Dan is noted for his prize-winning fetish sculptures.
His work has been included in a national exhibit of contemporary Indian art, both on his own, and in collaboration with his former wife, Jovanna Poblano.
One of his signature designs is the Corn Maiden; carving natural shells is another.
This monumental piece combines both motifs in one sensational carving.
A gigantic, natural conch shell is embedded in a base of natural sandstone, with a scattering of real turquoise around the base of the shell.
The narrow, ringed base of the shell has been left in its natural rough texture, while the majority of the piece has been beautifully hand-polished to a gleaming surface.
The etched designs follow the natural form of the remarkably sized shell, culminating in a graceful Corn Maiden, artfully placed in the tapered end.
Corn Maidens symbolize prosperity, good health and happiness. Cornstalks need water and sun, in balance, to thrive.
So, starting at the lowest band, etched dragonflies and triangles flit around the band, symbols of water.
Above, on the voluptuous center of the curvaceous shell, plant forms and dragonflies share room with triangular forms.
Here, various stones are set, including natural red coral, turquoise, mother of pearl, and darkest purple sugilite.
Together, they symbolize earth, sky, and water, day and night.
The Corn Maiden herself is meticulously carved into the fragile shell.
Her hair is textured like straight bangs, and those parallel lines also symbolize rainfall.
The corn kernels that form her attenuated body are also carved with precision and grace, curving slightly to accentuate the curve of the shell itself.
Carving into a brittle sea shell is problematic, and requires great patience and skill. That’s why the artist has won so many awards.
Setting stones into a brittle sea shell is, likewise, a tricky endeavor.
Using the natural beauty of this magnificent and rare shell, the artist has embellished it with even more, in materials, design, and symbolic message.
Nature provided a special piece; the artist turned it into a masterpiece.