Many Hands

Boston Artist-in-Residence, Vine Street Community Center, Roxbury, 2016-2017
Ann Hirsch


Community-engaged public art, temporary public installations and ‘permanent’ public artworks, and the spaces in between these practices, are current areas of exploration in my work. These images and the accompanying book are a record of my 2016 – 2017 collaboration with members of the Vine Street Community Center in Roxbury, Boston, and of the work we produced together for Boston A.I.R. 2.0. This residency was a 10-month long journey in community engaged art-making that informs the way I approach longterm and temporary installation projects going forward.

One of the challenges in ‘engaging a community’ and making art collaboratively has been the inaccessibility of some practices that historically have been based exclusively in the studio or at a fabrication facility and that often require specialized skill sets. Life casting hands was an obvious set of techniques for a collaborative, community based project because the materials are easy to use (and non-toxic) and the process results in sculptural objects that are sometimes breath-taking, often relevant on both an individual and a community basis and always powerful as that physical trace of a person at a fleeting moment.  As a public artist and sculptor, hands have frequently found their way into my work. They are beautiful for the stories they tell about a person and the complex, non-verbal messages they can relay. There is often a slippery interplay between spoken language and hand gestures and children sometimes say things with their hands that they have yet to find words for or that they don’t want to share with adults. During the course of the residency, hands became the thematic connector between a lot of different areas of exploration and among different groups and individuals. These pictures tell some of the story of the adventures we shared during the “Hands; Making Connections” residency.

You can see the Many Hands project book here.

You can find out more about the project on the City of Boston’s website.