Slow down and appreciate the works of the Museum of Fine Arts

It’s a beautiful day in City Park.

The sun is shining and the air is crisp. The notorious park geese are herded in the street and the occasional swan or mallard graces you with its presence, hoping for treats.

Maybe you’re on a lunch break, or maybe it’s Sunday and you realize you have an hour to spare. You decide to be adventurous and discover the museum you know but never had the opportunity to explore.

Go under the arch and down the brick steps, admiring the sculptures and the fountain. You approach the entrance and pull the oversized brass handles and enter this portal through heavy glass doors. Your first step into this new world is greeted by the light tapping of your shoe against the marble floor.

Where to start?

Where to start ?

There is no right answer. Today you can go in any direction.

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You walk slowly, consciously softening your steps into a gallery that seems to be calling you. It’s unfamiliar. You are not an artist and you are not an art expert.

Its good. Art is for everyone and sometimes a fresh look brings new ideas and perspectives.

It’s time to slow down and enjoy what you see. Scan the gallery. Where did your eyes first land? Without thinking, approach this work of art.

On Saturday, April 2, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts will collectively celebrate Slow Arts Day. On this day, visitors are invited to slowly observe the works of art and quietly reflect on their own.

The museum has selected five works of art and will provide deep, slow prompts to use as a guide if you wish. Or you can do your own thing.

You are welcome to share your thoughts on social media and create a collaborative painting in the rose garden, where you might even want to share your experience with the art in an exchange of ideas with other guests.

While you are always welcome to reflect deeply in the museum, we hope to see you in April to slowly explore and discover yourself while observing and reflecting.

How to watch slowly

Promise yourself a full 10 minutes not to check your cell phone. Unplug. Relax. Stay there and do nothing else.

Let your eyes drift around the painting or the sculpture or the photograph or whatever it is that you have chosen. Don’t worry about the title. Don’t worry about the name of the artist yet. Just let your eyes fall where they want to fall. Find an interesting line, let your eyes follow it. Find an interesting color. See it.

Use this work of art as a lens. Don’t allow other thoughts – and if other thoughts come in, let them go while you focus on this painting.

As I tell many students or patrons who visit the museum, my favorite thing about art is that no one can tell you what you think or feel about it. You bring to this work of art exactly what its intentions are. You are interested in a work of art because of who you are, not because of who the artist is.

So what do you bring to this work of art? What’s stirring inside you? And what does that say about the intentions of the artist compared to what you felt when you entered this museum?

Kellie Mele is director of education at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. The Washington County Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission and parking are free. Visit wcmfa.org or the museum’s pages on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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