Open Studio

Seeing Hands: Coordination, memory, visualization

by , November 2015





8 1/2 x 11 in. paper, pen, pencil, or marker

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About Open Studio

Designed by practicing artists, the Open Studio classroom activities aim to connect high school teachers and students with key ideas and issues in contemporary art. See all of the Open Studio activities.

Rigo 98 (now Rigo 23), Found Lost Bird Poster, 1989-1998; mixed media on paper; Collection SFMOMA, Ruth Nash Fund purchase; © Rigo 23


I think it is important to understand that the “work” that ultimately communicates best, or that we develop a particular liking for, is not necessarily the one that involves the greatest deal of craft mastery, or even conscious control (i.e., a drawing done with your eyes closed might be your favorite versus one you struggled to make perfect).

In the process of making art, the artist is also interested in being “surprised” by his/her work or process and interested in learning about themselves in the process of pursuing their art, rather than just being interested in reproducing the visible world.

This drawing activity focuses on eye-hand coordination, memory, visualization, and what constitutes a work of art.

Part 1

  1. On a piece of paper, draw your left hand with your right hand. Then draw your right hand with your left hand.
  2. Trace your left hand with your right hand. Then trace your right hand with your left hand.
  3. With your eyes closed, draw your left hand from memory with your right hand. Then draw your right hand from memory with your left hand.

Part 2

  1. Line up the resulting three pairs of drawings of your hands on a large, flat surface or pin them up on a wall.
  2. Look at your drawings and consider different aesthetic and formal qualities, such as rhythm, composition, spatial relationships between line and background, etc.
  3. Choose a pair of drawings (left and right hand) that you think best represents your hands.

Part 3

  1. Line up the pair of chosen drawings.
  2. Look at the drawings as self-portraits.
  3. Write a short text (two or three paragraphs) introducing yourself and talking about the kind of creative practice (visual art, music, dance, cinema, computer programming, acting, architecture, design, etc.) you would pursue if given the chance.

Part 4

Couple your chosen drawings with the text. Now consider the drawings and the text as the project’s culminating piece of art. The work speaks of who you are, how you see, and what you would like to do in the future.

Rigo 23

Rigo 23 (on right) in conversation with Guarani spiritual and civic leader João da Silva; photo: Renato da Silva

Rigo 23

Born in 1966 in Madeira, Portugal Currently lives in San Francisco, California Rigo 23 has exhibited his work internationally for more than 20 years, placing murals, paintings, sculptures, and tile work in public situations. His art encourages viewers to examine their relationship to their community, their role as unwitting advocates of public policy, and their place on a planet occupied by many other living things. Rigo 23's works exist as art and as thoughtful public interventions. He is one of the founding members of the Clarion Alley Mural Project and teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute. He has been the recipient of many awards, including a SECA Art Award from SFMOMA in 1998. He received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and an MFA from Stanford University.
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