musical praying hands, hand figurine, mirror, balloon, coin bracelet, and milk crate, 2021, 31 x 15 x 15 inches
I found a box of eleven praying hands figurines in an abandoned Ames general store in Kentucky. The title on the box reads Fine Porcelain Bisque Musical Praying hands by Artmark. The side of the package also states “hand-painted; handcrafted”. The symbol of the praying hands has become well known and entered our pop culture vernacular through the praying hand's emoji. When these were circulated in the U.S., the date on the box reads 1988, this was a symbol used mostly to inspire prayer in a Christian household.
The original image of the praying hands was a pen and ink drawing created by Albert Dürer, also known as Study of the Hands of an Apostle. The trickle-down of a pure art object, or art piece into a cultural object that can be placed into a home, is of interest to me. This repetition of culture boiled down from the original essence, then becomes in itself a new object of banality. How far can we push outside of the original context? These praying hands were clumsily copied and then adapted to have red-painted fingernails. The store I found them in had some of the tackiest, wackiest, absurd, and useless objects. When placed together underneath an upside-down milk crate, the power of the hands is contained, while the crate now turned into a pedestal, levitates.
To reaffirm the shape of the hands, I placed two of them on top of an octagonal mirror, this creates the illusion of an infinite space where meaning can mean nothing endlessly. I often use symmetry to activate the idea of the banal objects into a mystical, spiritual totem, or alter space to meditate upon. Using the repetition of a form pushes the objects to lose their original meaning. This reaffirms the question of how far can we push the objects to inhibit a space outside of the original context.
I placed a rainbow balloon with a souvenir coin bracelet, to weigh it down, onto another hand figurine, which is a set of cupped palms. The origins of the balloon came as a gift sent with flowers for my birthday in the Spring of 2021. The flowers and balloons were delivered to my door on a very windy day and ended up in the bushes by my driveway, half of them were popped and destroyed. The rainbow balloon lasted the longest, a couple of months. It is half-filled as a reminder.
The title is lyrics taken from the song “The Weight”, by The Band. I chose these lyrics specifically as a way to connect the piece nostalgically from past experiences seeing this song played live by the Grateful Dead. One such prominent memory is from my experience seeing the song played as an encore in 1990 at The Wembley Arena in London. The experience of spinning in the hallways of The Wembley Arena, and listening to an American band, singing about Americana life, was like none other.
Taken from the web... “The song is most simply about the burdens we all carry. The "weight" is the load that we shoulder when we take on responsibility or when we try to do good. But it's also the heaviness that presses down on us when we fall into "sin" or wrestle with "temptation." It's a song about a universally human dilemma.”