My high school art instructor once told the class something to the effect of, that creating art is the ability to see what others do not see. Likewise, the enjoyment of art is the ability to see what the artist sees.
I came across the term “slow art” in a newspaper advertisement for a special event at Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, a couple of years ago. The idea behind “slow art” is to spend a long time, preferably several hours, viewing only a few works of art. So, slow art is the act of seeing. It is not the act of putting brush to canvas or chisel to stone.
Our normal act of viewing art in a museum or other venue might be called “fast art”. Perhaps there is an exhibition of the works of a famous painter to be shown at the local museum. Hundreds of people are present to view the outstanding, unique paintings. Out of courtesy and practicality, each viewer can only spend a few moments looking at each painting. Hence, fast art, is the act of skimming through an art gallery, there is very little, if any, studying of each piece.
“Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.”–Khalil Gibran
Slow art is the act of being fully present and totally aware of the painting, drawing, photograph, sculpture, mobile, and so forth. It is the act of experiencing art without the benefit of an art expert or lectures. Anyone, not just connoisseurs, can enjoy slow art. In fact, its best when elitism and attitude are totally absent. Slow art is the reason why many art museums place benches in their galleries. Slow art is the act of sitting on a bench in order to comfortably study a work of art.
“A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.”– Oscar Wilde
One of the many benefits of this entirely subjective activity, is that the viewer may rediscover her or his own creativity, passion, and authentic appreciation for fine art. Who hasn’t felt deeply inspired while experiencing an amazing piece of art?
Although a person can participate in one of the many “Slow Art Days” that museums and art societies provide, you don’t need to only do slow art during those special events. You can do slow art anytime you visit a gallery. Just select one painting or other single work of art and really study it. Contemplate it and let it “get into” your soul. There will be a wordless communion with the artist at this level. The piece will “speak” to your inner nature.
Slow art is the artistic way of visiting an art venue.