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Posts Tagged ‘hands’

Here’s a whimsical project inspired by the Robert Mappelthorpe images in Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids.  Interspersed throughout the book are images taken by Mapplethorpe of Patti, of himself, and of the two of them together.  What stands out for me in each of the images, reproduced as black and white in the book, are their hands.  Long-fingered, pale, thin hands.  Willowy.  I’ve always been drawn to hands, and so after completing the book, I decided to engage in a quick photo project with friends and coworkers today.  Let me photograph your hands.  Thankfully, they complied.

Dixie the Archaeologist

Meredith the Musician

Steve, the Physicist, Peeling an Orange

Steve Pollinating His Pepper Plant

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Hands I

I have always noticed hands.  I remember my father’s hands as he held the shovel in the garden or when he was tucking my brother and I into bed at night.  He worked several jobs to make ends meet, most of which took place outside, so his hands had become dark like chestnut and calloused.  Big meaty hands I heard someone describe them once.  They were great anchors to hold onto when my brother and I were scared at night going down the hall to the bathroom.  My mother’s hands were small and light, a caramel color.  She called them “chunky” but I think that had more to do with self-perception than reality.   When I used to lay with my head in her lap, I remember her hands above me holding the newspaper or a book or swishing a paper fan to cool us off in summer.

Hands have especially been on my mind this week, as I do some fall cleaning.  I came across an old letter written by a former student for whom I had briefly served as advisor at a local university.  The young man had graduated and was working across the country.  He had handwritten me a six-page letter — an honor in and of itself!  He wrote of being on a life journey, trying to figure out his place in the world, and how to make the world a better place.  While journeying in the desert, he came across a shop with handmade Native American jewelry.  And this is what he wrote:

“Most of the jewelry were of symbols which had meaning for these tribes.  One symbol struck me and made me think of you, our conversations, friendship and the future and it seemed almost like it was waiting there for me to see.  And so if you opened the [enclosed] gift already you will see the symbol – a hand – which is a symbol within the Hopi tribe which stands for this …young men were initiated into different societies.  Toward the completion of their initiation, they journeyed to several sites where they were required to leave behind a mark.  The handprint was a common mark left behind by these young men … “

The author of this amazing letter goes onto suggest that I had left my mark on him as he continues his life journey, and that through our conversations and my sharing my dreams of writing and living a creative life, that I had made a difference in his life.  I hope that is the case.  We have not conversed in over 7 years, but finding his letter and the necklace (pictured above), made a difference in my life for sure as I continue to try to figure out my life journey.

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