A spectacular mixed media figure by this giant of Native and non-native art. Sheldon Harvey has won Best in Show at Santa Fe Indian Market, and his paintings hang in art museums. His constructed masks, paintings, and fantastic figures are in private collections, as well. The striking images he paints and constructs are his artistic visions of the supernatural and sacred beings from the Navajo creation and emergence stories that he heard as a child. He keeps his images non-specific, as imagined.
This one impresses first with its size, then with the vibrancy of its colors, varied decoration, and dynamic forms. It represents the Navajo ideal of a balance in nature. The appealing colors and complex painted elements contrast rain and sun, earth and sky: red for earth, gold for the sun, blue for water and sky, green for the plants and crops that grow, thanks to the balance of water and sun. The natural parrot feathers held by the figure symbolize prayers for rain – even in the blue hue! – since birds fly as high as the heavens, it seems.
These symbolic colors have been composed with wonderful artistry, in shapes and designs that give off both splendid energy and welcome calm – again, contradictory elements in balance. The head is full of slashing motion and animation, with triangular and diagonal shapes and rich, saturated colors of red, blue and gold. The body is washed with green, for plant life, and dotted with teal circles, which refer to drops of water. Long, etched, triple crosses symbolize dragonflies, or possibly cornstalks, too – the prayed-for result of rain and sun in harmony.
Incised, parallel vertical lines throughout the figure’s kilt, sashes, etc represent rainfall; multicolored stripes suggest rainbows. Although most of the body of the figure is painted in a wash of soft hues, there are accents of the same assertive red, teal and green, toward the bottom, as are in the head. Harmony in composition, too. A superb mixed media sculpture by this celebrated and prodigiously gifted artist.