Participants joined Christian Adame, Peggy L. Osher Director of Learning and Community Collaboration, to look in-person with intention and attention at three works of art (pictured below) for a total of 90 minutes.
More information, including a video of the exhibition, can be found here. Be sure to explore the entire page as the selected works featured online are striking and evocative. Portland Art Museum also holds slow looking events throughout the year on an intermittent basis. Information on those events, and when they will be held, can be found on their calendar.
P.S. We want to recognize the long-time leadership of Christian Adame who first hosted Slow Art Day at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento in 2013. When he later moved to the Phoenix Art Museum he brought it there, and then, more recently, when he was hired by the Portland Museum of Art he again brought Slow Art Day with him. Christian is the pied-piper of our movement.
On Saturday April 2, 2022, The Wallace Collection in London hosted “Looking Slowly: Slow Art Day 2022” online. Organized by Miranda K. Gleaves and hosted by Oliver Jones and History of Art lecturer Jo Rhymer, the 136 attendees were guided through an hour of slow looking focused on a single painting, An Allegory of Fruitfulness, by Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678).
The event was very well received with participants saying things like –
“Thank you. I can not even imagine from now on, rushing through paintings. This is such a nice experience”.
Later in the month of April, they hosted “Slow Art”, a two-day online event where they helped participants develop skills in visual analysis and active looking. We’ve asked them for more details on their curriculum, or anything we can share with the global Slow Art Day community.
Further, we are happy to say that The Wallace Collection is one of a growing number of institutions that also hosts slow looking sessions throughout the year as a part of their public programming schedule.
You can find The Wallace Collection on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. We can’t wait to see what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2023.
We just finished our first ever Slow Art Day team retreat with founder Phyl Terry (U.S.) and global team members Ashley Moran (U.S.), Jessica Jane Nocella (Italy), and Johanna Bokedal (Norway). We came together in New York and Philadelphia for nine days of slow art, friendship, and fun.
We will be posting several reports highlighting our time together at:
MoMA (New York)
The Met (New York)
The Whitney (New York)
The Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia)
The Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
Like happens all over the world with Slow Art Day, looking slowly deepened our ability to see from multiple perspectives, to love art even more, and to create closer bonds of friendship and community with each other.
In the reports that follow, we’ll share what we saw, what we learned, and the simple slow looking algorithm we used at each venue.
Highlights include our coordinated dresses at MoMA, our long conversation and slow looking with the Director of Education at the Barnes Foundation (and a very interesting idea he floated), and our time with the team at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
We are sad to end our retreat.
The good news, though, is we are looking forward to visiting other participating Slow Art Day institutions in future years around the world.
And, we are even beginning to put together a global Slow Art conference in 2025 in partnership with a great art museum (more on that in the next several months).
With much love,
Phyl, Ashley, Jessica Jane, and Johanna
P.S. Our longtime global coordinator Maggie Freeman, who is studying for a PhD in Islamic Art & Architecture at MIT, could not join us for this one, but we look forward to future summer retreats with her.
The Slow Art Day collective delivered the closing keynote last Friday for Tiempo de Arte‘s conference in Spain. Our two European HQ members, Johanna Bokedal (Sweden) and Jessica Jane Nocella (Italy) traveled to Spain while our U.S.-based founder, Phyl Terry, participated via Zoom from New York.
The conference took place in the Centro Botín: an arts centre designed by Pritzker Prize-winner architect Renzo Piano, in collaboration with Luis Vidal and Architects. It is located between the city centre of Santander and the historic Pereda Garden, and the bay.
The conference was opened by the Organizing Committee of Tiempo de Arte, the Director of Centre Botín, the Mayor of Santander, and by the Tourism Director of Cantabria. Then, Writer Carl Honoré gave a talk on “La Revolución Slow: La Magia de la Lentitud” (lit.: the revolution of slow: the magic of slowness). In his engaging speech, Carl stressed the importance of slowing down in a high-speed world. He also talked about the importance of what he calls “the slow paradoxes” – i.e., how sometimes you can slow down to go fast, or how disconnecting from your phone can reconnect you to the world around you.
Carl’s talk was then followed by different interesting roundtables on various topics, which ranged from sustainable collecting to the role of humanism in the digital world.
On the second day, the conference opened with a dialogue between the award-winning chef Jesús Sánchez, and the sculpor José Luis Vicario. They talked about how encounters and meetings can be an opportunity to slow down and discover the beauty surrounding us. This was then followed by a roundtable on art, beauty and health where experts in psychology, art, and art therapy talked about the benefits of art in different contexts.
Professor, Psychologist, and Writer Alejandra Vallejo-Nágera engaged with the audience in a slow-listening activity. She invited us to close our eyes, listen to two cellos playing, and then to communicate the music through our hands as if we had to express it to someone who was hearing-impaired. One last roundtable on tourism and art was held by the Mayors of Santander, Malaga, and Madrid.
The conference closed with our talk Slow Art Day: Design by Letting Go, which we delivered both in-person (Jessica and Johanna) and remotely (Phyl).
We began with a cross-continent slow looking exercise focused on Hans Hoffman’s Fantasia, the piece of art that kicked off the slow art revolution back in 2008.
We then showed highlights from the 2,000+ Slow Art Day events that have been held around the world. Finally, we emphasized the radically decentralized nature of Slow Art Day and our mission to create an environment of radical inclusion.
We really enjoyed giving this multi-language (our talk was simultaneously translated into Spanish), multi-continent, multi-media talk. And Johanna and Jessica, who had been working together for years but had never met, loved spending two days together in real life.
Slow Art Day HQ would like to thank Merche Zubiaga, Zaida De Las Heras, and Charo Izquierdo for inviting us to speak at their Tiempo de Arte event. We look forward to continuing to work with them to keep building the slow art movement.
Writing and talking about the art of slow looking can be difficult. Fortunately, Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times does it really well. And as we all get ready for Slow Art Day 2022, we can learn a lot from him.
A talented writer, Knight avoids ‘Art Speak’ and instead helps us slow down and look, as in this article, Baroque painter gets her due at last about the artist Artemisia Gentileschi and her painting Lucretia.
Knight looks slowly at her painting, Lucretia (below).
Here’s a great example of his observational (and writing) skills:
Light falls from murky darkness at the upper left, establishing a spectral diagonal exactly opposite to the figure’s spatial thrust toward the upper right. The dagger points directly to the place where the two diagonals cross. X marks the spot. Head tossed up and back, eyes fixed heavenward, Lucretia is about to stab herself to death.
In this passage above, he doesn’t give us a lesson on Baroque Art, he helps us see the light and dark; the composition; the position of the figure; the twist of the body; the grasp of the dagger; the contrast between the surface textures of skin, fabric and metal.
Most of all, he shows us that it’s all right there in the painting if we just slow down and look.
Final point I’ll make: Knight starts with the art and only after he has reviewed the work itself does he then get into the history, the patriarchy, and even the ‘discovery’ and celebration of Gentileschi as a Feminist icon. This is precisely how we want Slow Art Day participants to look – first at the art, then and only then might we move to a discussion about the history and theory.
Hope your planning is going well for Slow Art Day 2022.
This year I will be leading a Slow Art Day event looking at sculpture art in Heisler Park, which is a lovely outdoor park above the Pacific Ocean in Laguna Beach, California.
Hedy Buźan Founding Host, Slow Art Day
Hedy Buzan is an artist and founding host of Slow Art Day. She also helped launch the Laguna Beach Sawdust Festival, an annual arts festivalin Southern California.
Slow Art Day is committed to publishing posts like this from our hosts around the world. Here are some tips.
Have you ever wondered “Okay. – So, how do I start ‘Slow Looking’?”, or, if you are a museum educator, “How do I help a visitor slow down?”
One answer comes from the interactive art appreciation online New York Times column Close Read, written by critics Jason Farago and Arthur Lubow. They use an observational technique to closely examine work as diverse as an Albrecht Durer self portrait or a Jasper Johns abstraction.
Of course, being art historians Farago and Lubow bring context and relevance to the exploration, but this extended way of looking is a possible model for advanced slow looking sessions.
(Ed: For museum educators designing events, Slow Art Day HQ recommends a simple approach that allows participants to discover that looking slowly with no prep or expertise can be transformational; to that end resources such as this step by step process used by Brigham Young University Museum of Art for their first Slow Art Day in 2021 can be quite useful.)
While I have done a lot of slow looking (and slow painting) in my life, this series helped me see even more clearly.
This is what I notice about the Close Read method:
The critic starts by taking in the whole object and thinking about what it is – a figurative study of an interior/ exterior environment, a landscape, a ‘documentation’ of a historical event, or a self portrait.
Then they get specific describing the characters the atmosphere and the general feeling of the piece. (Incidentally, back when I was an art teacher, I would ask my students to start a critique by describing the image to a blind person, naming all the parts as specifically as they could- I found this tool helped students start really looking).
Then the critic starts in with observing parts. Noticing. Noticing. Noticing. The pose, the background, the brushwork, the characters- primary and secondary – the light and the dark passages.
Once the parts are named the critic becomes curious about each one and what it might represent- They ‘Sit with it’ and let the work reveal itself. Asking themselves: Why is this compelling?
As they notice they ponder: Why this depiction? What could that possibly mean? How does it expand the meaning of the work?
Finally they embrace context- comparing it to other works, putting it in cultural and historical context, and inviting us in to a deeper understanding.
We can expand our Slow Art experience by adopting some of the techniques above including reading about the artist’s life, comparing one artwork to another, and by looking at the works of the artist’s influencers and contemporaries….but remember our main focus, especially with the public, is on the simple art of L O O K I N G with no expertise or historical knowledge required.
To celebrate Slow Art Day 2021 when museums were locked down in England, artist Jo Essen, based in Birmingham, UK, organized a slow looking bike ride to Sarehole Mill.
The historical mill, today a museum and bakery, is well-known for its connection with J. R. R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He once lived across the road from the Mill, and it inspired his writings about Middle-earth.
Essen shared an online video from the bike ride, and encouraged others in the pandemic lockdown to get out and do some slow looking. “It was wonderful to be involved in slow looking even when we were not able to visit museums,” said Jo Essen.
So, while the British Museum, Tate Modern, the Norton Simon Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, and many other large museums ran virtual (or in-person events), and while a number of smaller museums and galleries also ran Slow Art Day sessions, 2021 also included Jo Essen and her family looking slowly at nature and architecture.
This report is a fitting final post for 2021, especially as we and the world struggle through yet another wave of the coronavirus. (Note: you can read all of our 2021 published reports, or wait for our 2021 annual report to be published in February of 2022.)
We hope you have a wonderful new year wherever you are in the world. And perhaps take some inspiration from Essen and go out and do some slow looking at nature, architecture, public art, or in museums and galleries, if they are open in your area.
Stay safe and healthy and get ready for yet another year of building the slow looking movement.
For their first Slow Art Day, the gallery ARTualize in Singapore, Singapore, organized a Mindfulness with Paintings session, encouraging participants to combine mindfulness with slow looking.
On the 10th of April, ARTualize opened their two-hour session by introducing participants to some mindfulness techniques. Participants were then invited to look slowly and mindfully at selected paintings, including Low Hai Hong’s 海天一色 (literally: Sky and Sea). This was followed by discussion.
The gallery also hosts regular ‘Mindfulness with paintings’ sessions to get more people to discover the joy of looking at art. Sessions are held every Sunday from 2 to 4 pm.
Paintings on display in the gallery are also available for rent to give people the opportunity to experience the art in their own homes. Exhibited works are changed every two months. Click here to learn more.
At Slow Art Day HQ, our mission since 2010 has been to build a slow looking and mindfulness movement around the world. As a result, one of our goals has been to use the annual event to inspire museums and galleries to host regular slow looking sessions throughout the year.
We are happy to see that ARTualize are both participants and leaders in this movement and look forward to whatever they come up with for Slow Art Day 2022.
Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl
P.S. If you would like to follow ARTualize’s updates, you can follow them on their Facebook page.
For their first Slow Art Day, the British Museum, in London, UK, collaborated with the Can Do Project, a skills-development programme for people aged 16-35 with a disability or long-term health condition, run by the resendential care company Leonard Cheshire.
The week-long Zoom-based slow looking program was initiated by the British Museum’s Volunteer Coordinator for Access, Equality and Young People, Jessica Starns, along with Leonard Cheshire’s Programme Coordinator, Deborah Sciortino.
During sessions, participants were invited to take a long look at objects from the museum collection, and observe their shapes, contours and colors. These ‘Can Doers’ then gave their opinion on what they believed the objects were used for. Afterwards, a brief history about the object was shared by a facilitator to spark further discussion. In the final session, participants were asked to choose their favorite object and create a short presentation about it. Alongside looking at objects slowly, topics such as equality and diversity, employability skills, helping visitors to make sense of their visit to the museum, and online safety on social media were covered with help from the Leonard Cheshire Marketing Team.
On April 10, 2021, the events culminated with a presentation of the participants’ favorite objects in collaboration with the Keiken Collective, which worked with the group to develop object reveal Instagram filters and create digital postcards using 3D scanned museum objects on the 3D & AR platform Sketchfab. The collective took inspiration from the fact that the British Museum has been selling postcards for over one hundred years. The presentations were pre-recorded at home by participants, then played for the group in the live session.
Thomas Winter, the Digital Marketing Volunteer at Leonard Cheshire, wrote a blog post about the events that is worth reading.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we are excited that the British Museum, together with the Can Do Project and the Keiken Collective, designed such an inclusive Slow Art Day event. It inspires all of us when educators and organizations collaborate to design new kinds of slow looking experiences.
We look forward to seeing what the British Museum comes up with for Slow Art Day in 2022 (and would love to see another collaboration).
Jessica, Johanna, Ashley, and Phyl
P.S. The British museum has an extensive volunteer programme which you can view here.
For their first Slow Art Day, Casa Regis, a non-profit association and centre for culture and contemporary art in Valdilana, Italy, featured local artists in a video and social-media-based event.
On April 10, 2021, art photographer and founder of Casa Regis, Mikelle Standbridge, uploaded a series of short videos of different artistic installations on the organization’s Instagram page.
The videos featured a soundscape of birds chirping, as Mikelle briefly introduces works by local artists Sissi Castellano, Daniele Basso, Carla Crosio, Michela Cavagna and herself. Note: the artists were selected and chosen in part because of the interesting juxtaposition of their work against the backdrop of the eighteenth-century building in which Casa Regis is located.
Below you can find pictures of the featured installations, links to the videos, and a brief description of each.
Sissi Castellano‘s silkworm cocoon installation entitled‘ ‘I AM NOT AN ARTIST‘, is based on the Japanese Mingei philosophy of objects, which the artist follows. The Mingei approach simulatenaously focuses on the function and aesthetic value of common household objects.
You can view the installation and the above video here.
Sculptor and artist Daniele Basso‘s ‘Hawk’, which comes from a series called Frames, is a stainless steel and white bronze sculpture. The artist plays with effects of mirroring, showing the complexity and the different levels of reality.
You can find a brief explanation and watch above video here.
Artist Carla Crosio‘s installation, entitled Cancer, is made of of marble, bronze and glass and it takes inspiration from her personal life.
At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the use of video for creating slow looking environments. We recommend that our museum educator and curator friends around the world watch some of the short videos that Mikelle created.
We are also happy to report that their inaugural event was so successful that they then planned in-person Slow Art day events for the rest of 2021. Excellent!
We look forward to whatever Casa Regis comes up with for Slow Art Day 2022.
Jessica, Johanna, Ashley, and Phyl
PS: A press release of the event is available in Italian here.