This blog will post between the Winter Solstice and the end of the calendar year, a time in which many cultures have a celebration. I wish you a very Happy whichever Holidays you celebrate and best wishes for the new year.
To honor the season, my continuing consideration of power fists and related symbols will take a philanthropy break and focus on graphics and logos with open hands. In the US, the end of the calendar year also ends the tax year for individuals. So, this fortnight is also a time in which organizations request donations. The “Giving Tuesdays” of October and November give way to beg letter month and many of these fundraising campaigns use hands in their continuing or year-end logos.
The one that we see all over New York was created for City Harvest, the hunger-fighting organization that links retail food services with distributing organizations such as food pantries and soup kitchen. All of the supermarket chains, healthy fast food places, farmers markets, and hotels, as well as occasional events like the Chocolate Expo, donate their un-used goods. The graphic is seen everywhere because the graphic is not only on the beg letters and web sites, but on the white trucks that do the pick-ups and deliveries. Since City Harvest also promotes healthy eating programs, the graphic shows a line of brightly colored hands holding fresh vegetables and fruit. https://www.cityharvest.org/
Hands are also showing up on graphics urging individual service and social justice. I have also seen similar collages of different sized, brightly colored open hands on a variety of Jewish volunteer service organizations, such as the Areyvut “A Kindness a Day” calendar.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of America has a logo of blue lines that can be seen as abstract or as the fingers of two hands linking. It symbolizes connections and interdependence. It reminds me, however, that the same shape can be made with an individual’s hands, one facing up, one facing down. A similar hand position can be found on a small, ancient Neo-Sumerian statue of Gudea at the Metropolitan Museum. The diorite figure is seated, wearing a one-should drape with large areas of text rising from its hem. The statue can be seen (and the text translation read) on the Met’s wonderful on-line illustrated chronology of art. When this statue shows up in art history, it is unusually used to demonstrate realistic musculature outside Greece, since the figure has noticeable shoulders and biceps. But I remember its hands, which are folded over each other in a position that MMA’s caption depicts as pious reserve and serenity. You can also interpret them as promising “I come in peace,” since the hands would have to break the link to reach for a weapon. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/59.2/
The cover of my high school alumnae magazine’s Fall 2018 issue, “The Giving Issue,” shows a variety of hands in a diversity of skin tones. Some are linked, forming a heart shape, while others hold hearts of various sizes (one on a cell phone). They cup gifts, a red ribbon, a globe, and a soup bowl. Four hands grip each others wrists, forming a square symbolizing shared responsibility. The cover is the only example this week for which I could find an artist credit; the excellent graphic design is credited to Andrea Pemberton.
The graphic which begins the blog comes from The Philanthropy News Digest, an e-newsletter produced by the Foundation Center. It includes a Community Foundations Update in each issue to announce funding initiatives and grants specific to localities (states, cities, etc.). Its graphic shows a 6 open hands facing into each other, with fingers overlapping. The skin tones and colored hands form a circle or star, and like all of the graphics in this blog, it symbolize both generosity and mutual support .
If you enjoy my political graphic obsessions, I recommend that you look at the Turbulent London blog, also on WordPress. The author, cultural geographer Hannah Awcock, often writes about political decals, bumper stickers, and posters that she finds around England.