Open to Being Slow in Virginia

For their first Slow Art Day on April 10, 2021, Open to Being, a community-building organization based in Arlington, Virginia, hosted a virtual slow looking event and set of interactive exercises.

Theresa Esterlund, the founder of Open to Being, led a 45-minute session focused on artist Foon Sham’s outdoor sculpture ‘Ridge’ (2018), and participants were invited to join via Zoom or Facebook Live.

Foon Sham. Ridge. 2018. Public installation located in Oakland Park, Arlington, Virginia.
Photograph by Theresa Esterlund.

After looking slowly at the sculpture for 7-10 minutes, participants were invited to share and discuss their observations using the following questions and creative prompts:

Questions

  • What did the experience feel like to you?
  • What surprised you?
  • What inspired you?
  • What sparked your curiosity?
  • What do you remember the most?

Creative prompts

  • Write a 6 word story or Haiku
  • Use scraps of paper or other materials to build something
  • Take a photo
  • Design a symbol
  • Draw

Pictures and notes submitted by the participants in response to the creative prompts

The event was well received, and participants felt that the program was very accessible:

“I really appreciated the way your program unfolded. I did feel like I was transported to the park in a way, it was engaging in that we could almost compare notes with each other as guests on Zoom.”

Participant’s comment

With 25 years of experience in science, history, and art museum education, Esterlund is also an artist who now teaches yoga and meditation alongside her work with Open to Being. She sees a clear connection between slow looking at art and mindfulness:

“Looking at art slowly is an opportunity to practice mindfulness – being with everything that’s going on at any given moment and experiencing everything without judging or getting caught up in it. That kind of experience can lead to openings, which might be experienced long after the program. The emphasis was on the experience, with the artwork as a pathway and essential element of that experience, rather than on the art itself.”

Theresa Esterlund

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love it when hosts integrate slow looking, mindfulness and play. We can’t wait to see what creative design Esterlund comes up with for Slow Art Day 2022.

-Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

PS. You can view a recording of the event, and check out the Open to Being Facebook page for more information about upcoming events.

Hermitage Museum Succeeds with Free Admission

The Hermitage Museum in Norfolk, VA saw a terrific turnout for their Slow Art Day in 2019. 50+ participants attended and enjoyed the art of slowing down.

To generate a strong turnout, they decided to offer free admission for Slow Art Day participants, and they also increased social media promotion.

Participants gave quite positive feedback including this visitor:

“I really enjoyed the concept, and taking the time to [slow down]… it forces you to really take in what you’re viewing.”

The museum looks forward to participating in Slow Art Day 2020.

Here’s a photo from the event below:

Ashley

Virginia MOCA Slow Art Day 2019

The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art focused on key pieces in the exhibit, The Rest of History, which explores groups (minorities, women, etc.) that have been underrepresented in history. Slow Art Day also coincided with Military Family Appreciation Day at VirginiaMOCA so a number of families came and did slow looking together.

I never would have spent the time to look at these pieces and make the type of connections I did without this event.

– PARTICIPANT (A MOTHER OF A FAMILY OF FOUR)

Looking at oil on Mylar portraits from Charles Edward Williams. Photo copyright Jim Setzer.

Phil

Notes From Hosts: Mim Scalin

notesfromhosts

Greetings from Richmond, VA, USA

Slow Art Day 2014! I can’t wait.
I’ve got lots of people signed up (45), and have been keeping in touch with them on a regular basis. I hope they all show up!
It’s going to be an exciting event.
I’ve chosen 3 pieces from the 20th century galleries and 2 from an area under viewed for sure, sporting life, which is mainly British paintings ofhorse and dogs from the 1800s. 
Won’t people be surprised!
 
Instead of making buttons this year, I made labels on adhesive backed paper. 
 
Slow Art Day labels
 
I look forward to seeing everyone’s photos from the event.
 
Best wishes to all,
Mim Golub Scalin
volunteer host
Sign up to participate in this event here.