"Caring Hands," Paint. paper and polyurethane on two pine boards, approximately 20 x 23 inches.
M Y A R T — This piece uses a detail from a vintage photograph of my grandmother and a friend of hers, below. It's actually an early double-exposure, and I fear if a "mistake" like this was captured on a digital camera today it would be deleted immediately.
There is such a loving feeling between these two women, the way they're holding each other's hands. My grandmother at this time worked at the Indian Point House, a summer resort hotel in Stony Creek, Connecticut. Her diaries show she did whatever was needed, from scheduling dinner parties, to making sure the wealthy guests had their clothes washed and pressed and laid out, to choosing the flowers for the dinner tables. The woman behind her was the woman in charge of the maidstaff. I have her name on the back of just one photograph which I can't find right now. I think I'll probably use this image full-frame for a piece sooner rather than later, but for this piece I concentrated on their hands.
A Bit of My Art "Theory" and Nature of Memories
Since these two women physically cared for not only their staff and guests, but their families, I made this piece seem as if it had been lovingly cleaned and polished for generations. I used wall joint compound sanded down as if cleaned and cleaned and cleaned proudly until the woodwork was revealed below, and then cleaned again. As in the vast majority of my art, I try to incorporate every color in the "book" on this piece, to show metaphorically that we can all get along no matter what we are like physically. I print out the scans of these vintage photographs with various tints—some green, some blue, some pink, some lavender, some gold. Sometimes I print them saturated, sometimes I print them very faintly. What I'm trying to express is the nature of memories. Some of our memories are vivid and bold, others are barely there, Some memories are complete, some memories are just bits and pieces floating around in our minds' eye. Personally, I tend to compartmentalize memories. In my head, I mentally flip through "pages" and I put my memories in boxes and grids. This is why my work is largely based on grids and repeated squares, rigidly expressed at the same time they are ephemeral and wispy.
Detail from "Caring Hands." The brightly colored squares are bits of "Color Aid" leafs, silk-screened colors of pure hues used in color theory art classes. Mine date from the late 1970s at Vassar. I use my own history in many pieces.
Detail from "Caring Hands." I've scratched squares into the wall-joint compound, in a porcelain-tile effect, a surface that might be scrubbed and cleaned over and over again by "caring hands."
Original ca. 1921 double-exposure of my grandmother and a friend. Photograph taken at the Indian Point House in Stony Creek, Connecticut, one of Connecticut's turn-of-the-century summer resorts.