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Hand and Lizzard

Lizbeth Stewart (American, 1948–2013)

Lizbeth Stewart was a ceramic artist who lived and worked in Philadelphia and taught at the city’s University of the Arts. Hand and Lizzard, a mise-en-scène, or tableau, exemplifies Stewart’s intriguing and often disconcerting work. The relationship between the lizard, baring its teeth and appearing poised to strike, and the human hand is unclear, presented as a riddle for the viewer to decipher. Stewart’s visual cues are mysterious, encouraging inventive interpretations. We are left to decide if Hand and Lizzard is perhaps about fatal attraction, “biting the hand that feeds you,” or possibly addresses the constant battle waged between man and nature.

Stewart drew on the traditions of pre-Columbian and Mexican folk art, which often use animals to convey symbolism and allegory. She also found inspiration in the animals created by the Meissen factory in Germany, especially those modeled by Johann Joachim Kändler (1706–1775).

Object Details

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