Ann Hirsch focused on making connections through public art and sculpture with many different groups of community members, especially youth. Her residency looked at the theme of hand gestures as a lens through which to explore current issues and future goals, as well as the use of non-verbal communication modes in the expression of fear, protection, and protest.
I think that artists can play a very important role in shaping government policy and practice by becoming vehicles for communities, by becoming essentially their tools. I come from a public art background and one of the things that I have struggled with is learning how to include community in a practice that is often a little bit rigid and exclusionary just because it’s very technical. Through the residency I have learned how to bring to bear some of the tools that I take to public art into a community process, and also at the same time learn how to bring a community into my process. It’s been this kind of reciprocal approach, and I think in the end I am hoping it will lead to for me a means to bring the community more into policy making and public art making.
The hand molds she created act as a time capsule for a center and neighborhood that is undergoing many changes. By casting the hands of the youth, staff, and community members she crafted a physical representation of the centers identity during that moment. Ann also initiated conversations around the need for public art within the community center. This dialogue is continuing on thanks to her support.