Where the Lines of Our Hands Meet from Courtney Bowles and Mark Strandquist


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Photo credits: Ricky Yanas (Photos 1-3 at Philadelphia City Hall); Husam Al-Obaidi (Photos 4-6 at Philadelphia City Hall - Sanctuary closing event); Marshall Weber (Photo 7 at Booklyn)

Where the Lines of Our Hands Meet artist book from Courtney Bowles and Mark Strandquist was collaborative and transformational from process to product.

This book is more than handmade paper and powerful artwork. It is the culmination of laughter and frustration, of honest conversation, of shared meals, and of hugs. It was created by an amazing group of individuals in resettlement from Syria and Iraq, living in Philadelphia over the course of several months in 2018.

The paper itself is as important as the words and images atop it. The book is comprised of handmade paper made that was created from negative news articles about migrants and refugees, which project collaborators wrote on top of with their own negative experiences based on stereotypes. In a group, each person read their experience outloud, tore up the paper, and transformed it into new sheets of blank handmade paper. Learn more about Mark and Courtney’s workshops here.

The collectively written poem, which is also the centerforld for the resource guide, weaves responses to such prompts as:

If a fortune teller looked at the lines of my hands, they would see that my journey to the US included…

إذا نظر العراف إلى خطوط يدي,سيرى ان رحلتي الى امريكا تضمنت…

When I think about my future, my hands will help me…

عندما افكر بمستقبلي , يدي ستساعدني في…

By reaching for…

من خلال الوصول إلى…

By letting go of…

بواسطة ترك ال…

By holding onto…

بواسطة الإمساك ب …

By shaking the hands of…

بواسطة مصافحة ال…

By making…

من خلال عمل…

The hands printed on the handmade paper are photos made by Mark of the hands of project collaborators. The Arabic calligraphy was hand done by project artist collaborator, Abdul Karim Awad.

This is one of kind work that was commissioned as part of the Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary project for Swarthmore College Rare Books Collection in 2018/2019 and exhibited at Swarthmore College McCabe Library,4th Floor of the Philadelphia City Hall, and Booklyn.

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