Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Art of Hand Washing
CDC Foundation showcases the work of artists
who interpret the act of hand washing

The exhibit is called Watching Hands. Sponsored by Georgia Pacific and the CDC Foundation, and curated by Louise E. Shaw, CDC Museum Curator, this exhibit show cases the work of six artists who interpret the act of hand washing through painting, drawing, graphic design, sculpture, installation, and new media.

The artists include John Bankston (San Francisco); Didi Dunphy (Athens, GA); Joe Peragine (Atlanta); Katherine L. Ross (Chicago); Laura Splan (Brooklyn, NY); and James Victore (Brooklyn, NY).

The exhibit is located at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum in Association with the Smithsonian Institution and runs from September 24, 2011 – January 13, 2012.

A look at the Artists

Laura Splan.  "Surface Tension" by New York-based mixed-media artist and biologist Laura Splan, is a series of paintings that allude to the invisible worlds that are at play as we wash our hands. The drawings of hands and microbes underlie a latent image of bubbles rendered in enMotion® foam hand soap provided by Georgia-Pacific Professional. Each of the twelve paintings depicts hands in a different position of proper handwashing as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Katherine L. Ross.  Katherine L. Ross is a conceptual artist who uses ceramics as her primary medium to create haunting site-specific installations. Currently the chair of the Ceramics Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), she is concerned with the psychology of water, cleansing, hygiene and contamination. In "Water Cure," a mound of over 1300 porcelain bars of soap lies on the floor.

John Bankston.  John Bankston, a self-declared storyteller and visual novelist based in San Francisco, uses the visual structures of children's coloring books to create fantastical stories exploring personal identities and inner worlds. In "Magic Handwashing," Bankston's protagonist, Donkey Boy, finds himself in a dilemma when his hands are turned into claws after immersing them into a glowing puddle. Only through the help of many fantastical friends does Donkey Boy restore his hands when he learns how to wash them properly.

Didi Dunphy.   Athens, Georgia-based artist Didi Dunphy's enthusiastic willingness to explore healthy handwashing habits through the filter of fun has resulted in "Bubbles, Bubbles"  -an installation that is as motivating as it is delightful. A design vocabulary of iconic figures and handwashing-related objects silhouetted within brightly colored polka dots has been translated to Dunphy's signature vinyl cut-outs, paper towels dispensed from Georgia-Pacific Professional's enMotion® automated touchless towel dispenser and relevant videos accessed through smartphones.

James Victore.  A self-declared independent designer based in New York, James Victore's participation in Watching Hands is a nod to the importance of good design in public health communications, as well as acknowledgement of the blurring of lines between design and fine art. His poster series, "Washing Hands: The single most important means of preventing the spread of infection," features hands overlaid with bubble images of various pathogens, such as influenza and E.coli, that can be transmitted by not washing one's hands.

Joe Peragine.  Joe Peragine is an Atlanta-based artist who uses painting, sculpture and animation to make deeply personal and often poignant associations between the everyday and the human condition. His multidisciplinary installation, "Easiest, cheapest, needfull'st," is surprisingly comforting, as he captures the soulfulness of our daily handwashing routines, as well as a sense of a shared human experience.

Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. If clean, running water is not accessible, as is common in many parts of the world, use soap and available water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands.

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