The handoff took place in the parking lot of a Mt. Vernon, WA café. Stephanie Lile of Bering Street Studio parked her car next to mine, spread a blanket on the floor of the cargo area, and opened the rear door. We shuttled stacks of matted and framed photographs—twenty-four sepia images of working hands—from my car to hers.
We’d made a similar transfer a couple of years earlier following a six-month exhibit at the Washington State History Museum that drew from my first book, Hands at Work. Stephanie had curated the show in her role as the museum’s Head of Education.
Since the exhibit’s close, I’ve stored the photographs (by my collaborator, photographer Summer Moon Scriver), and other elements of the exhibit, in my guest room.
Periodically I attempted to find more opportunities to show these pieces and learned that promoting a museum display is much like marketing any creative project—it requires research about submission guidelines, proposal development, and countless emails and phone calls with potential exhibit sites. Despite my attempts and my certainty that the exhibit, like the book, would appeal to a wide audience, no venue accepted it. The photographs, still wrapped in thick, brown craft paper, remained safely stacked in my house.
Fortunately, in the intervening years, Stephanie has started Bering Street Studio, offering “high-quality traveling exhibits specially designed for smaller venues and budgets.” Drawing on more than two decades of museum education and exhibition development experience, Stephanie launched Bering Street Studio earlier this year. Her mission is to serve museums across the country by developing “traveling exhibitions for the explorer in all of us.”
I’m delighted and honored that “Hands at Work” is the newest addition to Bering Street Studio’s exhibit family. I can’t wait to see where these working hands might turn up next.