For their first Slow Art Day, Galleri Pictor in Munka-Ljungby, Sweden, hosted an in-person slow looking event with visiting art students from Munka folkhögskola.
On Slow Art Day, the group gathered in a gallery and sat in a half circle in front of a picture by André Bongibolt. They started with relaxing their bodies and minds for a moment before looking slowly at the artwork. Participants were also given a document with slow looking instructions in Swedish, viewable below.
Following this, all participants wrote their thoughts and observations and shared them back with the group. To round off the event, participants reflected on their slow looking experience over a cup of tea and cookies (or ‘biscuits’ as they sometimes say in Europe).
Reflecting on the event, Charlotte Fällman Gleissner shared the following with us:
Even as a gallerist, I seldom give myself time to really see the artwork in a deeper sense – therefore this was a new experience for me too. Further, I now understand how flexible slow-looking is and how it can be used with different kinds of groups in a range of settings. This is wonderful. Thank You!
Charlotte Fällman Gleissner
We at Slow Art Day HQ are excited that Galleri Pictor has joined the slow art movement – and, in fact, we now believe that all slow looking events should end with tea and cookies. That is certainly a best practice!
– Johanna, Phyl, Ashley, Jessica and Robin
PS: Stay in touch with other events at Galleri Pictor via their Instagram
For their first Slow Art Day, Monique Silk and her colleagues at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, created a series of Slow Art Cards in sets of five so both patients and visitors could participate. The cards utilized three different art works from their art collection and a photo from their archives. On the back of the card, they included a series of instructions on ways to look at the art works slowly.
The prompts they used are:
Look: Give yourself a few minutes to look all over the art work. Let your eyes wander to all corners of the image, top to bottom and left to right.
Observe: Notice the colors, shapes, objects, textures and markings on the surface of the art work. Where do your eyes focus?
Feel: What words come to mind about this art work? How do you feel looking at this art work? Does it remind you of anything?
Share: Share your experience of looking at the artwork with someone and post an image of the work online with a word of reflection and hashtag #slowartday2022
Cards were distributed to various hospital departments to share with patients and visitors on Slow Art Day. The response from the staff to the cards was very positive.
Monique also a slow art activity in the hospital courtyard. This activity invited people to sit and slowly look at their statue of St Vincent de Paul. They even invited people to come and hold his hands and interact with the sculpture directly. While people were a bit shy when sitting with the sculpture, the hosts gave people space to interact without feeling as though they were being directly observed.
One patient was wheeled out to the courtyard to be with the sculpture of St. Vincent and her caregiver said “this was the highlight of her day”. Another staff member said they had never noticed the sculpture before and thanked the hosts for giving them the opportunity to “feel” the presence of St. Vincent.
The pastoral care staff decided that the cards can be used on an ongoing basis and one chaplain said that:
“It’s a joy to offer the beautiful slow art cards to patients. There has been gratitude expressed from those who received your wonderful gifts. Such a great initiative!”
After the events, the hosts realized that they should have included a First Nations art work, which they plan to do for Slow Art Day 2023.
We at Slow Art Day are so happy that St. Vincent’s in Melbourne decided to celebrate Slow Art Day 2022 with patients and visitors. Perhaps, this is the beginning of a trend of many more hospitals around the world joining the slow looking movement, and bringing the power of learning to look at and love art to patients, visitors, and staff. This is a true Mitzvah.
In addition to this Slow Art Weekend, cARTie provides year-round museum field trips to elementary schools that have limited access to the arts. *All* of their field trips include slow art time with rich, facilitated discussion.
We love this program and their mission to bring art to schools that otherwise don’t have it. We also are impressed by the design of their mobile Slow Art Weekend including their decision to feature some terrific student art.
We very much look forward to seeing what design they come up with for Slow Art Day 2023.
– Robin, Ashley, Phyl, Jessica Jane, and Johanna
P.S. We’ve also asked them to provide an electronic copy of their brochure so we can share that with educators and curators around the world.
For their fourth Slow Art Day, the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) in Arizona, USA, hosted a slow looking event in combination with the opening of a new exhibition, Náátsʼíilid / Rainbow Light, featuring art by Diné artist Baje Whitethorne Sr., who grew up on the Navajo Nation Reservation.
Before the event, the museum posted a video to YouTube, where Alan Petersen, Curator of Fine Art, and Samantha Honanie, Bookstore & Publications Manager, introduced slow looking and Slow Art Day.
We highly recommend that all museum educators and curators view this well-done video.
In six minutes, Samantha and Alan show (not tell) the viewer how Slow Art Day works.
They use some simple but ingenious methods for “showing” 10 minutes of slow looking in just a minute or so — and they then capture the joy of discovery and enthusiasm that participants experience (that is so hard to describe in words).
It’s a real joy to watch.
Take a look and think about how you might borrow some of their techniques for your next Slow Art Day event.
For the actual day, participants were given a Slow Art Day cheat sheet of slow looking prompts.
Participants were then invited to view the art by Baje Whitethorne, choosing the order they wanted to see the artworks in, and applying the slow looking promts from the cheat sheet.
At 2pm, all participants gathered in the Living Room at the museum, where Alan Petersen led a discussion of the insights and experiences from the event.
We recommend viewing the following video of artist Baje Whitethorne introducing the title and theme of his exhibition, Náátsʼíilid / Rainbow Light, below.
We love everything about the NMA’s Slow Art Day – the preparatory video, the cheat sheet and the artwork chosen. We hope you get a chance to spend as much time with Baje Whitethorne and their work as we did in preparing this report.
We at Slow Art Day HQ are grateful that via writing these reports we get to look at and experience art from all over the world – art we may never have otherwise been able to see.
We look forward to whatever the Museum of Northern Arizona comes up with for Slow Art Day 2023.
– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl
P.S. Stay updated with events at the Museum of Northern Arizona via their Facebook page.
For their 6th Slow Art Day, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, designed a virtual slow looking event focused on the Russian painter Vassily Kandinsky’s painting Heavy Circles.
On April 10, 2021, the museum posted Kandinsky’s artwork along with slow looking prompts to their Instagram page. Viewers were invited to focus on an area of the painting that drew their eye, then turn their attention to how this area relates to the surrounding sections. Then visitors were asked to consider the entire painting, contemplating how the different parts relate to each other.
The post was a great success, and was liked 1,087 times.
Mariko Tu, who has been the Manager of Youth and Family Programs at the Norton Simon for the last seven years, let us know that this is her last year at the museum.
We want to take a moment to thank Mariko for her longtime leadership in the Slow Art Day movement. We love the slow looking events Mariko has designed over the years and look forward to doing some slow looking with her wherever she goes from here (see her great 2020 session design here).
In the meantime, we look forward to what the Norton Simon creates next year for Slow Art Day 2022.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Below are images of the featured artworks.
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”
“I started an art piece before the pandemic – and the outcome after a year was totally different than what I anticipated beforehand”
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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).