Bradbury-Sullivan art exhibit showcases hands as symbols of humanity
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A local gallery has a new exhibit, and it is all about hands.
The Fine Art Galleries at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center is featuring the exhibit "All Hands Hold” by Philadelphia-based interdisciplinary artist Kara Mshinda.
- The Bradbury-Sullivan center is featuring a new exhibit, "All Hands Hold," by Philadelphia-based interdisciplinary artist Kara Mshinda
- Mshinda said she came up with the idea of the exhibit while watching the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol unfold, and she was also inspired by the TV show "Pose"
- It's open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays until Nov. 28
The free exhibit has about 60 pieces of art, including collages and photos of people’s hands. It is open to the public when the Bradbury-Sullivan Center is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays until Nov. 28.
Mshinda, who lives in Philadelphia, said she came up with the idea of the exhibit during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol when she tried to think of a symbol that unites humanity.
“I thought about the human hand and how, as one of our appendages, it's a very unique kind of body part,” Mshinda said. “It does so much. It's not just something that's used to carry things. But it also is a tool for us to express ourselves.”
Mshinda said she also was inspired by “Pose,” a TV show set in the 1980s that is about New York City's ballroom culture, an LGBTQ subculture in the Black and Latino communities. The show included vogue, a form of dance created by the communities featured in the series.
“While we are so unique in very distinct ways, we're all a part of this grand human experience. And that's something that we share, is being human.”Kara Mshinda, Philadelphia-based artist
Mshinda said she was struck by the exaggerated hand movements of voguing, and she thought about how gender could be performed through hands.
“I started to explore that in my artwork, like, what does it mean to have femme hands? Or what does femme look like?” Mshinda said.
Mshinda said she created collages from magazines, but then she realized the magazine clippings only featured an idealized version of hands, so she decided to counter that by taking Polaroid pictures of the hands of people in her life.
The Polaroids are of her mom and her daughter, as well as artists Jere Paolini, M. Shane Jenkins and Hagudeza Rullán-Fantauzzi, who was photographed by Alessandro Failla.
The exhibit has two rooms, with the collages on the lower level and the pictures on the upper level.
Gabby Hochfeld, arts and culture programs coordinator at the Bradbury-Sullivan Center, said Mshinda’s work made her contemplate what it means to be feminine.
“This is a nice moment to reflect and look at the body and beauty,” Hochfeld said. “It's a little bit more serious, so it was like a nice contrast to some of the other artwork we've had.”
Mshinda said she hopes the exhibit will make visitors think of what all people have in common.
“While we are so unique in very distinct ways, we're all a part of this grand human experience. And that's something that we share, is being human,” Mshinda said. “So I think that's what I would like for people to take away is, what kind of preconceived notions do you have about gender or race? And do you still have them after you look at this collection of hands?”
Mshinda’s art is for sale, and most of it is less than $100, Hochfeld said.
Mshinda hopes to expand “All Hands Hold” to honor ballroom culture more explicitly.
Mshinda, who is also a fellowship director at DaVinci Art Alliance in Philadelphia and an adjunct faculty member at Temple University, said she always wanted to be an artist, but she didn’t think she could pursue art until she started creating it as a form of therapy to help her deal with depression.
She started exhibiting in 2013, and she had her first commercial art exhibit this year.
The Fine Art Galleries at Bradbury-Sullivan holds art exhibits with LGBTQ artists and LGBTQ-themed art. The center features a new exhibit about once a month.
Hochfeld said the gallery is booked for 2023, but artists interested in displaying their work can take part in their community show, which will likely happen in conjunction with Pride.