Photo Credit: © Suzanne Willamson

We exist in a world dominated by instant gratification. With each new technological development introduced, the time we spend shopping, socializing, and interacting with others has compressed exponentially.

Think of the last time you visited an art museum. How long did you spend with each work, in each gallery? Did you look closely, or did you join the usual silent, several-foot wide circle around each work? Do you remember any details or the emotions you felt?

The art museum is no exception to our current condition of time compression: according to a study published by the journal Empirical Studies of the Arts, museumgoers spend on average less than 30 seconds looking at each work of art during their visit, time usually spent silent and unengaged. Art turns into a commodity, and we consume it at the speed we consume the rest of our lives. But the time has come for that to change.

To cultivate a new way of seeing, FMoPA is teaming up with an international movement of art museums: Slow Art, a new museum experience focused on complete, multi-sensory immersion. Slow Art was launched over a decade ago, and has since inspired over 1,400 events in hundreds of museums across the world. Participants are guided to engage and spend time with each work, looking from up close and far away, taking careful note of intimate details, the artists’ decisions, and overall composition that would have been missed with the speedy walkthrough we are accustomed to. FMoPA is excited to announce its participation in the Slow Art movement starting July 2021, with our plan to host guided workshops focusing on Slow Art viewing techniques and the practice of mindfulness for emotional wellbeing.

In Slow Art, we are meant to acknowledge thoughts and emotions as they arise in the space the artist leaves for us to exist in the artwork. When we make an effort to slow down, and then slow down some more, we become distinctly aware of things otherwise disregarded or forgotten: tiny brushstrokes, the hint of an expression, a soft color, a crooked line. Slow Art can be multisensory, too—we can take note of the noises we hear in a museum space, the things we smell, the people we see, the feelings we have. Using Slow Art, the viewer can fully realize the space in which they are meant to inhibit, and the artists’ choices can be acknowledged and appreciated.

Slow Art can inform us on how to cultivate mindfulness in our own lives as well, not only with art. By purposely acknowledging different factors in our lives, the intricate details of the situations we are in, the context through which we see others and ourselves, we can better approach ourselves with a priority on understanding, acknowledgment, and appreciation. And the first step for this is to breathe, calm the self, and slow down. We can create our own art of seeing—the practice of engaging with art, and further, our lives.