Born 1942, Quantico, VA
Works in Cambridge, MA

Year created:
Hand, Peter Haines
Click images for larger view

11' x 17' x 5

Lent by the Artist

No longer on view.

Peter Haines is a master craftsman of bronze. His subjects include human figures and forms, ancient animals, primeval implements, and elemental abstractions. Inspiration for his work is taken from diverse sources such as Neolithic and other pre-historic objects, ancient Chinese jades, "primitive" styles, and modernist sculpture like that of Brancusi and Rodin. Haines often tries to evoke or reference these various layers of the past because it is in them that he finds absoluteness of form, a simplified form, not in a reductive sense but as a process of refinement to reach the poetic essence of a thing.

Since the earliest moments of human expression the handprint has been used as a powerful symbol to represent identity and spirituality. Peter Haines' Hand continues to explore the symbolism of this ancient form of representation. However, his version is decidedly modern with its geometric semi-abstraction and areas of negative space. It has been distilled to its essential formal components and refined into a poetic expression of a hand. Cast in several sections of bronze that fit seamlessly together and weighing a total of 2780 lbs., Hand has a considerable presence within the Park. Haines reflects humanity's identity as a dominant force over the natural world, yet at the same time Hand expresses unity with its environment. The beautiful cool blue-green patina reflects the colors of the landscape that surround it-the blues of rock and sky and the greens of grass and pine-symbolizing a connection between earth and sky through an image of humanity. Hand also echoes the surrounding landscape through its form. The extended verticality of the sculpture's digits resonates with the backdrop of the tall pine trees. On a social level, people use their hands as an integrated element in communication. Thus, the open palm gesture has a multitude of meanings both positive and negative. It is often used as a universal symbol of greetings and goodbyes. Often the gesture can represent moments of great joy and celebration as in the familiar image of people swaying to music with their arms outstretched and hands open to the sky. Yet in these current times the open hand also has mocking and disdainful meanings as frequently displayed in popular media. In addition, it can recall moments of great sorrow with appeals to higher powers or expressions of fright and surprise. In these and many other ways, Hand fosters a sense of communal experience that brings people closer together. On a spiritual level, Hand references multiple religious traditions, which use the image of an open hand to mean things like good fortune and blessing.