Seeing Hands: A Reflection

It was summer 2018. Out of the blue, I started seeing hands. Somewhat disturbed, I began drawing hands obsessively to let the images out of my head. I only stopped when my hands became so achy & couldn’t draw anymore. In July-August 2018, I drew over two dozen hands. A friend commented, “You should have your own hands exhibition”. “Never. I am not an artist, remember?” I replied.

In September 2018, I saw a call for sponsored & juried exhibitions by the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Arts Council | Le Conseil des arts d’Ottawa. In previous years, those selected were largely professional artists. I convinced myself that I’d not be selected, but with a last minute impulse decision I submitted mine anyway. About 2 months later, an email came telling me that I was selected for 2020 exhibitions!

Being excitedly nervous, I missed selecting the preferable exhibition schedule in the pull-down menu of the artist registration form. My slot fell on the default, which was January 2020. Afterwards, I cursed myself. Who would be so stupid to choose the worst time of the year? January-February would be too cold & too gloomy for an exhibition! But it was too late to change. The organizer said it could only change if somebody else wanted my slot. Obviously, nobody wanted it, so the show must go on in the deep-freezing months!

In January 2019, something happened. As a result, I couldn’t draw/write at all for the first 9 months of the year. In December 2019, something bigger happened; it forced me to be off at least for a year. I nearly cancelled the exhibition. Eventually, with a little help from my friends, the show went on with a lovely opening night held exactly three years ago, on 15 January 2020. My off days clock ultimately started tickling the next day. About the opening night, one of my colleagues said, “It was magical”. He was probably right. It warms my heart to recall the memory of that enchanted evening.

When the exhibition was taken down in February 2020, the gallery counter recorded over 20,000 visitors! The guest book was filled with hundreds of lovely and wonderful messages that caressed my soul.

In March 2020 the pandemic hit the world, including Ottawa, thus all in-person exhibitions were cancelled. So, it turned out that I was lucky for accidentally choosing the worst month(s) of the year!

Initially, I had invitations to do the “Hands” exhibitions in other places in Canada, the US, & Indonesia. Unfortunately, I had to cancel them all. I may consider holding them in the future. In the meantime, I am considering but still unsure whether I’d do a sequel to this series or not.

For now, I share you an e-collage of my “Hands” (in much smaller sizes). Who knows, someday you may see the original!

merlynalim, ottawa 15.01.22.