A distinguished Navajo jeweler, his individual vision sets him apart from other award-winners.
His work is noted for its unique designs, often abstract, that still retain the cultural origins that inspired his talent.
This gorgeous bear pin is a wonderful example of his prize-winning ability to be both traditional and modern, at the same time – and to do it flawlessly, with outstanding stones.
Generally, Vernon prefers a rather baroque style, but this pin is simple, yet still striking.
Bears are almost universally revered by Natives for their strength, and hunting and survival skills. They are reputed to have protective, even healing, powers.
This curvaceous bear is beautifully abstract in form, but definitely recognizable. Despite the simplification, his bulk rounded back, and small ears, eyes, and tail are realistically rendered.
His heart-line, the source of his powers, is whimsically and decoratively depicted as a series of graceful, curved forms, reminiscent of waves in water. This is apt, since bears famously wade in streams, to catch fish.
The smooth silver body is overlaid, and the base silver that shows through the curlicues is slightly darkened and textured, for a beautiful contrast.
The artist’s choice of stones is also impeccable, and tied to tradition: Red is the color of earth and sun; blue symbolizes sky and water.
The glowing red coral and bright blue turquoise are both natural, and exceptional. The turquoise is likely Morenci, but we are not certain. It is, however, definitely natural!
With a skillful play of textures, a composition of rounded forms, and wonderful stones, this bear pin is remarkable – just like all the pieces this world-renowned artist creates.