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Get Real 

click to enlarge COVER OF REAL: - IMAGE COURTESY OF TERILEE DAWN OUIMETTE
  • IMAGE COURTESY OF TERILEE DAWN OUIMETTE
  • COVER OF REAL:

What do dancers, plumbers, actors, surfers, and bakers all have in common? They all have hands!

Aside from this obvious anatomical common denominator, they all have stories, too, stories those hands can vouch for. Take Dean, an engineer, whose hands—minus one fingertip—recall his teenaged adventures in auto repair. There’s Jane, who wore a single, treasured ring on her left hand, whose unvarnished nails belied a film-star past.

Real, a new book by photographer Terilee Dawn Ouimette and author Shelley Malcolm, illustrates real people’s stories through images of their hands. While describing the trials and successes of their lives, Real gives only first names, providing profiles at once intimate and anonymous.

Chet’s gnarled fingers still wrap around a paintbrush, using the limitations of macular degeneration to his benefit as an impressionistic painter. Eve, who paints her remaining fingers a luscious peach, can tell you stories about her girlhood stint as a glider pilot.

“For as long as I can remember, I have been ashamed of the condition of my hands,” Ouimette writes in the book’s introduction. “Shaking someone’s hand made me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. It was as if my hands might reveal a secret. The weathered cracks, the rough skin, now the spots.”

A dream she had—of a slide show of images of people she admired—provided the template for Real.

“Suddenly, like a personal confession, I was relieved to know we all had something in common … the truth our hands tell about us.”

An easy read at about 150 pages, Real is broken up into 11 chapters, with themes such as “Hope,” “Renewal,” “Work,” “Inspiration,” and “Love.

For more on the book, visit marthamartha.net.

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