In a self-proclaimed fast-paced world, we are asked to do exactly the opposite of contemporary demands: slow down. The language of slowing down has become somewhat of a cure-all for the malaise of a late capitalist society, sending the message of protest by adopting a slower pace of production. With all of the anti-social media rhetoric and over-consumption of information and images, can slowing down really save us from ourselves?
At the Weisman Art Museum, we practice a method called “Perceive” which uses close looking techniques to help a viewer experience a piece of artwork through observation. Perceive asks, What do you notice?
- Imagine using all of your senses.
- What do you recognize?
- What feeling do you get from the image? Is there a mood?
- What does the image remind you of?
- What is going on?
- What other meanings could there be?
- What does the image make you wonder about?
- What more do you want to know?
By posing these questions the viewer is asked to use their senses and their own experience to relate to the work, above context or a knowledge of art history. Additionally, these exercises challenge the scrolling effect that has become ubiquitous when discussing “looking” and ultimately could change our perception.
Whenever I was worried about meeting deadlines, my painting professor told me “Lexi, you always have the time you need.” This was true in the literal sense, I can not hold an excess of time, I can only exist in the time I’m in. His advice also helped me to enrich my understanding of what a painting does. Painting is not only about observation and looking, but a way of perceiving and understanding. Slowly looking at a painting can change our mindset from scarcity to abundance, bringing us away from the “feed” into the idea that what is in front of us is enough. Once we realize that within the present moment, we have enough time, to look, to see, to experience, we can literally make time.
Interested in seeing more?
Bring an artwork home with you during our Homework Collection Launch Party! On September, 19th we are renting out a capsule collection of artworks selected by the WAM Collective. Artworks are $15/semester and are available first come first serve starting at 5:00 p.m.
LEXI HERMAN is a B.F.A candidate at the University of Minnesota studying contradictions, the absurd, and the confluence of the two in her personal life. She is the Education Assistant at the Weisman and can often be found wandering art galleries and museums pretending to be someone important. In her free time she enjoys sweetly admiring her mid-century modern furniture.