Danae Paparis

Voice of Hands

Voice of Hands

Photography | Gallery Exhibition | Print


I was deeply honored to win the 2014 Marilyn Meltzer Prize Award in Design, which enabled me to realize a personal project that looks into the nuances and characteristics of a part of us that is often overlooked– hands.

Hands fascinate me. As they hold bags, canes, each other, they keep a hold of stories with great expression and personality. I wanted to explore the extraordinary nature of hands of different people in Pittsburgh as they function in their ordinary way, in an ordinary day. In an effort to shout out their stories – from their veins, fingernails, skin, demeanor – I present the hands up close and larger than life.

The Voice of Hands exhibited in May of 2015, presented to the sponsors and design community.


I started out by photographing people's hands when they are least conscious of them. I started with working spaces, hands doing mundane things, everyday things, working hands, hands drawing, young hands and a few older hands. I felt like my story wasn't clear there, although I wasn't quite yet sure what it would become. I then turned to the photo studio and photographed many students, but then quickly realized my sampling of college students wasn't giving me the variety of stories that I really wanted to try and find. I turned to the streets of different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. The series of images I ended up using for the exhibit were all documented in Shadyside.

I believed that blowing up the images would expand impact andthe intimacy the audience would feel for each hand, by being able to see with clarity lines, frayed cuticles, wrinkles, strain, hair follicles, etc.. I used the funding I received toward the printing of these images. Large prints require special considerations, equipment, and extra cost.  

I held the exhibit in the Ellis Gallery of the College of Fine Arts building on campus. I also designed a print catalog for the exhibit, with the description of the concept for the project; and also as a memento for visitors. 

It was exciting to see in place, a full photographic and design system I created on my own. I was humbled and honored to have the opportunity to pull off this exhibit and project as a whole, but was even more grateful that my sponsor, Mrs. Marilyn Meltzer was able to attend the opening of my exhibition. My family (who came to see it too!) and I were able to thank her in person, and I was able to personally talk to her about my work, photography and process of the project. I also enjoyed learning more about Mrs. Meltzer and her artwork. Mrs. Meltzer gave me a huge gift that empowered me to pursue a personal interest and passion that I would not have had the chance to do so otherwise.


Printing Process...

(heh... just thought I'd show you the scale of these things)


I learned a lot over the course of this personal project. I learned to narrow a scope, to iterate a concept, and how to propose and design an exhibit from start to print to install to opening to tear down. I loved the all encompassing experience and I was very happy and beyond lucky to have had the privilege to do so with the award grant that I received.