Acclaimed for his paintings, as well as for his sculpture, Sheldon Harvey’s work is in many serious art collections, and museums, too. He won Best in Show at Santa Fe Indian Market, a few years ago, as well as many other awards. HIs sculptures are imaginative pieces, based on memories of the stories of Navajo lore, told by his grandfather and uncles. Imbued with traditional spirituality they are colorful, compelling, abstract and non-specific, like this one.
A humanoid figure, this piece combines blues and bright yellows that express the balance between sunlight and water, day and night; a balance that is the Navajo ideal. The head is dark, like a stormy sky, while the body is lit by the sun. There is a fan of reddish feathers at the waist of the figure, which symbolizes prayers, since birds fly up toward the heavens. The areas of blue represent water, sky and night; the yellow is for sun and corn; red refers to the earth, and green for crops.
The vividly striped kilt and sashes, at the side, end in vertical stripes which are meant to be fringes and rainfall, both. The underlying message is to pray for a bountiful harvest, thanks to a balance between sun and water, all year long. This is a central theme for all the tribes of the high desert, expressed here in a creative, Navajo guise.
Full of happy hues, archaic in form, and with an age-old theme, this is a powerful sculpture, that is decorative at the same time, by a major artist who happens to be Native.