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Virtual Conversation: Slow Looking and Monet



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  • Registration is at capacity for this program.

Claude Monet

On the occasion of the exhibition Monet and Chicago, author and educator Rachel Cohen, professor of Practice in the Arts at the University of Chicago, leads a participatory program focused on slow looking. Participants engage in close observation of works by Monet and develop note-taking practices through a simple series of creative writing prompts.

Cohen writes, “Monet’s special way of looking, again and again, noticing the subtle changes in familiar landscapes at certain times of day, certain seasons, is especially resonant in this period when our own looking is confined and a particular window or walk may be what reassures us that the world is still there.” The program is co-facilitated by Art Institute educator Nancy Chen.

About the Speaker

Rachel Cohen has just published Austen Years: A Memoir in Five Novels, a book about close reading in a time of grief and transformation, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice in the summer of 2020. During the pandemic, she has kept an online notebook about close looking at art while far away, collected at The Frederick Project and featured in essays she has written for the New Yorker online and Lit Hub. Her presentations on close reading and looking draw international audiences, and are at the center of her teaching practice —she is professor of Practice in the Arts in creative writing at the University of Chicago, and teaches courses on writing about art, and writing in times of crisis. Cohen’s previous books include Bernard Berenson: A Life in the Picture Trade and A Chance Meeting: Intertwined Lives of Writers and Artists, winner of PEN / Jerard Fund Award. Her essays on artists and writers—their friendships, fallings out, and the work they make—have appeared in publications including the New Yorker, the Guardian, the London Review of Books, Art in America, Apollo Magazine, McSweeney’s, and Best American Essays. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. 

Closed captioning will be available for this program. For questions related to accessibility accommodations, please email

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Lead support for Monet and Chicago is generously contributed by


Lead Corporate Sponsors

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Major funding is provided by Lesley and Janice Lederer, the Shure Charitable Trust, Richard F. and Christine F. Karger, Mark and Charlene Novak, and Margot Levin Schiff and the Harold Schiff Foundation.

Additional support is contributed by the Alice M. LaPert Fund for French Impressionism, Alison R. Barker in honor of Ruth Stark Randolph, the Kemper Educational and Charitable Fund, the Rose L. and Sidney N. Shure Endowment, Gail Elden, and Michelle Lozins.

Members of the Luminary Trust provide annual leadership support for the museum’s operations, including exhibition development, conservation and collection care, and educational programming. The Luminary Trust includes an anonymous donor; Neil Bluhm and the Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation; Jay Franke and David Herro; Karen Gray-Krehbiel and John Krehbiel, Jr.; Kenneth C. Griffin; Caryn and King Harris, The Harris Family Foundation; Josef and Margot Lakonishok; Robert M. and Diane v.S. Levy; Ann and Samuel M. Mencoff; Sylvia Neil and Dan Fischel; Anne and Chris Reyes; Cari and Michael J. Sacks; and the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.


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