It might surprise you to know that when people go to a museum they spend between 6-15 seconds looking at a painting before moving on. That allows the viewer enough time to glance at the image, make and “I like i/I don’t like it judgement, and maybe look at the plaque to see the name of the artist. Upon leaving a museum people are often left with the notion that they have participated in a pleasant cultural event, congratulated themselves that they have seen some “art,” but ultimately have nothing to say about it.
If you doubt me, think about what people that have visited the Louver usually take about. “I saw the Mona Lisa. It was smaller than I thought I would be. And it was really crowded…I had to hold my camera above all the heads!”
Yes you saw it, but did you see it? Did you see the composition of it? Did you notice the color and how they were combined? Were you engage in a conversation with the work? Going to a museum should be much more than just bragging rights. It should be and can be life changing.
The advent of Slow Art has transformed the way people are going to museums. Founded in 2008, the concept is that instead of rushing by hundreds of works of art in a matter of minutes, the individuals time might be more enriching if he or she spend an extended period of time in front of one or two pieces.
During the past three years, I have led slow art experiences to several hundred people. Before the pandemic I was leading them in the museum where I am a docent. Since the advent of Covid I have been leading on Zoom. The experience has been life changing for me and for participants.
The sessions last for about an hour, where people take a deep look at one work of art. One of the fun exercises I lead is that after 15 minutes of looking I ask people to look away from the work and notice what they are experiencing. After one minute I invite people to come back to the work and notice what they missed seeing in the first sitting. Inevitably people are surprised and delighted. “I didn’t see this or that the first time. This is amazing.” Even more fun is listening to people exclaim, “Oh, I didn’t see that either.” With time not only do people see the painting, connections between the painting and their lives are made. Suddenly the enigmatic smile on the Mona Lisa becomes a personal experience or a memory, or insight into life.
Artists don’t paint just to create a pretty picture. They are painting to tell a story. Stories transform lives. If you spend 6 seconds in front of a painting you will miss the story and miss the possibility of having your live transformed. Spend some time and the story will emerge.
Join me in the new year as I begin leading slow art zoom session to the great masterpieces of the world. Sign up for my monthly newsletter or keep your eye on the events page of my website.
This first class provides all the information you need to know to begin the slow art experience.
The first 15 minutes of the class are spent going over the concept and details of participation. The next 45 minutes are spent looking at a masterpiece. Join me this winter. Break out of Carona fatigue and enter into a conversation with master painters of the world.