Alexis Lavine

Twenty Seconds, 2020
Watercolor on Paper
15 x 15 in
How many times a day, since the pandemic began, have we spent twenty seconds washing our hands? We lather up, hum the Happy Birthday song, or whatever we do to measure the time, and then hope that this will magically keep us healthy.

I was standing at my sink one day, humming away when I got kind of mesmerized watching my hands, their tandem movement, the slip of the bubbles, the sound of the running water, the scent of the soap. It was a transfixing and transformative moment. And it made me realize that this image - this totally ordinary moment of handwashing - was completely iconic for this weird and scary time we are experiencing.

So I decided that I wanted to paint my hands. Yes, those are my hands in the painting. I wanted to make them look graceful and even prayerful. I chose to put the window behind them, to remind us of the bigger world beyond this intimate moment and perhaps suggest a bit of hopefulness out there. All that green outside the window - the world is indeed alive!

I want my viewers to see my painting, and contemplate the various levels of meaning within it, not just the picture. And the next time they wash their hands, perhaps they will experience it in a new way. When art can communicate the beauty and the wonder in an ordinary moment, which we usually don’t even think about…that really elevates art to a much more meaningful position.