Gardiner Museum Hosts Sense-ational Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day, The Gardiner Museum in Toronto, Canada, hosted an immersive virtual event with a multi-sensory focus.

On April 4, four photos of Linda Swanson’s TEMPLUM OF A PRECIOUS THING OF NO VALUE, A SHAPELESS THING OF MANY SHAPES, 2020, were shared to social media in intervals. An event outline was also available as a downloadable PDF, which can be viewed in full here. Because their session was so well designed, we have included more detail in the excerpted prompts below.

Participants were encouraged to spend 5-10 minutes with each photo, and consider the accompanying prompts and questions:

View of Linda Swanson’s TEMPLUM OF A PRECIOUS THING OF NO VALUE, A SHAPELESS THING OF MANY SHAPES, 2020, Clay, water, metal, nylon, wood.
Part of the RAW Exhibition at The Gardiner Museum. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Imagine yourself seated on the bench next to the installation. Take in the full picture. Let your eyes move slowly around the image as you absorb what you’re seeing.

  • Focus on each individual element of the work. What kinds of lines and shapes do you notice?
  • Consider the areas of light and shadow. How does the lighting influence the mood or feel of the installation?
  • What do you think you’ll see as you move closer? What textures and patterns might appear?
View of Linda Swanson’s TEMPLUM OF A PRECIOUS THING OF NO VALUE, A SHAPELESS THING OF MANY SHAPES, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Once again, take in the full picture. Let your eyes move slowly around the image as you grasp this new perspective and information.

  • What do you notice now that you may not have perceived in the first image? Does this change your impression or understanding of the work?
  • Shift your attention to the cables. What kinds of shapes and forms do you notice in the negative space around and between the cables?
  • Consider the weight of the water contained in each membrane. Close your eyes and imagine that your arms are the cables holding them above the ground. What do you experience?
View of Linda Swanson’s TEMPLUM OF A PRECIOUS THING OF NO VALUE, A SHAPELESS THING OF MANY SHAPES, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Again, take in the full picture. Let your eyes move slowly around the image as you register the new details.

  • How does this perspective add to or change your interpretation of the artwork up to this point?
  • Close your eyes and picture yourself gently pressing a finger against the nylon membrane. Feel the weight of the water shifting. Does it remind you of a sensation you’ve experienced before?
  • Narrow in on the water droplets that are gathered on the membrane. Imagine poking them with your finger. How would the water feel running down your hand?
View of Linda Swanson’s TEMPLUM OF A PRECIOUS THING OF NO VALUE, A SHAPELESS THING OF MANY SHAPES, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

For the last time, let your eyes move slowly around the image as you take it in.

  • What would it feel like to run your fingers through the clay? To pick up a handful.
  • Close your eyes and imagine the smell of the clay, both dry and wet. What does it smell like? Is it earthy? Musty? Chalky?
  • Now consider the work as its own ecosystem or world. How would you describe it to a friend? How would you articulate its look, feel, and smell?

This was such a well-designed slow looking session that we hope more people who are reading this on the Slow Art Day website will take the time to go through this event themselves.

The Gardiner Museum is one of many museums that had to quickly re-think how to keep the public engaged with art during the Covid19 pandemic. By using photos and descriptive prompts of the installation from their special exhibition RAW, they successfully produced an imaginative multi-sensory experience – even with the added element of being virtual.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we absolutely love how immersive this event was. It reminded us how powerfully our minds can conjure up the real-life experiences of textures, shapes, weight, and scents.

We very much hope that The Gardiner Museum will continue hosting Slow Art Day events – and in their actual museum space in 2021.

– Johanna

Note: The listed prompts were selected from the original, full list of prompts provided by The Gardiner Museum.




Slow Looking with Bisa Butler’s Stunning Portraits

For the second Slow Art Day hosted by the Katonah Museum of Art (KMA), the museum focused on its Bisa Butler: Portraits exhibit. Renowned for her use of fabric and traditional quilting techniques, Butler reimagines historical black figures and culture in her art, often taking classic photos and turning them into vibrant, multi-colored textiles.

On April 4, 2020, detailed images from one of Butler’s amazing quilts titled ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ were shared to Facebook and Instagram.

Bisa Butler, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ 2019, Cotton, wool and chiffon, quilted and appliquéd, 50 x 129 in. (127 x 327.6 cm). Private collection, promised gift on long-term loan to Minneapolis Institute of Art.

We show the full image first (above), but the museum did not include it in their initial posts. Instead, they posted four close-up images (below), captioned with short prompts to encourage deep reflection. Participants were then invited to an in-depth Zoom discussion, led by Marijane, a KMA docent, to explore the whole exhibit and slowly look at some of Butler’s amazing work.

Detail 1: Bisa Butler, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ 2019.
Detail 2: Bisa Butler, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ 2019.
Detail 3: Bisa Butler, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ 2019.
Detail 4: Bisa Butler, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ 2019.

Butler’s stunning textiles are often based on important black and white photographs – the one above of four women sitting on the steps of Atlanta College in 1900.

This particular work engages with complex ideasranging from change, power and freedom, to historical symbols of wealth culturethrough Butler’s carefully curated patterns and colors. Of course, the title of this work borrows from the title of Nobel-Prize winning poet and writer Maya Angelou’s debut memoir in 1969.

The event was very well received across social media and Zoom. Many participants followed up the event with positive feedback such as:

Thanks for the incredible up close views!

Such a wonderful tour.  Thanks so much for making my day.

This was AMAZING!!  Thank you so much for hosting slow art day and for hosting it virtually!!!!

PARTICIPANT QUOTES

At Slow Art Day HQ, we also love Butler’s art and her powerful textiles. These are amazing to slowly look at online and we can only imagine what they are like to see hanging on the museum’s walls. The museum is currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but when the KMA re-opens, we recommend you go if you are near northern Westchester County, New York.

Finally, we note that over 80% of artists from collections across 18 major U.S. museums are still both male and white according to a 2019 survey by PLoS ONE; we are grateful that the KMA is helping to change that.

– Johanna and Ashley

Jigsaws and Meditative Drawing with the Georgia Museum of Art

For their 5th Slow Art Day, the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, Georgia, combined two meditative art techniques by artist Anna Bogatin Ott: Slow Looking and Slow Drawing.

Slow Looking

For the slow looking activity, participants were invited to look closely at the painting Aurora by Anna Bogatin Ott, and were guided by prompts via a PDF file, such as:

  • “How do the repetitive marks guide your gaze around the painting?”
  • “Imagine the painting so far away it becomes a speck, then zoom in so close that it’s touching your nose.”
Anna Bogatin Ott (American, b. Ukraine 1970), Aurora (River Wanderings 7714), 2014 – 15. Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches (122 x 122 centimeters). Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of the artist, GMOA 2017.34.

Since Ott’s art is inspired by nature, participants were also encouraged to reflect on similarities between the colors of the painting and nature.

“I engage all my senses, dissolve into surrounding sounds, become immersed in the nature’s logic of being, and then, from memory, I recreate my experiences in drawings and paintings.”

Anna Bogatin Ott

Slow Drawing

For the slow drawing part of the event, participants were encouraged to draw horizontal lines while trying to stay in touch with their physical sensations focusing attention on the sound of their breath, the feel of the texture of the paper, and the visual effect of negative and positive space between the lines. The activity became a mindful way of remaining present through a multi-sensory art experience.

Slow Drawing Instructions (PDF) for Slow Art Day, 2020, by The Georgia Museum of Art.

Pre-event Virtual Jigsaw Puzzle

Leading up to the main event, the museum shared a virtual interactive jigsaw puzzle of their featured painting to their Facebook page. Several participants completed the jigsaw, and the post reached 647 readers.

Virtual jigsaw of Anna Bogatin Ott’s Aurora, available: www.jigsawplanet.com. Courtsey of The Georgia Museum of Art. Screenshot by Johanna.

Without being formally promoted, their event was a social media success with over 2000 Instagram impressions and 185 Facebook interactions.

The Slow Art Day HQ team has loved participating in these mindful activities. They made us feel centered and at peace, which is a big part of what Slow Art Day is all about.

We look forward to seeing more of The Georgia Museum of Art’s immersive events – hopefully for Slow Art Day 2021.

-Johanna and Ashley

Slow Art Day makes you happy

We hope you’re as excited for Slow Art Day 2018 (just three months away!) as we are! One of this year’s hosts, Karolina Fabelova of Kunstzeichnen in Germany, certainly is – check out the great video she made all about Slow Art Day!

Inaugural podcast with Prof. Arden Reed

Listen to the inaugural Slow Art Day live podcast recorded Tuesday, June 13, 2017 with Slow Art Day hosts around the world and our special guest Professor Arden Reed discussing his forthcoming book, Slow Art: The Experience of Looking, Sacred Images to James Turrell.
You can download the podcast or listen to it below.

View Dr. Reed’s slides simultaneously while listening to the podcast by downloading his powerpoint here.

About Professor Reed
Professor Arden Reed is the Arthur and Fanny Dole Professor of English at Pomona College. Recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Clark Art Institute, he writes on the visual arts and literature, including Manet, Flaubert and the Emergence of Modernism and the prize-winning Romantic Weather: the Climates of Coleridge and Baudelaire.

He was one of Jacques Derrida’s first American graduate students. Trained in comparative literature, Reed authored a prize-winning study of Coleridge and Baudelaire (mentioned above). His career as a scholar of literature was interrupted in 1984, when he experienced a conversion. An encounter with Max Beckmann’s triptych The Actors at the Fogg Museum pivoted Reed’s field of study to the visual arts. His Manet book mentioned above has been translated into French and Spanish.

His forthcoming book 
Professor Reed’s latest book Slow Art: The Experience of Looking, Sacred Images to James Turrell (University of California Press, to be published late June 2017) is about attending to visual images in a culture of distraction, specifically extending the six to 10 seconds that Americans, on average, spend looking at individual works on museums walls and why that matters.

The research and writing of his latest book was supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship, and residencies at the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center at Bellagio, the Clark Art Institute, and the American Academy in Rome. Reed has given presentations on slow art, among other venues, at the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, King’s College Cambridge University, the Chicago Humanities Festival, and the École normale supérieure in Paris.

Buy and read his book
Professor Reed’s newest book is a foundational book for the slow art movement and we highly recommend that all Slow Art Day hosts read it.

Listeners to the podcast can receive a 30% discount to the book if they order from the University of California press. To get the discount, order online via www.ucpress.edu. Just enter code 16V6526 at checkout.

Inaugural Slow Art Day webinar with special guest Dr. Arden Reed

Slow Art Day is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, June 13 at 11 AM EST for the slow art community and other interested participants featuring special guest Arden Reed.

Dr. Reed is a professor of English and Art History at Pomona College. His latest book Slow Art: The Experience of Looking, Sacred Images to James Turrell (University of California Press, French translation Editions Hermann) is about attending to visual images in a culture of distraction, specifically extending the six to 10 seconds that Americans, on average, spend looking at individual works on museums walls and why that matters.

Dr. Reed will discuss his new book (which will be published on the date of the webinar – June 13) and answer questions from participants.

More info and registration here: bit.ly/2p5TSvr

First Slow Art Day in Hamburg, Germany

Slow Art Day 2017, Kunsthalle Hamburg, Friederike Redlbacher

Host Friederike Redlbacher of Kunsthalle Hamburg, Germany writes of their Slow Art Day 2017 experience:

“We looked at three different works of art by Lorrain, Chagall and Böcklin. To connect deeper with the artwork and ourselves I guided the group with reflective questions like ‘What in the artwork is drawing your attention?’ or ‘How did this situation came about and how could it develop?’. This encouraged the participants to deeply engage with what they saw. After a silent period of looking we shared our thoughts and perceptions. Listening to what the others saw, opened a whole new perspective to the artwork but also to the way of looking at art. To look slowly and engage oneself with the art is a truly inspiring experience.”

Slow Art Day 2017 in Cologne, Germany

Slow lookers at Jorn Keseberg’s studio in Cologne.

Host Sabine Klement writes,

Slow Art Day 2017 in Cologne took place at Jörn Keseberg’s studio in Köln-Ehrenfeld, one of the city’s most vibrant and trendiest districts, home to many artists’ studios and creative entrepreneurs.

There was a tough competition going on between beautiful, sunshine, the local soccer club having a derby and our quite avantgarde, subcultural, non-profit art event – yay! But it still worked out fabulously with about a dozen curious participants, willing to communicate on art with each other.

Instead of looking eight seconds at each artwork – the average museumvisitors’ attentionspan – we donated ten minutes to six (oops, one plus…) pre-selected art objects. As a result of hosting Slow Art Day for several years, I decided to give a signal every ten minutes to let the visitors know when to change their site. In the beginning most find it challenging to fix their attention for “such a long time” at one item. But the ability (or willingness?) to concentrate and to get involved more deeply grows swiftly.

As an artist, Jörn Keseberg is engaging with the connections between technology, nature, art and man – topics that concern every modern human being. He composes objects that captivate every viewer’s interest instantaneously with an unique mixture of beauty and weirdness, even horror. He frequently combines natural materials like time-worn rare timbers, small animal-bones or leaves with electronic components as parts of hard disks and draws on unlimited resources of aesthetically appealing bits and pieces. Accordingly there was an abundant supply of inspiring details to detect and ideas to discuss for the participants –
we couldn’t manage to wait until the obligatory “after-show-meeting!” Very happy visitors and promoter had coffee and cake afterwards at the café around the corner!

A huge THANKYOU♥ to the artist for inviting us to his studio! Looking forward to do it again next year, April 14 ;).

The Museo de Eduardo Carrillo’s Virtual Slow Art Day event

The Museo de Eduardo Carrillo is a virtual museum with a web-only presence, but they didn’t let that stop them from participating in Slow Art Day 2017! On April 8, they encouraged their audience to engage in a virtual slow looking and discussion session.

Their instructions to their followers were:

Starting at 7AM, use your cell phone to visit Museo Eduardo Carrillo’s online gallery, presenting art by painter Frank Galuszka with an essay by Christina Waters.

Richly textured paintings and narrative complement each other. As does the exploration of the central theme in many of the paintings highlighted here “On View.”

On Slow Art Day choose one of Galuszka’s paintings, spend at least five minutes looking slowly at it and then post a comment on Museo’s ON VIEW page.

Comments from participants included:

I’ll tell you what I see in Frank’s beautiful works of art. I see various demonstrations of how the our quantum universe works shown in a painting. As important to me is what isn’t the focus of the paintings (the background) and its relationship to the focus or central theme. They are great demonstrations of the “particle-wave” theory of quantum physics. Out of a background of uncertainty or potential (waves) is contrasted a central character or theme (particles). But the painting shows the visual and the non visual world it is all “one.” What materializes out of a field of unlimited potential is what the observer (artist) wants to see.

 

I had already viewed Frank’s paintings. The one that I liked the most was “The Threshold.” I interpret that as 2 individuals on different journeys, about to step over the threshold from their journey to the journey the other has taken. Neither journey is better than the other person has endured. Each one trying to leave pain and sorrow behind,
i.e. the broken glass, the dead rabbit, the sharp saw blades, the broken/leaking pipe, the rough road – all obstacles along their way.

Slow Art Day 2017 at the deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum

Host Rachael Nease at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA, writes of their Slow Art Day 2017 experience:

This was the first year that deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum decided to take part in the event, but it will not be our last!
Our museum guide, Judith Scott, led some close-looking of both painted and sculptural artworks featured in our Expanding Abstraction: New England Women Painters, 1950 to Now exhibition and our permanent sculpture park collection. The sculptural piece was a brave choice – a male nude formed in cast iron that has been intentionally allowed to age over the years with a rust patina. One of our Slow Art participants admitted he had been coming to the museum and avoiding this sculpture for years, but the opportunity to look closely and discuss the object had given him a new appreciation for the sculpture.
The photo is of part of the group with Maud Morgan’s Gold Coast II. Taking time to really look at this seemingly simple painting, our visitors were surprised at the details they were able to pick out and discuss – we actually had to pull them away to move on to the sculpture!
At the conclusion of the event, one of our participants summed up her experience, telling us that she had never thought to slow down to appreciate the art that she loved and often visited. The experience, she said, will change the way she looks and experiences artworks.

Slow looking with Maud Morgan’s Gold Coast II at the deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum