Japanese Women Artists: Slow Art Day at the Gardiner Museum

For their second Slow Art Day, the Gardiner Museum in Toronto (ON), Canada, created a slow looking video that focused on two ceramic sculptures by renowned Japanese women artists:

  • Fujikasa Satoko Hiten; Seraphim, 2016 Stoneware with white slip glaze.
    The Diana Reitberger Collection
  • Hattori Makiko. Ryū: Flow, 2017 Unglazed porcelainous stoneware
    The Diana Reitberger Collection
Fujikasa Satoko Hiten; Seraphim, 2016 Stoneware with white slip glaze. 23 1/4 x 25 1/8 x 17 3/4 in. The Diana Reitberger Collection

Hattori Makiko. Ryū: Flow, 2017 Unglazed porcelainous stoneware.
The Diana Reitberger Collection

On April 10, the museum invited participants to watch the below video showcasing the sculptures.

We recommend that museum educators and Slow Art Day fans around the world watch this simple and lovely slow looking video. The video is also accessible through the Museum’s website and social media channels: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

For those interested in the history of Japanese women sculptors, we recommend this article published in Pen [ペン]: Japan’s Female Ceramists Celebrated on the International Stage.

Slow Art Day 2021 video created by the Gardiner Museum. Music: White Lotus by Kevin Macleoud


While watching the video, participants were given the following prompts to better engage with the artworks:

Seraphim

  • Outline the sculpture with your eyes, noticing each bump and curve.
  • Trace the outline of the shadow at the base of the sculpture.
  • Look at the negative space created around and within the piece. What shapes do you see?
  • Observe the different areas of shadow and light. Try to identify all the various tones of grey, white, and black.
  • What would you title this piece?

Ryū: Flow

  • Look at the object as a whole. What does it look like to you? Does it remind you of anything familiar?
  • Observe the texture of the piece from a distance. What do you think it will look like up close?
  • What do think this piece would feel like to touch? Imagine resting your hand against it.
  • Pick a point along one of the little ribbons and follow it with your eyes, weaving among the spirals and folds. What shapes can you create?
  • Imagine picking up the sculpture. How heavy do you think it would be? Feel its weight in your hands.
  • If you were picking a spot to display this piece, where would you put it? Close your eyes and visualize it there.


Participants responded well to the video. We include some of their comments below:

I love experiencing the movements in such quietness. Thanks for showing us!

Participant’s quote


Wonderful pieces, beautifully shot! I could see the flow and feel the texture.

Participant’s quote.


Both beautiful pieces, a very meditative relaxing view of each individually. I really enjoyed looking at these two pieces in this way.

Participant’s quote


Such a lovely escape.

Participant’s quote


It is SLOW ART DAY… and the Gardiner Museum has released this wonderful 5 minute video designed to help us pause and reflect in the midst of our busy lives. What a great idea!

Participant’s quote



We at Slow Art Day HQ loved the video and the prompts. The mindful connection with the ceramic sculptures recreated and enhanced the experience.

We are considering a global tour of Slow Art Day museums, perhaps starting next summer. We would definitely love to visit the Gardiner Museum and see these beautiful sculptures in person.

And, of course, we look forward to what the Gardiner Museum comes up with for Slow Art Day 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

Relax and Re-energize: Slow Art Day at Galleria l’Arte di Seta

For their first Slow Art Day, the Galleria l’Arte di Seta, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, organized a mindful Zoom session on April 10, featuring three different paintings:

  • Camille Pissarro. A Creek in St. Thomas (Virgin Islands), 1856.
  • Auguste Renoir , Jeune Espagnole jouant de la guitare, 1898.
  • Vasily Kandinsky, Composition 8 (Komposition 8), 1923.
Camille Pissarro. A Creek in St. Thomas (Virgin Islands), 1856.
Oil on academy board, 24.5 x 32.2 cm, Courtesy of National Gallery, Washington.
Auguste Renoir , Jeune Espagnole jouant de la guitare, 1898.
Oil on canvas, 55.6 x 65.2 cm. Courtesy of National Gallery Washington
Vasily Kandinsky, Composition 8 (Komposition 8), 1923.
Oil on canvas, 140.3 x 200.7 cm. Courtesy of Guggenheim Museum.

Participants joined the two-hour Zoom session, which included 10 minute observation of each of the three paintings, followed by discussion.

Lidija Drobež, founder of Galleria l’Arte di Seta, was positively surprised by the enthusiasm and depth of insight from the participants. In fact, to foster even deeper discussion, she said the gallery might focus on one or two pieces of art next year.

Several participants left wonderful feedback.

“When I heard the title of event I was sceptical. After the session I can say that it was not only relaxing and reenergising but it gave me a lot of insights about myself.”

Ana Tijssen – Slow Art Day participant

“I joined the session out of simple curiosity. For the first time in my life I took more time to view a painting: I discovered things which took me by surprise. What I take out of whole event, is how diverse insights participants obtained and yet our conversation was open and positive all the time.”

Monika K. – Slow Art Day participant

“The more I was focusing on the paintings, the more it made me realise how everything is connected in life. For example – much more than being fond of traveling, I am fond of living in foreign countries and during the Slow Art Day session I realised why. When I allowed myself to stop and take time to be with the painting it was only then when I could feel a deeper connection and a sense of familiarity. It is the same with foreign countries – traveling through them seems like rushing through the gallery from one famous painting to another – the experience may appear fleeting and empty. Living in a foreign country, on the contrary, is like taking time to get to know the “painting” in depth, which feels meaningful and enriching.”

Anja Humljan – Slow Art Day participant

“I really appreciated the event, because it created the possibility of valuing different ways of seeing. One was to connect with myself and rediscover the joy of personal discovery almost like a child. And, of course, last but not least, I really enjoyed the insights and comments of other participants.”

Nenad Filipovic – Slow Art Day participant

Due to the enthusiastic response to the event by participants, the Gallery plans to organize an in-person event later this year once they can re-open. Visit their Instagram account to stay updated with their work.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the passion for slow looking that Lidija Drobež and her participants show. We must admit that our original design for Slow Art Day was to have participants look for one hour at one painting, but we decided that might be too intimidating. Yet, we still know the power of even slower looking, and are thus excited to see what Lidija Drobež comes up with for 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley

5-in-1 at Albany Institute’s First Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day, the Albany Institute of History and Art in Albany, NY, hosted five interconnected virtual events:

  • Social media slow looking activity
  • Word clouds from the virtual activity
  • Slow panning video
  • Wellness workshop
  • A “look & learn” for families

On April 10, the museum started their Slow Art Day by sharing three artworks to Instagram.

Viewers were asked to respond with one-word descriptions of the images, which the museum turned into word clouds to illustrate the feelings evoked. “Breezy”, “depth” and “freedom” were frequent responses.

The museum also produced a slow looking video that features the sculpture “The Fist” by Alice Morgan Wright. Viewers were encouraged to find a quiet space, silence their technology, take a few deep breaths, and observe the sculpture for one minute in silence. The video slowly circles the sculpture, allowing viewers to see it from every angle. At the end of the minute, the video moderator guides participants through thought provoking questions about the sculpture. View the video below and try this slow-looking activity for yourself.

Slow looking video of Alice Morgan Wright, ‘The Fist’, 1921. Video produced by The Albany Insitute of History and Art.

For the Zoom-based wellness workshop ‘Making Meaning: Meditating on Artwork as Wellness’, participants were guided through an hour of exploring, viewing, and discussing works of art with licensed art therapist Chloe Hayward. They were also invited to share an object from their personal space as a vehicle for connecting to the artworks. The session ended with a guided meditation.

People responded positively to the digital events hosted by the Albany Institute, with one participant calling them “invaluable at this time”. Victoria Waldron, Education Assistant at the Albany Institute, said the Albany Institute’s first Slow Art Day program was a success, with 60+ combined participant and social media interactions.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that the Albany Institute of History and Art chose to host five connected events for their first Slow Art Day, and are already excited to see what they plan for Slow Art Day 2022.

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley

What’s in a Name? Titles and Emotions at MART

On April 10th, the Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto (MART) in Rovereto, Italy, organized a virtual Slow Art Day event that focused on re-titling artworks based on participants’ emotional experiences of slow looking.

Images of three artworks from the MART collection were emailed to the 15 registered participants ahead of joining a Zoom session. Once in the virtual session, participants were given 45 minutes to look slowly at three artworks. They then split into 3 discussion groups, each led by a coordinator, that focused on the emotions and observations of the participants while viewing the works. Participants were then asked to give each artwork their own title based on emotions experienced during the slow looking. The day after the session, participants were sent a brief profile of each artwork that included the emotional titles, the actual title, and the name of the artist, date, and art movement.

Below is one of the artworks along with a word cloud of the emotional titles given by the participants. Some of these translate to: “Disgust”, “Towards tomorrow?”, “Artist’s self-portrait”, “Who am I?”.

Arnulf Rainer, Splitter, 1971
Pastel and oil on photography, cm 60,5 x 50,5, Mart
Titles assigned to the artwork by the participants.

The event was well recieved by all the attendees, with one participant commenting:

“See how this way of following art stimulates a lot of creativity in us. Beautiful. We are like amateur jazz improvisers, extemporizing on a score!”

Participant Quote

That’s right. Slow looking is like jazz improvisation. We love this design of MART’s first official Slow Art Day event and hope that others decide to copy this.

Note that their Slow Art Day was not their first slow looking series. In 2020, local art enthusiast and MART member Piero Consolati approached Denise Bernabe, the Membership Coordinator at MART, about the possibility of organizing slow art sessions. Thanks to their initiative, MART has hosted nine slow art sessions since May 2020, which are now held monthly at the museum (so far, mostly virtually).

At Slow Art Day HQ we are delighted that slow looking has become a staple activity for the MART Museum. Denise Bernabe and Piero Consolati share updates with us about the status of slow art at MART throughout the year.

We look forward to MART’s continued events throughout the year, and their celebration of Slow Art Day in 2022.

– Johanna, Jessica and Ashley