A show of hands supports Blossoms exhibit

Leah Lewman, "The Climb II," oil painting
Leah Lewman, "The Climb II," oil painting (Submitted photo)

The eighth annual "Blossoms of Hope" exhibit benefits causes including the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center. Its presentation at the Columbia Art Center serves as a reminder that visual artists find innovative ways in which to address this difficult subject.

Titled "Healing Hands: Words of Inspiration," this year's exhibit has works in mediums including painting, drawing, photography and sculpture. There are 50 artworks on display, a number that acknowledges Columbia's 50th birthday.


And there are also accompanying poems by various writers associated with the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society.

Several of the visual artists really take the show's title to heart by representing images of hands.

In Dennis Gilbert's photograph "Offering Caring and Comfort," there is a close-up view of two people holding hands. Similarly, Eric Hagemann's photo "Comfort" is a close-up look at the hand-in-hand closeness of two people.

Diane B. Dunn's photo "Christopher''s Hands" depicts somebody's hands clasped against that person's torso. As in the other close-up shots, the emphasis is on the body rather than on the face.

Hands are also featured in works in other mediums.

In Leah Lewman's oil painting "The Climb II," the compositional tight cropping presents a person's arms reaching across an otherwise empty space. This prompts the viewer to concentrate on the expressively posed hands, which can be imagined to express any number of emotions.

Sara Caporaletti's "Communion" consists of a line-up of seven small plaster sculptures, each of which is shaped like a hand. The cupped position of each hand obviously is open to interpretation, but the work's title suggests that these hands are ready to receive whatever life has to offer. Hopefully, they are primed to receive something of a spiritually beneficial nature.

Yet another communicative hand is found in Joseph Whittington's pen-and-ink drawing "Healing Power." It depicts a clenched and upraised fist. That's an expression of determination, of course, and conveys a sense that such a determined position is an important part of the healing process.

Most of the other artwork in this exhibit is representational to varying degrees, demonstrating the physically expressive possibilities of head-to-toe depictions.

In Trudy Babchak's acrylic painting "Circle of Hope," there are three lithe figures who stretch in dancer-evocative poses. The artist's somewhat abstracted treatment of these figures encourages you to think about them in terms of human bodies as curving forms arranged in what amounts to circular motion. The figures are closely interlinked in such a way that one gets a sense of emotional as much as physical closeness.

Babchak is hardly the only artist in the exhibit who approaches the general topic in a way that invites metaphorical interpretations.

One of the most striking works in that respect is Wanda Hurt's watercolor "Marigold Exploding." It's an extreme close-up of the orange-red petals of a single marigold blossom. This brightly-colored flower is such a cheerful expression of natural splendor that it's sure to lift the spirits of anybody standing in front of it.

"Healing Hands: Words of Inspiration" runs through April 23 at the Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth in Long Reach Village Center in Columbia. Call 410-730-0075 or go to