It’s a palpable wonder, the manual effort that Colorado artist Andrew Tirado puts into his sculptures. It’s no coincidence, either, that his subject is hands. He commemorates things that are man-made. He does so by showing the importance of craft. The further we go along in virtual realities, the less significant we find the hands. The human touch, that’s what he wants to preserve.
He works with reclaimed redwood. He makes hands that hang from ceilings, hands on pedestals and plinths that balance precariously on their fingertips. The material may not be fleshy. But it perfectly shows the furrows and callouses, the wear and tear, of daily use. It also confirms the tensile strength of fingers, the miracle of opposable thumbs, and the way that hands have evolved to serve prominent purposes in an analog age. For those of us who grew up learning cursive handwriting, for instance, it’s almost nostalgic to think how such manual skills have been replaced by digital counterparts. Accidentally or not, these hands look like they’ve been ripped off a shoulder. The sinews suggest some kind of violence, physical or metaphorical.
His aesthetic is a rhapsody. He equates art making with mountain climbing. There’s the getting out into the open space of the blank template of a journey. There’s the tactile feel of the ground beneath one’s feet. There’s the veering off course, with the attendant accidental, unexpected, often magical discoveries. Once the journey’s complete there’s the sense of accomplishment of having made a journey that no one else can make.
Tirado worked for three years as a studio assistant for Chuck Close. At present, he teaches woodworking and serves as the 3D Arts Supervisor at the Colorado College. This summer he is on the faculty for the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, Colorado. He had a recent solo show at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and won a Juror’s Choice Award for the “Art on the Streets” exhibition in Colorado Springs.