Rather than asking people to act out a fictional role, I enlisted their help in creating physical representations of individuals who played a part in my life. I cast their hands. About thirty people stopped by my parents' house in Pennsylvania in order to help me with my thesis work.
The project entitled In Your Hands is an exploration of relationships . Every relationship and every interaction we have with others impacts how we see the world and how we behave. I am creating a sculptural book installation that will be on display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC from April 30-May 17, 2014. In Your Hands focuses on how our interactions with others shape the person we become.
It was an intense day of work, starting at 8:00 A.M. and lasting well into the night. I used a material called Alja-Safe to make the molds and then created a positive by pouring plaster into the negative. I was overwhelmed by the number of people who extended their hands for me to mold this weekend. People from all aspects of my life showed their support; former colleagues from teaching, students I taught in high school and elementary school, friends--old and new, family, former partners, and even perfect strangers gathered around a small table and offering to immerse their hands into purple goo.
The process took at least 10 minutes each and required a good deal of physical exertion (on my part). After each hand was molded and cast with plaster, it had to be cut out of the Alga-Safe and packed for transport. Thankfully, I had some help from my partner and my mother, who stayed up late and got up early to help me finish before heading back to DC for the week.
So far, I have about 30 hands cast, although not all are usable. While the molds have the ability to show intricate details such a wrinkles, scars, and even missing fingers, they also are subject to flaws from gravity and other scientific factors I won't dare try to explain. I will need to make some additional molds in the upcoming weeks to reach approximately 40 pairs of hands. These combined with a handmade book will be installed in the gallery. I haven't yet decided if the hands will hold the pages of the book or objects to represent events/interactions that have shaped me.