The iconic "Screaming Hand" image has maintained a strong visual presence in skate culture ever since its conception in 1985. Created by Jim Phillips Sr. in his art studio in Santa Cruz, CA, the hand has managed to affect generations of artists and skateboarders as a symbol of youth and skateboarding culture since the mid-80s. The House of Vans in Brooklyn recently hosted an art exhibit tribute to the 30 Years of The Screaming Hand to honor and praise this iconic image and what it represents. As a touring art exhibit, the show highlights the Screaming Hand as interpreted by a selection of artists with pieces made exclusively for the show.
The Creators Project caught up with Brooke Burt, the North American House of Vans programming manager, to give us a tour of the exhibition and a little insight as to what goes into producing a show of this caliber. To complete the show, 48 of the world’s most influential artists of the past 30 years were chosen by curator Mark Widmann and asked to interpret the hand. Burt says, “We added an additional 12 artists to the show who were a mix of localized New York artists and artists we've worked with us over the years. It was basically a showcase of Vans' extended family.” Burt explains, “For the opening night reception we had nearly 1,000 people in attendance and opened the doors to the community to come skate and experience the art. I loved watching the people who came to view the art get into watching the skateboarding and the skaters check out the art. It felt very collaborative.”
Most of the artists just so happen to skate or surf. Burt says, “We worked with artists who understand what the Screaming Hand means and wanted to honor the legacy. “It was interesting to hear everyone’s story while creating the work. Artist Oliver Peck for example, made his piece look like a skate banner with grommets. He showed us photos of his current bedroom which has a Speed Wheels Screaming Hand banner. He has had this banner in his room since he was young, so when asked to participate in the show he created his piece to the exact specs, really tying it back to the heritage of the Hand and how skateboarding has influenced him.”
The art show has been traveling the globe since July of 2015 in five custom road cases. The art show has traveled to some favorite skateboard shops and galleries, and toured some 10 global cities and is now is back in the US for 15 stops locations including New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and ending in Santa Cruz for a seven month showing. For the installation in New York, House of Vans Brooklyn partnered with local college art programs and Stoked Mentoring to host skateboarding lessons to at-risk youth, further lending the Screaming Hand to future skate generations.
To learn more about the Screaming Hand, click here.