starting their tour, visitors were invited to try a “forest bath” outside the museum. Below are the guidelines from the leaflet:

“Start your slow experience by putting your phone away; plan on going back through the museum after this tour to take photos. Settle into being at the museum by taking in a few deep breaths. As you do so, observe any tensions in your body and release them. Put on hold any distracting thoughts like ‘I have to see everything!’ or ‘What is this place?’ Next, take a few moments to engage in a forest bath to increase relaxation and awareness.

First, take 3–4 deep breaths in/out.

Stand noticing your feet touching the ground.

Look up to enjoy the sky; feel the light on your face.

Walk around slowly and take notice of the ground.

Notice the trees above, then the trees in the distance.

Notice and feel sunlight streaming through the trees and take in the smell.

If you are feeling ambitious, take a moment to move your body to mimic the
trees above. What would it be like to contort yourself the way these trees have changed to grow upside down? (One option could be to try the yoga tree and mountain poses).”

The leaflet featured five artworks from the museum, each accompanied by slow looking prompts:

1. TREE LOGIC. Natalie Jeremijenko.

2. HOW TO MOVE A LANDSCAPE. Blane De St. Croix.

3. IN THE LIGHT OF A SHADOW. Glenn Kaino.

4. DISSOLVE James Turrell.

5. IN HARMONICITY, THE TONAL WALKWAY. Julianne Swartz.

After completing the tour, participants were encouraged to discuss their observations with friends and family, especially if visiting in a group.

RS28530_PH6A2242-lpr
Natalie Jeremijenko, Tree Logic, 1999. 6 flame maple trees, 8 35 feet telephone poles, stainless steel planters and armature, aircraft table and drip irrigation system, photo: Zoran Orlic. Courtesy of MASS MoCA
Blane De St. Croix. HOW TO MOVE A LANDSCAPE. Building 4, 1st floor. Courtesy of MASS MoCA.
Glenn Kaino. IN THE LIGHT OF A SHADOW. Building 5.
Courtesy of MASS MoCA.
James Turrell. DISSOLVE. Building 6, 2nd floor. Courtesy of MASS MoCA.
Julianne Swartz. IN HARMONICITY, THE TONAL WALKWAY. Building 10, 2nd floor.

For the online event, the museum launched virtual material as part of “MASS MoCA From Home.” Resources included two art “how-to” videos, featuring projects that focused on being present with the art-making process. Watch the videos below and try the projects for yourself.

Slow virtual Art-making video: Paper Pulp Clay. This project is inspired by Louise Bourgeois’ Untitled.
Slow virtual Art-making video: Frozen Watercolors. This project is inspired by James Turrell’s Dissolve.

As the final part of the program, MASS MoCA also produced a guided meditation that focused on the painting ‘Indian Summer – Four Seasons‘ by Wendy Red Star. Watch it below.

SLOW LOOKING MEDITATION video with Wendy Red Star’s Indian Summer – Four Seasons

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the way MASS MoCA incorporated nature and mindfulness in their event for both onsite and offsite participants – giving everyone an opportunity to slow down in different ways.

We are excited for their 5th Slow Art Day in 2022!

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

BYU’s First Slow Art Day

On April 10, the Brigham Young University Museum of Art (BYU) in Provo, Utah, welcomed visitors to their first Slow Art Day event, which was in-person. Visitors were welcomed by a student educator at the front desk, who invited them to try the four slow looking strategies outlined in the below brochure. Participants were given suggestions for art to use for the exercise, but were free to apply the strategies to any work of art on display.

Brigham Young University Museum of Art Slow Art Day brochure.

Below we have summarized their four key instructions (to see the full details, look at the picture of the brochure above):

  1. Look BIG: casting a wide net can yield a range of observations and reveal the complexity of things. How? Explore and discover everything, everywhere in any given work of art!
  2. Narrow your focus: organizing your viewing strategy gives structure to the museum experience and helps you focus on something specific. How? Select an artwork and focus on certain types of things, such as colors, shapes, lines, faces, hands, trees, or anything that interests you.
  3. Change your perspective: this technique can lead the discovery of small details and large patterns. How? Alter your physical distance to the artwork, as well as your angle and perspective.
  4. Contrast & Compare: noticing similarities and differences (some of which may be intended by curators) can enrich your insights. How? Compare and contrast two neighboring artworks and describe your observations.

The event was advertised via an in-house digital banner, printed signage, social media coverage on Facebook and Instagram, and a feature in the on-campus digital newsletter. A total of 116 visitors participated in the activity throughout the day.

The Museum already has a Slow Looking Gallery Guide based on Shari Tishman’s 2018 book “Slow Looking”, which features Slow Art Day and inspired BYU’s event brochure (Note: we are planning a webinar with Shari Tischman for the fall of 2021).

Below are several photos from their event.

Participants engaging with art following the four slow looking strategies.

Visitors arriving at the front desk of the Museum

Philipp Malzl, Museum Educator, said that many visitors later shared their experience and insights with Museum staff. As a “thank you” gesture for sharing their feedback, the Museum gave participants a small gift (either a magnifying glass, art print, or museum pin).

Student educator at the front desk of the Museum hands a Slow Art Day participant a gift

They received a lot of great feedback (below are some highlights):

“I had no idea there was so much to see!”

Participant’s quote

“That was awesome! A whole new perspective.”

Participant’s quote

“I have [one of these paintings] hanging in my office, but I’ve never taken the time to really look at the details. I’m an art guy… this was different, and I loved it.”

Participant’s quote

“Usually we try to see everything in a museum, but today we didn’t. We really loved slowing down and paying more attention to the details.”

Participant’s quote

“We’ve been participating in this for years…we love slow art!”

Participant’s quote

At Slow Art HQ, we are excited that more than 100 participants took part in Brigham Young University Museum’s inaugural Slow Art Day. We loved their detailed four-step brochure, and their *thank-you* gifts. They did an amazing job of creating a welcoming environment.

We look forward to seeing their plans for Slow Art Day 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, and Ashley

Meditative Slow Art Day at Grounds For Sculpture

For Slow Art Day, Grounds For Sculpture (GFS) in Hamilton, New Jersey, hosted nearly 1,000 participants and provided them with meditative prompts to use while slow-viewing the sculptures.

Picture of visitors engaging with different sculptures at Grounds.

On April 10, all visitors were encouraged to do a slow looking activity using the following instructions created by Libby Vieira da Cunha, Manager of Group Visit and School Programs at Grounds For Sculpture:

1) Pick any sculpture on the grounds that interests you

2) Challenge yourself to look at the sculpture for 5 minutes – set a timer and allow yourself to slow down

3) While taking a slow look, ask yourself the following questions:

Observe

  • Take a deep breath. Walk around the sculpture and let your eyes move slowly around the artwork – from where it touches the ground all the way up to the sky.
  • What do you notice? Make three observations based on what you noticed.

Share

  • Think of a story or experience this sculpture reminds you of – anything that comes to mind.
  • Think of a friend that you want to share this sculpture with, why does this person come to mind?

Reflect

  • What do you notice about the sculpture now that you did not see at first glance? How does this change your impression of the sculpture?
  • If you’re with others share your responses with each other. Did they have similar or different thoughts on the sculpture?

Repeat

  • If you’re up for the Slow Art Day challenge, then repeat this exercise with two other sculptures
  • What new question might you pose for slow looking? Add it to your next slow look.

Slow Art Day at Grounds for Sculpture Poster

Throughout the day, facilitators also walked between different groups, inviting them to discuss the artwork ‘Dorian’ by artist Bruce Beasley (pictured below).

Bruce Beasley, Dorian (1986). Welded stainless steel, burnished surface.
240 in x 360 in x 120 in. Courtesy of Grounds for Sculpture

Ahead of the event, it was advertised on Facebook and Instagram, receiving more than 600 likes from the public. The in-person activity was very well received, and experienced by a total of 952 visitors from across the country – from Arizona, California, Minnesota, and many states along the east coast.

Participants shared that they found the experience fun, stimulating, reflective, special, interesting, insightful, and meditative:

“The fact that you can see it (the artwork) from so many different perspectives makes it more beautiful.”

Slow Art Day Participant

“I felt a closer bond to my friend doing it as we expressed our experiences”

Slow Art Day Participant’s quote

“Allows for seeing hidden beauty”

Participant’s quote

“I was able to reflect and learn something new”

Slow Art Day Participant’s quote

At Slow Art Day HQ, we were excited to see Grounds for Sculpture bring out nearly 1,000 people for their first annual event. We also appreciated GFS’ enthusiasm, creativity and attention to detail. And their poster (pictured above) is terrific.

We can’t wait to see what they come up with for their second Slow Art Day in 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, and Ashley