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March 22, 2005

Sculptural Installation at Smith
To Explore Hands and the Sense of Touch

Editor's note: For high-res digital images of some of Driscoll’s sculptures or of the sculptural installation at Smith, e-mail

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Visual artist Rosalyn Driscoll will present her sculptural installation “Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form” in the Oresman Gallery, Hillyer Hall, April 5-30. The exhibit is on display in conjunction with the “Women Practicing Buddhism” conference at Smith College from April 7-10 and is free and open to the public. An opening reception will be held in the gallery Saturday, April 9, from 5 to 6 p.m.

Driscoll’s sculptural installation grew out of a long-term fascination with touch. During rehabilitation from a hand injury, she became conscious of the sense and, throughout the last 15 years, has been making sculptures that explore touch and invite people to feel them.

In this installation, dozens of hands in various media and shades of white hang suspended within a steel frame by translucent monofiliment. Hovering in space, the hands create the sense of an invisible body being touched by all the hands. Each hand has its own character and was created from materials such as wood, plaster, alabaster, gauze, leather, paper and cloth in many sizes, ages, styles and gestures.

A series of video loops are projected onto the sculpture and the walls of the room from two sides and from above. The video, made in collaboration with videographer Beth Fairservis, portrays a variety of hands in motion—those belonging to a cellist, a potter and a physical therapist—with and without the object of their work. It provides the viewer a glimpse at the extraordinary dance of hands in ordinary activity. The video hands range in scale from tiny images that land on a single sculpted hand to large images that animate the walls of the room. Although a purely visual piece, its aim is to create in the viewer the feeling of touching and being touched.

Driscoll, a 1967 art history graduate of Smith and herself a practitioner of Buddhism, has been an artist for 30 years as painter, photographer, papermaker and sculptor. Currently her work explores touch as a way of knowing. Her research takes the form of making and exhibiting tactile sculptures; learning from people with visual impairments; gathering viewers’ responses; conducting workshops for educators; writing a book on touch in the visual arts, titled “Whole Body Seeing”; and collaborating with tactile researchers Christopher Moore and Mandayam Srinivasan at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Driscoll’s sculpture has been exhibited nationally and has received awards and fellowships from the New England Foundation for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. She lives and works in the Pioneer Valley.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
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