This artist is magisterial in talent, as well as height, and is noted for paintings and sculpture, but especially for his sculptural fetish bears.
Mark grew up surrounded by the art of his father, acclaimed painter Patrick Swazo-Hinds.
While still in his teens, Mark began to develop his widely acclaimed artistic path of carving award-winning stone fetishes.
He tries to maintain historical customs, practices and rituals through his traditional stone carving methods.
These are combined with the intricate and ancient skill of creating medicine bundles, which convey the animal’s powers to the owner and the spirits.
When a piece is completed, the artist blesses it, in the traditional way of his Pueblo.
Although greatly influenced by traditional rituals and ceremonies, he creates contemporary sculptures, to be enjoyed in our time.
Bears are the top of the animal food chain, and are honored by almost all tribes for their protective strength and hunting abilities.
Following tradition, this bear’s form is suggested, rather than detailed. The result is abstract, and seemingly contemporary, although ancient in origin.
This monumental sandstone bear is so large it is more an impressive sculpture, decorated as a fetish.
One slab of sandstone is lightly carved with a zig-zag heart line, running through the bear’s body to its mouth. This represents the powers of the animal.
Interrupting the heart line in the mid-section, is a carved, decorative rain design, featuring rain clouds, a straight line referring to rainfall, and jagged lightning .
The designs are colored with a natural, red earth pigment.
The principal decorative element, however, is the elaborate medicine bundle, composed of natural pheasant and parrot feathers, intertwined with seashells and ancient pottery shards.
This eruption of rounded forms contrasts strikingly, in texture, shapes and colors, with the bland, creamy sandstone.
Horizontal pheasant, and brilliant coral parrot feathers extend along and beyond the back of the bear, emphasizing the long axis of the piece.
The artist arranged some of the iridescent pheasant plumes to show hints of the same coral as the parrot feathers, for visual continuity.
The sea shells have touches of coral, too, so every element relates to the others.
Even the carved wooden base is visually integrated, with its mellow brown reprising tones in the feathers.
This unique fetish sculpture is a triumph of talent, tradition, and artistic skill, by an internationally collected, prize-winning artist.