The hand: it’s how we touch, grasp, hold, and connect. The hand is our unique expressive fingerprint—and with our hand we turn idea into object, and project our thought into the world. The heart: it’s the metabolic engine, pumping life into every organ, every cell. The heart is the core, the essence—that indefinable substance without which nothing lasts, nothing is real. Combine skill of hand and depth of heart, and the spirit of the artist is born, the maker of things: beautiful things, things of mystery and meaning, things that ask questions, that tell us who we are as individuals, peoples, cultures.
Artists often seek communities of like-minded souls who can help them grow. Yet there are as many creative ‘hands,’ it seems, as there are creative people. Artists today work in a dizzying variety of styles, genres, and media, and a painter or sculptor in Philadelphia might just as well be influenced by an artist from halfway around the world as by a neighbor.
Creative Hand, Discerning Heart is a pair of related exhibits (fall, 2012 and summer, 2013) that celebrate this incredible diversity among living artists, while also seeking connections that lie, often unseen, just beneath the turbulent surface of the contemporary art world. Originally conceived by the Michener’s former director Bruce Katsiff, these exhibitions were juried from submissions by some of the most accomplished artists in the Philadelphia region, using the experience and skills both of Michener staff members and two distinguished curatorial consultants: writer and independent curator Judith E. Stein and Judith Tannenbaum, who recently retired from her position as Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design.