Tomorrow is Slow Art Day, a day that encourages slow, detailed looking at art. You will find that when you spend more time with a work of art, you make discoveries that you would not otherwise experience. My colleague at the BMA Katie Bachler and I came up with some suggestions for exploring art slowly at the museum.
Explore art slowly
Allow yourself to look at only 3-5 works of art during your visit. With those 3-5 works, spend longer time with each work, as if they were old friends you are happy to see, and soak in their energy. As you spend time with each work, allow yourself to notice new details, subtle colors and textures, and even the space around the art. Being with works of art in this way can be very relaxing. Resist temptations to overthink concepts and ideas and try to spend more time with the sensual qualities in each work of art.
Here are some selected works and some slow ways to enjoy being with them.
Find William Picknell’s large painting Paysage (A Winter Day in Brittany) in the American Wing. (A Visitor Services Associate can point you to the central gallery on the east side of the Wing.)
As you look at the painting, take a breath. Breathe in for 4 counts and out for 8 counts. Notice the space around the person and the cool, crisp air. Imagine the sound of the horse trotting and the smell of the wet earth.
Take a second breath. Walk closer. Notice the myriad shades of vivid colors hidden in the brown and grey tones. Take a close up photograph of your favorite hidden colors.
Take a third breath. Just be with the painting. Where does your eye go? Where does your mind go?
Once in this contemplative space, head over to the European galleries. Find the still life by Dutch artist Abraham Mignon, Garland of Fruit and Flowers.
Notice the fruits and flowers brimming with life as they reach forward, out of the darkness.
Step closer. Imagine hearing the water droplets falling to the ground. Listen closely to hear the fluttering wings of the moths and the sounds of the insects eating away at the foliage.
Take a deep breath. Imagine a time lapse. What will happen in 10 minutes, 11 days, 12 weeks, 13 months, 14 years?
Meander over to the Contemporary Wing. Find the sculpture by John McCracken, Untitled (Light Chromium Yellow Plank).
Breathe in and imagine your body lengthening to the height of the piece.
Breathe out slowly and allow your body to relax. Stand comfortably like this for a little while, taking in the brilliant yellow shaft of sunlight embodied.
Take a few steps to the side of the piece and notice the gentle way it rests against the wall. Take in the subtle grey tones of the shadows that fan softly onto the wall.
Breathe in and step close to the surface of the sculpture. Breathe out and notice your reflection on the surface. Continue observing the surface and notice the space around you also reflected. Stand quietly feeling the space around you and between you and the sculpture.
These are just a few ways that you can explore the BMA slowly. Be sure to sit and relax while at the museum exploring the art. On Slow Art Day, you can also attend our 10 Chairs event. Reflect with 10 scholars on 10 iterations of the humble chair in the BMA’s collection.
Slow Art Day is April 11th, 2015. 10 Chairs is on at the BMA from 2pm-4pm.