Artist Bruce Becker unveils ‘Touch is Essential’ Sculpture Art Installation

To honor essential COVID-19 pandemic workers, local artist Bruce Becker unveiled his latest sculpture art installation Monday morning at the Reading Public Museum. “Touch is Essential” features 200 clay tiles of Berks County essential workers from all walks of life.

Becker’s work of art sheds light on the strength of the collective character and the courage of human conviction to rise above the difficulties experienced during the pandemic.

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“Honoring essential workers and giving us all a way to once again connect by touch was the drive behind this piece” said Becker. “The workers chosen represent ALL essential workers. We thank them all, around the globe. Now the hands that we could not shake to thank in appreciation will be there forever, for each of us to thank in our own quiet way.”

The installation consists of eight sections, made of high-grade steel and measures approximately 4 feet across by 4 feet high by 2.5 feet deep. The sections are assembled to fit an area of approximately 37 feet across.

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Each section is made up of 25 off-white clay tiles mounted to it, 200 total tiles. Each tile measures 10 inches by 10 inches. Every tile has the actual hand impression of an essential worker from Berks County.

Additionally each tile is stamped with a brief description title for each worker (nurse, doctor, postal worker, funeral director, etc.) with an assigned number. By going to the coinciding website,, viewers can see and read more about how each of these heroes helped us through this difficult time.

“The Museum is proud to be the first location hosting this important installation, and we hope that it will travel extensively to share the stories of those who served during the pandemic and to inspire others to perform similarly important work in the future” said John Graydon Smith, director and CEO, Reading Public Museum.

During the opening ceremony, Becker shared that his ultimate mission of the installation is to allow guests to place their hand directly on and into the impression hand of the essential workers, to feel the connection to we all have with essential workers.

“This installation is a wonderful tribute, and something I believe can unify us as a community” said State Senator Judy Schwank. “We are so fortunate to have people like Bruce who stay here and contribute to our community. I want to thank everyone who had a part in putting this together. Most of all, I hope we all view, Touch is Essential, as more than a tribute to essential workers, but an opportunity to reconnect with a sense of touch.”

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Jason Hugg
Jason Hugg
Editor and photographer at Berks Weekly.
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