The Pocantico Center Presents PORTRAITS OF PROCESS: The American Artists’ Hand Archive

Portraits of Process: The American Artists’ Hand Archive
September 21–December 23, 2023
David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center at Pocantico

TARRYTOWN, NY—The Pocantico Center presents Portraits of Process: The American Artists’ Hand Archive, a living exhibition that documents both the physical realities and personal narratives of contemporary American visual artists through their primary agent of creative process and expression: their hands.

On display at the David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center from September 21 through December 23, 2023, the exhibition showcases 34 expertly crafted bronze life castings created for the American Artists’ Hand Archive (AAHA). Using a traditional lost-wax casting technique, AAHA founder Vanessa Hoheb and artistic director Thomas Donahue took the molds for the project in the subject artists’ studios, where each selected the gesture, context, and patina of their hands for the cast. Accompanied by Mark Lacko’s abstract close-up photographs of the casts, the resulting deeply personal sculptures record in intimate detail the relationship between artist and material, transcending simple physiological record to honor both the artists’ contributions to American art and the counter-impact of the creative process on the artists. The participating artists span boundaries of age, ethnicity, and gender to reveal the powerful common denominator of simple humanity.

“Recording the hands of an artist in their studio is such an intimate experience based on trust and respect,” said Hoheb. “Each artist, in their own way, approaches aesthetic challenges through the most basic manipulation of materials with hands baring marks of use inextricably tied to contemporary American art.”

Hoheb began her career as an apprentice under her father, sculptor Bruce Hoheb. While working in his studio for artists like Willem de Kooning, Louise Nevelson, and Jasper Johns, she gained the technical skills of sculptural enlarging, mold making, casting, and restoration, as well as a respect for the skill and effort inherent in artistic creation. After a 35-year career in restoration and conservation—including as lead of the team responsible for restoring the Statue of Liberty in 1984—she established the ever-growing American Artists’ Hand Archive in 2010 to acknowledge the careers of artists whose works have had significant influence on American culture. Thomas Donahue joined as its artistic director in 2013.

“Thomas and Vanessa have produced an exceptional body of work in their 45-year partnership,” said Katrina London, manager of curatorial projects at The Pocantico Center. “The list of participants in their latest collaboration together reads like a ‘who’s who’ in American art, evoking renewed thought on the parallels and contrasts between creative practices and artists whose work is unlikely ever to be shown together.”

Established in October 2022, The David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center offers the first temporary exhibition space at The Pocantico Center, the community-facing extension of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund located on the historic Rockefeller family estate in Tarrytown, NY. The gallery will be open to the public on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and Thursdays from 3 p.m.–7 p.m. All visitors must reserve a free timed-entry ticket before visiting, available via

Portraits of Process includes casts of the following artists’ hands: Huma Bhabha, Chuck Close, William Crozier, Elizabeth Strong Cuevas, Michele Oka Doner, Eric Fischl, Mary Frank, April Gornik, Don Gummer, Peter Haines, James Hart, Bruce Hoheb, Bryan Hunt, Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Titus Kaphar, Mel Kendrick, Lucy Kim, Maya Lin, Todd McGrain, Toshio Odate, Tom Otterness, Beverly Pepper, Judy Pfaff, Rona Pondick, Richard Prince, Martin Puryear, Ed Smith, Kiki Smith, Kenneth Snelson, William Tucker, Ursula Von Rydingsvard, John Waters, and Jean Wiart.


Portraits of Process is organized by Vanessa Hoheb and Thomas Donahue of the American Artists’ Hand Archive with Katrina London, manager of collections and curatorial projects at The Pocantico Center. The exhibition is made possible with support from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.


Fall Forum: The American Artists’ Hand Archive
October 5, 7:00 p.m.
David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center at Pocantico

Vanessa Hoheb and Thomas Donahue will illustrate their shared history with behind-the-scenes images of artists in their studios and works in progress. Vanessa will describe how this unique journey led to the development of the American Artists’ Hand Archive. Following the presentation, guests will have the opportunity to handle and examine in detail a curated selection of some of the bronze life hand castings represented in the exhibition.


Sarah Edkins, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund: [email protected], 646-897-1672
Vanessa Hoheb, American Artists’ Hands Archive: [email protected], 845-389-5022