Spend Slow Art Day with the GVSU Art Collection
March 28, 2022
On April 2, museums and galleries around the world will welcome visitors to intentionally slow down and participate in Slow Art Day . Founded in 2010, this international event features hundreds of venues each year that collaborate to encourage visitors to slow down and look at art – to “discover for themselves the joy of looking at and loving art.” Most people view a work of art for 15-30 seconds or less and often feel that they don’t have the tools or expertise to understand it. Slow Art Day encourages viewers to spend 5-10 minutes looking at a work of art and discovering on their own without expertise. It's an inclusive act aimed at everyone regardless of education, background, or understanding of art. Simply find a work of art, intentionally look at it, and share what you’ve found.
With that in mind, we’ve picked a work of art in the study lounge of Lake Ontario Hall on the Allendale Campus of Grand Valley State University to use as an example. It's a painting that the GVSU Art Gallery team has walked by many times and seen on our computer screens in the database – but many of us have never sat with and looked at it for a long period. When you pick a work of art, don’t read the didactic label, or look it up in the database, or read the artist statement, simply sit and look quietly. The longer you look the more you will become aware of the way positioning in the painting directs your view and the small subtle things you never saw in the composition at first glance.
Levels of Knowledge
Oil on canvas
This painting includes nine people and a dog gathered around a kitchen table doing assorted things. Initially what draws you in are the four main figures in front of the table - a woman on the left, a baby in the center, and another man and woman on the right. Three of the figures are angled into the composition from the outside, a woman leaning forward in the act of feeding the baby on the left and a man and woman bent forward in the act of conversation over a newspaper on the right. Their bodies follow an imaginary line from the bottom corners of the canvas towards the middle of the top of the canvas, and their angles direct your eyes into the crowded center of the composition. You will also become aware of small things you never noticed at first, like the book covered by a kitchen towel that props the baby up in the high chair, or the dog tags that dangle from the neck of the man on the far right, or the design on the bowl the woman on the left holds. After 5-10 minutes perhaps you’ll feel like you have a greater appreciation for this work of art. Maybe you'd be encouraged and excited about the act of looking slowly, and desire to be more intentional in the future.
Although Slow Art Day is on April 2, 2022, this year, you can choose any day to deliberately spend time with a work of art. At Grand Valley State University, we have art on display in every building from our permanent collection and six galleries with changing exhibitions. Grab a friend and find a few works of art to look at for 5-10 minutes each. Then grab a bite to eat and discuss what you discovered when you slowed down and looked. Enjoy!
To view all the artwork in the GVSU collection visit https://www.gvsu.edu/artgallery/.