Rarely are a mother’s hands the focal point of any photograph, story, or memory. They perform a “behind the scenes” role in life—like an accompanist working to make the singer shine through many hours of solitary work at the piano. On any given day, a mother’s hands perform countless untold and, usually, unconscious movements. As a mother of four young children, I am often unaware of these repetitive, split-second movements. I photographed my own mother’s hands a few years ago. Her hands held still, showing veins and wrinkles, posing for my photograph away from their familiar work of washing dishes, folding laundry, and preparing meals.

The first time motion was captured by a camera was in the late 1800s. Eadward Muybridge’s motion studies of a horse galloping still captivates me—each frame freezing a moment in time—a moment soon left unnoticed or forgotten. It is this elusive moment that I seek to reveal to the viewer.

I photographed a dozen mothers—friends of mine--twelve pairs of hands doing what they do each day. None of their hands had been photographed doing work before. Their hands, full of light, emerge from the dark.

These hands represent the universal mother—and the work they quietly do.

-- 2017

© 2020 Emily Hawkins.
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