Drawing is a way of thinking visually, and more than any other form of expression except perhaps dance, it comes directly from the body – a kind of hand dance, as the body expresses itself through the movements of the hand in space. Even though it’s so small-scale, it’s still a gestural kind of drawing where I feel my body pouring directly into the lines I make on the paper, remembering how it feels to move freely, feeling pain but also feeling it dissolve into fluid grace.
However great our desire for connection, we can never know what it feels like to inhabit the self, the body, of another. But the wordless dialogue of touch can bring us close. And so can art, which gives us a way to communicate something of our private reality to each other. In my drawings, the imagery of a lover’s hands suggests connection on many levels: relationship with friends, loved ones, doctors, therapists, and more broadly, the world at large.
I think of my hands as the voice of my body, of my artist self – the most ‘conscious’ part of the body, closest to the surface of the aware self. Hands have the greatest number and variety of nerve endings of any part of the body, and the largest area in the brain devoted to receiving and responding to their signals. This gives them the most sensitivity to nuances of feeling, and the greatest ability to respond with subtlety – to learn and know things about the otherness they encounter.
They’re also the part of the body where the underlying anatomy is most visible on the surface, and the shape of each bone is easy to feel, just under the skin. The chance to observe and draw all this up close in the Anatomy Lab, and compare it with the particular details of my own anatomy from my 3D scan, really helps to bring my drawings to life. Hand Dance is an ongoing series.