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Friday, September 18, 2015

Clemson University Art Department Artist's Talk, September 21: Holly Hanessian, Touch in Real Time

Artist Talk:  September, 21, 2015 at 6pm, Room 1-100

Reception with the artist to follow

Exhibition information:  Touch in Real Time
August 17 – September 24

The Center for Visual Arts (CVA) - Lee Gallery at Clemson University presents “Touch in Real Time,” an exhibition of ceramic work by artist and educator, Holly Hanessian on view Aug. 17 – Sept. 24. The artist will give a lecture on Sept. 21, 6 p.m., Lee Hall, Room 1-100, with a reception to follow in the Lee Gallery at 7:30 p.m., 1-101 Lee Hall. The exhibit, lecture and reception are free and open to the public.

Touch is an intimate and universal experience. It instantly communicates in a simple and direct method while transcending the barriers of language. “Touch in Real Time” explores the power of touch at the crossroads of art, emotion and neuroscience. This exhibit interweaves the popular educational movement, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) by revealing how the science and arts are connected to each other.

Hanessian starts from the repetitive act of pressing wet clay between the hands of two individuals and explores the intimate, physiological and transformative experience of a handshake.

“My artwork responds to cultural shifts examining genetic markers and traits, the daily consumption of pharmaceuticals and adaptive behaviors on our DNA,” she said.

Working alongside Greg Siegle, Ph.D and his lab of behavioral neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, P.A. Hanessian collected and examined data retrieved from brain scans using EEG and MRI. The goal of the research project was to measure the level of the bonding hormone, Oxytocin while participants were engaged in a 15 – 20 second handshake, the time it takes oxytocin to be released in the body. The exhibition showcases over 1,500 fired porcelain handshakes, a participatory station, graphs and research data from the project in an exhibition that examines a common, but often overlooked experience handshakes.

Hanessian takes this common gesture and drills down to the elemental experience of the act. “Touch in Real Time” provides a fresh perspective and a re-affirmation on the importance of touch. The exhibition reminds viewers about the physical transformation our bodies undergo when we insert touch back into our daily experience.

The Center for Visual Arts-Lee Gallery at Clemson University will be open for this exhibit 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays (excluding university holidays). It is located in 1-101 Lee Hall, 323 Fernow St. For more information, contact Denise Woodward-Detrich at

The workshop, reception and exhibit are free and open to the public because of donations from supporters and our Friends of the Center for Visual Arts.

About Holly Hanessian

Hanessian received her MFA from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA and is currently is a professor of art and the area head of the ceramics program at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL.  A child of two Armenian parents, she creates work that explores the crossroads of our DNA and the environment which is influenced by our daily experiences.

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