The Art Gallery is currently hosting the exhibition Streams of Being: Selections from the Art Museum of the Americas. Curated by Assistant Professor of Latin American Art in the Department of Art History and Archaeology, Abigail McEwen, and University of Maryland graduate students, the exhibition features forty-five artists from sixteen countries across the Americas. To commemorate and celebrate this unique exhibition and collaboration between the Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States and The Art Gallery at the University of Maryland, various University of Maryland graduate students and undergraduate students have taken over our blog. Below, Eloy Areu recaps Slow Art 2015. (More information about Slow Art Day and our Slow Art Day organizer, UMD student Chloe Isaac, can be found at the bottom of this post.)
Slow Art Day 2015 at the University of Maryland Art Gallery
Guests gather in front of an artwork during Slow Art Day 2015. Howard University student Bria Burditt (far left) and University of Maryland student Chloe Isaac (center, in red) helped lead the discussion. Photo by Taras Matla.
Slow Art Day took place on Saturday, April 11 at The Art Gallery, where the exhibition Streams of Being: Selections from the Art Museum of the Americas is on view through April 25, 2015. Seventeen people attended the two-hour event, a number that allowed a very comfortable and intimate discussion to ensue during the second half of the program. The five works highlighted for slow observation were Chilean artist Claudio Bravo’s Fur Coat Back and Front, Cuban artist Mario Carreño’s Sonata de la Piedra y de la Carne, Argentine artist Ernesto Deira’s Tempo, Brazilian artist Tomie Ohtake’s untitled piece from her Creation of the World series, and Chilean artist Roberto Matta’s surrealistic piece Nuit Courve.
The discussion that followed individual viewing brought forth many interesting comments. Some of the participants indicated that while their initial reaction to a particular piece may at first have been negative, their opinion changed after spending ten or more minutes closely examining it. One of the visitors had lived in Chile during the Pinochet era when the lithograph by Claudio Bravo was created. She related her experiences of the country’s political atmosphere at that time to the somber look of the character displayed in the piece.
A guest records her reaction to Claudio Bravo’s Fur Coat Back and Front. Photo by Taras Matla.
Reactions to Carreño’s clean and organic piece were, for the most part, positive. The muted colors and the blue drapery helped to soften the otherwise hard edges. One participant, however, described the piece as “bottom-heavy,” while other comments implied that the artist must have – consciously or unconsciously – referenced modern works of art as well as examples from antiquity and the Renaissance.
Visitors consider Mario Carreno’s Sonata de la Piedra y de la Carne from various angles. Photo by Taras Matla.
Viewers expressed a variety of emotional reactions to Deira’s abstract painting, made of industrial enamel on canvas, supplying words like “jarring,” “monster-like,” and “attractive.” One commenter noted that, if turned upside down, the work resembled a silhouette of Mickey Mouse or even of a fawn.
The most common comments about Ohtake’s large canvas were that the muted, fiery color of the circle—hardly discernible from a distance—became visible close up and that the large size of the piece amplified the visual impact that would be lost at a smaller size. One of the attendees played on her phone Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, a song that came to mind when she first saw the piece. Comments about Matta’s piece, like those for Deira, were mixed; some people liked it more than others. But the most common comments connected the piece to science fiction themes, from Star Trek to the Twilight Zone, as drawn on a blackboard.
Almost all visitors noted the importance of seeing Tomie Ohtake’s Untitled (Creation of the World series) from both afar and up close. Photo by Madeline Gent.
At the end of the event participants said how much they enjoyed it. The comments suggested not only how worthwhile it had been for them to spend “slow time” looking at pieces of art, but also how helpful it had been to hear perspectives different than their own.
Eloy Areu is an artist who studies art history at the University of Maryland. For more information about him and to see his art, visit www.ArtbyAreu.com.
University of Maryland student Chloe Isaac. Photo by Taras Matla.
Slow Art Day was organized for The Art Gallery by University of Maryland junior Chloe Isaac. Isaac, a communications and studio art major, manages social media operations for The Slow Art Day organization.
Howard University Student Bria Burditt.
Howard University student Bria Burditt was also a huge help on Slow Art Day. Along with Chloe, she answered questions about the organization and helped lead group discussion.
For more about Slow Art Day, see the organization’s website: http://www.slowartday.com/.