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The Feathered Hand

Feathered HandThe Feathered Hand by local artist Alison Hildreth is Portland Public Library’s most recent public art acquisition. The sculpture is suspended in the sun-lit Main Library Atrium near the Elm Street entrance and is comprised of glass and plastic puppets, lenses, metal wire, sand, insects and carborundum; it measures 20′ x 6 x 24′.

Hildreth states:  “The puppets are seen hanging with groups of lenses that can enlarge or diminish them. They are interspersed with alchemical vessels of varying sizes and shapes. The installation reflects a long-term interest that I have had in puppets since childhood, a time in our lives when our imagination is so vivid and we can invest our dreams and aspirations in inanimate objects. Much of my work has its genesis in books, and I am so very happy to have The Feathered Hand in the Portland Public Library.”

The piece takes its title from a poem by Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert entitled “Chosen By The Stars”:

It is not an angel
it is a poet
he has no wings
only a right hand

covered by feathers
he beats the air with his hand
flies up three inches
and immediately falls again

When he has fallen all the way
he kicks with his legs
hangs for a moment
waving
his feathered hand…

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In addition to this installation and our ever-changing exhibits in the Lewis Gallery, PPL has a notable collection of donated and commissioned art pieces throughout our locations.

Descriptions of many pieces and information about the artists are available on PPL’s Digital Commons.