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

A Slow Look at Landscapes with the MSV

For their first Slow Art Day, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) in Winchester, Virginia, shared slow-panning videos of two artworks to Facebook.

Click on the paintings below to watch the videos.

Vance Barry, ‘Cocktail Hour, Star Gables Motor Court’, 22.5 x 24″, 2016-2017. Oil on panel.
The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. Click on the painting to watch the video.

Sally Veach, ‘Autumn Ascension’, 48 x 48″, 2018. Oil on canvas in silver leaf frame.
Shown at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley as part of the 2019 Exhibition: ‘Ghosts of a Forgotten Landscape: Paintings by Sally Veach‘. Click on the painting to watch the video.

The videos were accompanied by prompts, and viewers were invited to respond in the comments.

We have included the prompts below. Why not watch the videos and try some slow looking?

Prompt to the Vance Barry video:

Think about the landscape features you see. What colors and shapes do you notice? How would this landscape sound if you were there? What, if anything, is missing from the landscape?

Prompt to the Sally Veach video:

Think about the colors you see and the shapes you notice. Take a deep breath and look again. Do you notice a different shape or color this time?What time of year do you think the artist is trying to convey? Does this painting remind you of anything you’ve seen out in the world? How does it make you feel?

In total the videos reached 800+ people. Several participants left comments on Facebook, describing Sally Veach’s paintings as “breathtaking”. One viewer also noted that ‘Autumn Ascension’ made him think of the chill of fall before an incoming storm.

Thank you to Mary Ladrick, Director of Education, and her team for hosting a great first Slow Art Day event. The 2020 pandemic meant that museums and galleries had to host virtual events this year, but the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley really rose to the challenge.

We look forward to what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2021.

– Johanna and Ashley

What’s your Baggage?

For their second Slow Art Day, Railway Street Studios in Auckland, New Zealand, hosted a virtual event focused on Toni Mosley’s ‘CASE: Allegory’ series of art, which was inspired by the simple question: ‘what’s your baggage?’

As a result of thinking about that question, Mosley decided to explore suitcases as metaphorical symbols for emotional baggage, notions of mobility and journeys, and as containers of secrets, knowledge and memories. Not surprisingly, this theme ended up having significant resonance for home-bound viewers during the pandemic.

On April 4th, 2020, participants were invited to look slowly for 5-10 minutes at a selection of Mosley’s art:

Toni Mosley, ‘The Letters,’ CASE: Allegory, 2020. Screenprint, paint on found image, 170mm x 200mm.
Toni Mosley, ‘Find Patience,’ CASE: Allegory, 2020. Screenprint, paint on found image, 188mm x 262mm.
Toni Mosley, ‘My Heart, My Family,’ CASE: Allegory, 2020. Screen Monoprint, hand painted on paper, 206mm x 286mm.
Toni Mosley, ‘My Immigration,’ CASE: Allegory, 2020. Screen Monoprint, hand painted on paper, 272mm x 210mm.

Participants were given four prompts to guide their slow looking:

  • What do you notice? The obvious and the subtle.
  • Does this remind you of anything? A story — personal, historical.  A single meaning or multiple?
  • Color and mood? Do you have an initial emotional response?
  • Does this piece bring up any questions? This could be metaphorical or technical.

The challenge that Railway Street Studios had to confront in the design of its virtual event was how to encourage attendees to really slow down and look. They came up with a simple, but effective, strategy: ask people to write down and send in their answers to the four prompts above for the chance to win an original artwork by Toni Mosley.

Fiona Cable, founder of Railway Street Studios, said it worked. Participants enjoyed the process and took time to think carefully about answers to the prompts, which they then submitted via a link on the Railway Street Studios’ website.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we thoroughly enjoyed the depth of symbolism in Toni Mosley’s artworks — especially given the shut-down of travel during the pandemic — and were also impressed by Railway Street Studios’ initiative to host a prize competition as a way to incentivize virtual slow looking.

We hope to see another creative event from Railway Street Studios for Slow Art Day on April 10th in 2021.

– Johanna and Ashley

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

‘The Approaching Storm’ with The Norton Simon

For their fifth Slow Art Day, The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA, invited the public via Instagram to look slowly at Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de la Peña’s ‘The Approaching Storm.’

The event was inspired by the Norton Simon’s regular Mindful Looking sessions, where visitors focus on looking at one artwork for one hour.

Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de la Peña (French, 1807-1876), The Approaching Storm, 1870, oil on canvas, The Norton Simon Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon.

Viewers were guided by two prompts:

  • Step inside this scene and sit under the light.
  • How does it feel? In times of uneasiness, where do you find light⁣⁣?

We’d also like to note that the museum provided an unusually good description of the artwork – not filled with jargon but instead with accessible, compelling, and even poetic words.

⁣”In the midst of an approaching storm, a beacon of light shines down through a gunmetal sky onto a rocky landscape. A lone woman by the rocks nestled in the middle of the scene reminds us that we are part of this earth. At right, a tree is bent and blasted but does not break.”⁣⁣

Description of ‘The Approaching Storm’, The Norton Simon Museum, Slow Art Day 2020.

Mariko Tu, Manager of Youth and Family Programs at the Norton Simon Museum, said that slow-looking visitors loved the experience and the post was liked 600+ times.

The Slow Art Day HQ team also participated. We imagined ourselves in this scene; felt the soft warmth of the light, and really immersed ourselves in the calm before the storm. Although the lone woman in the painting seemed small, we came to believe that she is filled with strength and courage from the light despite the dark skies.

We look forward to whatever The Norton Simon Museum comes up with for 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



Slow Looking at American Art with the MCA, Chicago

For their second Slow Art Day, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (MCA), Illinois, featured five arworks by American artists from the MCA Collection.

CA Collection Artwork #1 Deana Lawson, American, b. 1979 “Sons of Cush,” 2016 Inkjet print, and mounted on Sintra Framed: 44 × 55 3/16 in. (111.8 × 140.2 cm) Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Restricted gift of Emerge, 2018.19
MCA Collection Artwork #2 Nicholas Africano, American, b. 1948 “I Get Hurt,” 1980 Acrylic, magna, oil, and enamel on Masonite Framed, approx.: 36 × 71 1/8 × 4 in. Collection MCA Chicago, 1980.42
MCA Collection Artwork #3 Jack Pierson, American, b. 1960 The Call Back, 1995 Chromogenic development print 30 × 20 in. (76.2 × 50.1 cm) Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Restricted gift of The Dave Hokin Foundation, 1995.119.1
MCA Collection Artwork #4 Joshua Nathanson, American, b. 1973 Is it late yet?, 2015 Acrylic and oil stick on canvas 84 × 61 1/16 in. (213.4 × 155.1 cm) Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gift of Mary and Earle Ludgin by exchange, 2016.9
MCA Collection Artwork #5 Gertrude Abercrombie, American, 1909–1977 The Courtship, 1949 Oil on Masonite Framed: 28 × 31 ¾ in. (71.1 × 80.6 cm) Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gift of the Gertrude Abercrombie Trust, 1978.56

On April 4, 2020, the artworks were shared to the Museum’s Twitter and Instagram Story alongside this 3-2-1 prompt:

  • Make three observations
  • Name two experiences the artwork reminds you of, or two people you want to see this
  • Pose one question to other viewers.

The 3-2-1 prompt was so intriguing that I decided to try it myself while looking at Africano’s “I get hurt”. I included my reflections below in the hope that it might inspire more museums and participants.

  • Observations: The color-palette is melancholy and, to me, it invokes a sense of stillness. The spacious background of Africano’s painting reminded me of how the current pandemic has hightened feelings of isolation for many people; it is a powerful visualization of how relationship and communication issues create loneliness.
  • Experiences: I thought of the times when I confronted friends and family members with grief or anger. The central figure’s hand-over-heart gesture made me remember the last time I cried, when I had gotten overwhelmed by all the minor annoyances of life during the pandemic.
  • Question: The question I would pose to other viewers is this: When was the last time you were honest about your emotions with someone close to you?

The team and I have been encouraged that so many Slow Art Day events during the pandemic fostered a much-needed sense of community through art. We look forward to seeing another great Slow Art Day event from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, in 2021.

– Johanna