The Hands

Thursday, May 12, 2011.  Interesting day.  It unexpectedly became a day of reflection and in some sense, a day of drawing a line in the sand.  I know, what does this have to do with hands?

It started with my afternoon trip to the Bellevue Arts Museum.  I made a point of going today because the exhibit of furnituremaker John Cederquist ends on Sunday and I didn’t want to miss it.  As I walked through his exhibit and the following sculptural exhibit of Wanxin Zhang, I kept wanting to put my hands on the pieces; to feel the shape and the texture.  But—there was the sign- DO NOT TOUCH ART-   Not sure why some of us feel the need to touch things.  But there is this feeling that without touching something, without the feel of the shape, the texture, the softness, the harshness, the curves and the sharp edges – one has not really engaged the subject.

Ironically, as the day progress, I was walking the streets of Seattle and came across an interesting bookstore.  Browsing the store I found a wonderful book,” Hands at Work.”  As I thumbed through the book I read stories about people who work with their hands.  My mind went back again to the gallery and my thoughts about wanting to put my hands on the art.  My mind went to my father when I said good-bye to him and touched his hands roughened by a life of working with his hands; of the things those hands taught me when I was young.

I thought of the old tools I have inherited and of the feeling of self worth and history when working with a tool that is decades old wondering what craftsman had his or her hands on this tool, and of intertwining of the oil and sweat from their hands and mine.

I read the stories and explanations of why these men and women chose to make a life by working with their hands.

“They talk of living in their hands and needing to get their hands dirty, cold, or wet.  For them, the materials they use are alive and responsive; their hands teach them things they didn’t know and connect them to different times, places, and people.”

“People are losing the ability to make things for themselves… We’re missing out on that incredible creative process that engages the mind and translates to hands.”

THIS is why I must make art.

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