Exhibit shows secret of life hidden in palms

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The way their lines connect and spread like highways, a roadmap of journeys spent holding, expressing, healing and building &045;&045; they&8217;ve always fascinated artist Rachel Brown Fowler.

&8220;I&8217;ve always been interested in hands and what they reveal,&8221; Fowler said.

Her current gallery showing, &8220;My Mother, My Father: Their Hands, Their Home,&8221; explores the vessels of creation, sharing a glimpse of the heart and spirit of the late Dr. Clyde Wilson and Chloette Oliver Brown.

&8220;I think the universality of the hands and the objects in the home speak to a lot of people,&8221; she said.

The collection of black and white photos, which Fowler snapped 15 years ago, began when the curious beauty of two bent nails hammered into her father&8217;s workshop bench caught her eye. A product of the Great Depression, he often fashioned simple

&8220;inventions,&8221; in this case a pencil holder, out of the things he had available.

&8220;I was always fascinated with my father, how if there was a problem, he would come up with his own solution for it,&8221; Fowler said.

Photos in the exhibit reveal other treasures buried in her father&8217;s workshop as well as his years as a Birmingham surgeon and obstetrician.

Snapshots of her mother&8217;s silk stockings draped over a chaise lounge and the thimble that was always on-hand for sewing projects stand in contrast, glimpses of days spent shaping a home from the inside out.

The photo essay represents the &8220;generation of our fathers and mothers who knew the Depression, careers, children, grandchildren and a well-lived life,&8221; Fowler wrote in the exhibit&8217;s introduction. Also included are a few of Fowler&8217;s forays into photo collage. Each based on a theme, one looks at the circle of life through flower imagery.

The exhibit runs through mid-July at the Academy of Fine Arts in Columbiana.

It is open Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 669-0044 for more information.