Visual Arts department chair Becky Barsi may be known around campus as Derryfield’s resident art guru, but now her creations are finding their way off campus as well. This summer, her photographic collage titled “With These Hands” will be installed at Lahey Hospital in Burlington, MA as part of the clinic’s permanent art collection.
“With These Hands” is a digital art composition that Mrs. Barsi created while in college. The black and white piece features a series of hands spelling out the piece’s title in American Sign Language. Faded text in the background supplements the pictures with words related to each of the people whose hands are on display.
“Subjects from this original series included the hands of my mother (scared and burned from years working in a kitchen), close family friends who are goldsmiths and a carpenter, and my grandmother,” Mrs. Barsi shared, noting that her goal when creating the piece was to “reflect the stories of people through the portraiture of their hands.” While portraits typically focus on faces, she hoped to show that our hands are equally as important in capturing who we are and what we do.
Although she had created the original version of “With These Hands” years back, a company called Great American Art recently reached out to her about it after seeing it in her online portfolio. Mrs. Barsi said that Great American Art “provides art and design solutions for healthcare, corporate, and government facilities,” and she had never heard of them before they contacted her via email. Given the diversity and human resilience depicted in her piece, the company thought that “With These Hands” would be a good fit for display in Lahey Hospital.
While Mrs. Barsi said that she was “thrilled” by the company’s interest, there were a few technicalities to overcome. “Due to the fact that I had created the work so long ago, and ignorant at the time it was created on how to properly save the work for future reproduction, the quality of the image is very low resolution and would not be adequate for enlargement at that scale,” she shared. “That said, I offered to recompose the photograph and GAA agreed.”
Mrs. Barsi decided to alter her original design during recomposition. She changed the title from “In These Hands” to “With These Hands” and had her 14 hand models “use their own handwriting to write ‘With these hands…’ and fill in the blank with something significant that their hands have done” for the piece’s background. “I then scanned their handwritten statements and imported into Photoshop where I layered the text behind the images of the hands,” Mrs. Barsi said.
“With These Hands” is scheduled to be installed later in the summer for permanent display at the clinic. This is certainly an exciting accomplishment, and we look forward to seeing the creativity of the Derryfield community make its way across even more borders.