Since I was very young, people’s hands exerted an immense appeal on my imagination. How many paintings have I done using my hands as models? All the innumerable pen-and-ink drawings that I made of hands? I cannot count, but the number is great. I incorporate little bronze hands in my jewelry and there are quite a few hands on the walls around my house: a collection from other artists who also revered hands.
It is not only a fascination but also an awareness of all the roles hands play in our lives. Not only are they so very useful at the end of our arms, but they seem to symbolize the ability to create, to grab, to caress, to gesture, to feel, to touch, to heal and to manipulate. The list is enormous.
As an artist, my hands are my main approach to life. With my hands I paint, I draw, I make the necklaces that will grace someone’s neck, in a few words, I create. All with my hands. I have seen some paintings made by artists who had no use of their hands and with a brush lodged perilously in their mouth, they paint. Imagine…the huge effort, the pain, for what is so simple when we have our extremities.
I look at my hands weathered by years of living and now showing a few veins, skin a bit loose on the bones and yet, I am so thankful. I get such an exuberant joy out of working with my hands. A good deal of my soul is flowing from them to the piece I am doing. And many people notice. Sometimes I look at my fingers and they seem foreign to me, more like very competent tools, the infinite potential for a mute pleasure that seems to engulf me as I use them to render my moods.
Our hands play a momentous role in touching another’s skin, in running them around the curve of a lover’s back, in moving through a mop of hair. Our hands ignite passion or tenderness, healing and discovery; our hands say our welcome and spell our goodbyes. With our hands, we feel, and people move into our lives or are left aside and forgotten according to what the handshake tells us.
We give our hands in marriage; the blind touch our face to feel. I am thankful to live in America instead of being under a dictator who rules with an iron hand. Of course, unfortunately, hands also do their share of hurt. They can harass or terrorize, torture with utmost dexterity. They can kill. They destroy, they rob us of breath, of life, of our humanity; but they also bury what had been alive and through a companion, shake us awake at times to witness the stars in the night or the rosy light of dawn as we face the new day.
With my hands, I can write on your walls the many words that unite us both. Or draw my signature. Or signal a common road where we will discover together. Or clasp them in reverence like I learned to do in southeast Asia.
Lets us lay our hands in front of us now. Let us look at them, let us give them thanks at last for being the expressive part of the body that we inhabit and which allow us do so much each day without too much effort … as if they were the bright instruments of our will.
Copyright 2010 Micheline Brierre