History Students Mashup Past and Future for Slow Art Day

One fateful day in 2008, author Phyl Terry visited the Jewish Museum in New York City and decided to choose a different way of viewing art. Instead of looking at all, or even most, of the displayed items, he instead focused on only two. And thus, Slow Art Day was born.

The goal of this annual celebration is to slow down and take one’s time while viewing art. Participating museums and galleries urge participants to look at five or fewer paintings, in the model of Terry, and discuss thoughts with a small group or in self-reflection.

collage of images of art
Slow Art Day at UA will feature images of William Crawford Gorgas visiting the Panama Canal; a digital mashup of the 1927 motion picture Metropolis (the first sci-fi film); a Janelle Monáe video; and student haikus.

In the past 15 years, Slow Art Day has grown considerably. As of 2023, there are over 175 participating museums and galleries on all continents, even Antarctica! And The University of Alabama has joined the list.

On April 14, the exhibit, “Of Canals, AfroFuturism & Empire,” will be on display from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Gorgas House, for the second year of Slow Art Day at UA. The exhibit and some of the original works being displayed were created by students enrolled in History of American Civilization to 1865, America Civilization Since 1865 and Topics in American History under the guidance of Dr. Sharony Green.

“During the initial days of the pandemic lockdown, I turned to all of my arts and crafts. I had a lot of my supplies left over, so I decided to share them with my students,” Dr. Green said, explaining how the idea for the project emerged.

The gallery will comprise images of William Crawford Gorgas visiting the Panama Canal, mashups from the first science fiction movie, Metropolis, a Janelle Monáe video and student creations.

Slow Art Day is one of the many unique opportunities experienced by Dr. Green’s students, for whom every day is an adventure —whether it’s taking field trips to Moundville, walking the Quad during class or putting on an exhibit in the oldest dwelling on campus.

“T-Town is a laboratory for us to learn about our shared past,” Dr. Green said.

UA’s Slow Art Day creators hope onlookers take away an understanding of how the past shapes the future. While William Crawford Gorgas and Janelle Monáe may not seem like two people that embody the same topics, they have both revolutionized the way of the future in their own manner. But how? That’s for you to decide, slowly and critically, while thousands of individuals across the globe ponder their own questions while looking at art in similar ways.

Quick Info

Slow Art Day at UA
April 14, 1-3 p.m.
Gorgas House