On Tuesday, the public is invited to a slideshow discussion with the artist Sally Wiener Grotta, who will share stories about the remarkable people she's encountered through the project. Sally will also answer questions about the project and about photography, in general. Please call the library to reserve your space for the reception and gallery talk.
“American Hands” (www.AmHands.com) is Sally Wiener Grotta's award-winning visual celebration of those individuals who keep alive the traditional crafts that built our dynamically diverse culture and established the underpinnings of our present-day society. In this ongoing project, she is creating narrative portraits of people who use their hands in traditional ways, making functional objects that are, today, typically done by machines.
Along the way, Sally spends time in a wide variety of artisans' workshops – including a spinner, weaver, blacksmith, glassblower, bookbinder, rug-maker and many others – returning over the months and years, to follow the various stages of their creations.
Sally's easy style helps artisans warm to her camera, developing personal relationships that allow her to share in intensely private and often poignant creative moments, as well as spontaneous expressions of joy. Her narrative series of portraits capture both the fascinating craft processes and the individual personalities of the craftspersons.
Of course, Sally can't resist trying the different skills, just to get a feel for what it takes to work with her own hands. Though she hasn't mastered any of the crafts, it helps infuse her photography with a sense of empathy and even greater respect for her subjects.
American Hands has been (and continues to be) exhibited all over the state, in both large and very small venues.
In 2010, the exhibit was installed in the East Wing Rotunda of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building (among numerous other venues), a couple of years ago. (State Senator Lisa Baker interviewed Sally Wiener Grotta for the “Focus on Pennsylvania” TV show at the exhibit, which you can view at http://av.pasenategop.com/baker/2010/0410/baker-pahands.wmv.) More recently, it was at the University of Scranton and the Northeast Branch of the Philadelphia Library, among many other venues. Other exhibits (and related lectures) are scheduled for the next few years around the country. Eventually, it will be a book. In the meantime, I have two publications: the American Hands Newsletter and the first in a series of American Hands Journals (www.AmHands.com/Journal. I also have an American Hands YouTube channel ().`
Exhibits of “American Hands” are scheduled through 2015. y. Sally will also be giving lectures associated with the exhibits, visiting schools, senior citizen centers, community organizations and so forth. recently published the first “American Hands Newsletter” which is free and will be published a few times a year.
Sally welcomes invitations for exhibits and lectures, as well as suggestions of additional craftspeople. Please remember that her focus is on those artisans who practice the functional, concrete skills, that were required by their community, rather than those that were done primarily for artistic purposes. To contact Sally, please use the contact page on her Website, www.AmHands.com/contact or through the project’s Facebook fanpage: www.facebook.com/AmericanHands. To learn more about the project, please also check out the videos on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/AmHands?feature=guide
The recipient of over three dozen grants, “American Hands” has been adopted by the Artspire program of the New York Foundation for the Arts (one of the nation’s most respected arts organization, under their fiscal sponsorship. This exhibit of “American Hands” and the related events are supported by a Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts Grant from the Lehigh Valley Arts Council and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. The project is also sponsored by Hewlett-Packard Workstations, HP Designjet Printers, Pentax, Kingston, HP Designjet Printers, and smugmug.