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Eastman House collects portraits of “The Hands That Make Rochester,” created by world-renowned photographer Gary Schneider

Featured are Rochesterians who work to make our community a better place, including Mark Cuddy, Dave Fiedler, Jody Gage, Dan Meyers, Jeff Tyzik, and Abby Wambach

Rochester, N.Y., September 26, 2012—George Eastman House is collecting portraits of “The Hands That Make Rochester,” created by internationally renowned photographer Gary Schneider. This fundraising project for the museum is focused on capturing 25 images of the hands of people shaping today’s Rochester. Participants to date include Mark Cuddy, Dave Fiedler, Jody Gage, Dan Meyers, Jeff Tyzik, and Abby Wambach, the Olympic Gold medalist and celebrated soccer player.

It was George Eastman’s dream to make Rochester a “better place to live and work.” He made his vision a reality by supporting areas that enrich the community including arts, culture, health, corporate and civic life, and education. “The Hands That Make Rochester” embraces the spirit of George Eastman by honoring those who today are actively working to make Rochester one of America’s top places to live and work.

Schneider’s handprints involve an intimate darkroom process, combining photogram techniques with performance, all in the absence of a camera. The subject places his or her hand directly on unexposed photographic film, essentially stamping the oils and sweat from the hand. The resulting imprints on the emulsion transfer a tonal range of marks that Schneider ultimately enlarges to make the hand portraits.

“I consider handprint portraits to be as expressive as any of a face, more private, and possibly more revealing. They do not reveal race and, often, neither gender nor age,” said Schneider, who borrows his unique technique from the ancient caves of Lascaux, the Shroud of Turin, and 19th-century spirit photography.

The 25 handprints will be accessioned into the Collection of Photographs at George Eastman House as both art objects and historical records. These images also will serve as educational resources for students, researchers, and general audiences. Portrait sitters will receive a full-size print and a limited-edition book featuring this collection of hand portraits with brief biographies and sponsor recognition. Proceeds from the project benefit George Eastman House’s educational and preservation efforts.

Participants to date of “The Hands That Make Rochester”:

  • Tony Bannon, former Ron and Donna Fielding Director of George Eastman House, sponsored by a group of trustees from Eastman House.
  • Mark Cuddy, artistic director of Geva Theatre Center, sponsored by The Elaine P. and Richard U. Wilson Foundation
  • Dave Fiedler, CEO of ESL Federal Credit Union sponsored by LeChase Construction, LLC.
  • Jody Gage, director of strategic planning and retired championship player with the Rochester Americans (Amerks), as well as a member of the American Hockey League Hall of Fame, sponsored by QCI Asset Management, Inc.
  • Dan Meyers, CEO of Al Sigl Center, sponsored by Christine and Steven Whitman and Michelle and Bradley Whitman.
  • Susan Robfogel, partner with Nixon Peabody, sponsored by Nixon Peabody LLP.
  • Jeff Tyzik, Grammy®-winning conductor and composer and pops conductor with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, sponsored by The Elaine P. and Richard U. Wilson Foundation
  • Abby Wambach, Olympic Gold Medalist named 2011 Female Athlete of the Year (Associated Press), sponsored by MVP Health Care.
  • Glenn William, general manager of Midtown Athletic Club, sponsored by Tennis Corporation of America.

As the portrait participant in the darkroom interprets Schneider’s instructions and makes contact with the film, the personality of touch is captured in the imaging, as the marks are rendered by the physical condition of the hand combined with gesture. The final images reveal the hidden passages and typographies of the palm, capturing unseen depths and kinetic energies of the hand. The handprint is seen as a universal human mark, a network of lines and energy that only the subject’s hand at that moment can produce. Schneider began traveling to Rochester from New York City in 2011 to record the images and will continue the visits until all 25 portraits are captured. Participation in “The Hands That Make Rochester” includes sponsoring and honoring a community resident or taking part yourself. Those sponsoring a portrait sitter can join him or her during the Eastman House visit and meet Schneider.

For more information about the project and sponsorship, or to set up an appointment, please contact Katie Baldwin, assistant director of development, at (585) 271-3361 ext. 293 or kbaldwin@geh.org.

More about Gary Schneider

Gary Schneider was born in South Africa and moved to New York City, where he has lived since 1977. In the 1970s Gary worked in the theater of Richard Foreman and Robert Wilson. He also was making films in the 1980s that were included in local and international film festivals. He has been exhibiting his photography internationally since 1991. Schneider is best known for the Genetic Self-Portrait installation, which was completed in 1998 and exhibited globally. It continues to travel and was published as a book in 1999. In 2000 it received an Eisenstadt award from Life Magazine. In 2004, a survey, Gary Schneider: Portraits, was mounted at the Sackler Museum at Harvard University in Boston and received a National Endowment for The Arts grant. Yale University Press and Harvard University Art Museums published the catalog. In 2005 he received the Lou Stoumen Award from Museum of Photographic Art in San Diego. In 2005-06 Schneider’s Nudes was published by Aperture as a book and exhibited at Aperture Gallery. In 2007, his Nudes were included in The Naked Portrait exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland and traveled to The Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland. The next year, Flesh: The Portraiture of Gary Schneider was exhibited at The Museum of Photographic Art in San Diego. In 2009, Gary Schneider: Life @ Life Size was exhibited at the Contemporary Art Galleries, University of Connecticut. His HandBook was published by Aperture in 2010 as an artist book. Schneider’s work is represented in many museums including George Eastman House, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The National Gallery of Canada, The Guggenheim Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Musee de l’Elysee Lausanne, Harvard University Art Museum, and Boston Museum of Fine Art.