In 2002, troubled by the increasingly fearful and dark tenor of the world, I began this series dedicated to hope. My process involves photographing people’s arms and asking them to write down their wish for a miracle or positive change in the world or in their life. I then create collages from these images and texts and title them with a phrase from the handwritten wish. The completed pieces serve as visual affirmations, emboldening these wishes for positive change.
This series was inspired by milagros (literally “miracles” in Spanish) — small metal talismans often sold outside of churches in places like Mexico. They come in myriad shapes – arms, legs, hands, hearts, cars, babies, and many more. A person would select the milagro that symbolically resonated with his or her wish for a miracle, and then put that intention into that object and hang it in a special spot in the back of the church. Arms and hands are the focus of my series, because it is with our arms and hands that we build tangible results in the world.
Please click on the thumbnails below to view larger images and titles.
Please scroll to the bottom to learn more about how they were made.
All of the collages in Milagros are made using transparent photographic imagery and layers of additional materials such as maps, handwriting, sheet music, pins and other items. The transparencies for the Milagros pictured here were created with an Epson inkjet printer with archival inks at Electric Works, under my direction. These collages are housed in black, hinged shadow box frames that measure 36 x 18 inches.
Initially my pieces were made to scale with the actual milagros sold in Mexico and are quite small (4-1/2 x 3-1/2” framed). Here I am showing only the later works, which are quite big in comparison. At 28 inches long, these collages render the arms photographed larger than life, articulating how miracles themselves are larger than everyday experience and require an expanded sense of the possible.