Here she goes: Shelby Hodge's hand in the bucket of goop, aka silicone rubber, for casting with Patrick Medrano. (Photo by Katy Anderson)
Artist Patrick Medrano prepares the silicone rubber for the casting. (Photo by Katy Anderson)
Artist Patrick Medrano explains to Shelby Hodge the artwork that he is designing for the Houston Arts Alliance Gala. (Photo by Katy Anderson)
As Patrick Medrano explains the process Shelby Hodge appears a bit worried about sticking her hand in a bucket of goop for a casting. (Photo by Katy Anderson)
Shelby Hodge is a good sport dipping her hand into a bucket of silicone rubber in the name of art. (Photo by Katy Anderson)
Shafik Rifaat is along for the ride encouraging his wife, Shelby Hodge, to be strong during the artful process. (Photo by Katy Anderson)
Patrick Medrano works with the cast of Shelby Hodge's hand, part of a piece for the Houston Arts Alliance gala auction. (Photo by Katy Anderson)
Shelby Hodge's hand cast by Patrick Medrano as part of a work for the Houston Arts Alliance gala auction. (Photo by Katy Anderson)
A sneak peek at Patrick Medrano's work in progress featuring the hand and words of PaperCity's Shelby Hodge. (Photo by Katy Anderson)
Chatting over lunch with Houston Arts Alliance CEO John Abodeely several weeks ago, I was game to participate in creating an artful auction item for the nonprofit’s “Add on Art” gala. While he explained what artist Patrick Medrano had in mind, I was a bit baffled. But OK. Whatever. I’m in.
Thursday morning, I drove through the highly confusing construction maze surrounding Medrano’s Hardy Street studio. Apartments going up by the hundreds. No street signs. One way streets. Roads closed. The artist had to suffer the 100 degree Houston heat to walk through the neighborhood and guide me to the Hardy and Nance Studios, named for the intersecting streets. For which there were no signs.
Good sports all, I took a seat on the sofa in Medrano’s studio where he explained the process that would create a cast of my writing hand and the beautiful thought process behind it. The title: Shelby Hodge and Patrick Medrano’s “Poetry in Motion.”
“This piece was inspired by the beauty of a writer and a sculptor and what those two artists would bring together as one for HAA’s Add-On,” Medrano explains. “Miss Shelby has been writing for so long and her writing is so beautiful and articulate and they tell such a clear story that you feel like you’re there.
“So when I was asked by HAA, I immediately had a vision of capturing Miss Shelby’s hand, her actual hand, ring and all, so that it could be manipulated by the audience at our gala opening and make it actually scroll across her text creating an actual movement with her actual hand across her actual writing.
“And what is the meaning and the definition? The definition and meaning is powerful and strong because it takes a powerful woman and a powerful artist to not only have the vision but to do something about it to give it back to the audience. This piece celebrates not only the writer and the sculptor but it celebrates all artists and their strength to give back what they pull from within.”
The Casting Process
Medrano began by mixing a powdery silicone into 12 cups of water in a bucket, stirring until the substance began to thicken. When it reached the right consistency, I plunged my hand in with my index finger pointing as if I were reading lines on a page.
The rubbery solution, actually silicone rubber, thickened around my hand and after it began to firmly grasp, Medrano asked me to pull it out. The mold was formed and the sculptor filled it with plaster. After it dried, a good number of hours later, Medrano broke the mold and voila! My hand was captured forever.
The hand can be manipulated back and forth by one person while another runs the scroll that will stream selected articles from my archive including such meaningful articles as the story of my engagement to my husband Shafik Rifaat.
The finished product will be on the auction block at the Houston Arts Alliance’s “Add on Art” gala on October 20 at The Warehouse and Silver Street Studios. There, you can raise a hand to buy my hand.