If dug from the wreckage and dusted off hundreds of years from now, the introduction to Camille Paglia’s Glittering Images might seem a cautionary prelude to an intellectual end times of sorts, a last-minute plea for society to take hold of its senses and actually “see.”
Prompted by the onslaught of images distracting us by the nanosecond, the intro to the book of art history highlights asserts the importance of finding focus amid so much “visual clutter.” The process of looking at art, Paglia says, realigns our senses.
It was within this reality that businessman Phil Terry decided to spend more than 30 minutes in front of a Hans Hoffman painting—surpassing, he says, the usual “17 seconds” most museumgoers spend in front of individual works and a launching a movement.
Slow Art Day has since gained traction and been formalized by museums and galleries. Nearly 200 are participating this year, each encouraging visitors to spend as much as 10 minutes looking at a work of art, and then later discuss it with others.
It’s a simple idea, but these days a monumental act, one that requires actually putting aside the phone for 10 minutes and revolting against the mind-dulling onslaught of abbreviated information to absorb color, form, line and process, an activity that is being studied scientifically for its cognitive effects. But for now, there is that experience of allowing art to rejuvenate the senses and send the mind on its own boundless exploration.
In Las Vegas, the Barrick Museum is hosting Slow Art Day, encouraging visitors to sit with paintings by John Millei in the artist’s solo exhibit, If 6 Turned Out to Be 9, followed by a guided discussion at 1 p.m.
So farewell to the whir of brevity, the casual glance at art and the dismissal of attentiveness. The beauty of Slow Art Day lies in the idea that it’s purely about the viewer plunging into the work before them—no dictated pretense, no art dogma. Just a private conversation.
Slow Art Day April 11, noon-5 p.m. (1 p.m. discussion). UNLV’s Barrick Museum, 702-895-3381.