Slow Art Day for Words

by Ruth Tenzer Feldman
Published on: April 4, 2014
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SlowArtDay

On April 12, 2014, lucky people will visit at least one of about 200 art museums and galleries across the globe. Their goal, assignment, whatever you want to call it, is to look at five pieces of artwork for ten minutes each and then meet together with other “slow watchers” over lunch to talk about what they saw. It’s called Slow Art Day, and it will be celebrated here in Portland at the Portland Art Museum.

Slow Art Day has been around for years. According to the organization’s web site, the foundational idea is that when people look at a piece of art slowly they make discoveries. The Slow Art folks feature this quote:

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

Nice enough quote. What intrigues me is the person who said it. Henry David Thoreau, the author of Walden; or, Life in the Woods. Thoreau was an essayist, writer, poet, and a dozen other things, but he was not recognized as an artist. He thought big thoughts, felt deep feelings, and shared himself with us through words.

So, this year I plan to celebrate Slow Art Day by choosing a very short piece of my work in progress…no more than a single scene…and to slow down, way down, ignoring my usual approach to my writing. Just for the fun of it. Just to see what happens. I think of the exercise as the opposite of NaNoWriMo.

My goal is not necessarily to create a better scene, although I hope I’ll gain some insight that will make the scene work better. My goal is to reacquaint myself with the pleasure of writing. Here are the rules I’ve made up for myself.

  • Pick a piece that’s no more than 200 words.
  • Read through the piece ten times during the day, with lots of time in between.
  • Read the piece aloud.
  • Have someone else read the piece aloud.
  • Stifle all self-criticism!
  • Pick one word to change in every sentence, and see how the substitute word lends a different feel to that sentence.
  • Track the etymology of at least 10% of the words.
  • Switch up Romance language words with Anglo-Saxon words and vice versa.
  • Don’t focus on whether any change makes the piece better or worse. Marvel at how each change makes an impact on the piece itself.
  • Enjoy!

Happy Slow Art Day, any way you celebrate it.

 

 

 

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