It has been a while since this much-awarded artist brought in a major piece like this breathtaking pendant. Her beautiful carved-leaf or -feather earrings and rings are favorites of ours and of the public’s, too, but every once in a while she has the time to produce a larger, more elaborate statement that exhibits her special artistry and style. Our staff’s reaction to this sensational Nature’s Warrior pendant was, “Wow!” That about sums up this incredible work, in materials, design, and execution.Jolene Eustace is keenly spiritual; traditional in her deep appreciation for nature, and a passionate partisan of stewardship of our planet.
The artist’s family signature of carved stones, are present, in the natural Royston turquoise, and natural red coral “feathers in the headdress. Popularized by her parents, Ben and Felicita Eustace, in the 1960’s and ’70’s, Jolene has adapted their technique to her own, vastly different work. Textured and darkened silver, worked into an archaic appearance, is her own stylistic characteristic, with the addition of hand-cut, -polished, -set, and -carved stones, punctuated with touches of 18-karat gold. This spectacular pendant has it all.
The headdress is embellished with gold suns, and a crescent moon, as well as the red coral and green turquoise. The top is cut into stepped forms, referring to rain, as well as steps of the sacred kiva space. A gold sun appears within a narrow vee-shaped slit, much as it does at the Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon, at the winter and summer solstices. The figure’s face is a glorious, shield-shaped, natural sugilite stone of gem quality. Little gold earrings dangle on either side of the head, sending out glimmering reflections, like the crescent moon and suns.
A hefty round wire of polished silver is a necklace, with dangles of sky-blue, natural Kingman turquoise on one side, and a teardrop of mellow, golden fossil ivory, on the other. The smooth surfaces of these dangles contrast beautifully with their dark and textured silver settings. A fabulously luminous piece of natural abalone shell contains all the colors of the rainbow, below one arm of the figure.
The torso of the figure is abstract but humanoid; one shoulder and arm is clearly rounded and muscular;and the whole body is three-dimensional and overlaid on the flat base of silver. The texture on the silver of the body differs from the texture on the headdress. This is a virtuoso example of abstraction that clearly suggests, but is not fully realistic.
The muscular arm seems to hold a war shield that is a coiled spiral with hand stamped dots, ending in an arrow shape, with an 18-karat wavy line applied on top. These are all water signs: the dots represent raindrops, the wavy line is a stream or river, the spiral symbolizes the river of life, and the arrow near the end of the spiral is like the Avanyu, the Pueblo water serpent. (Water is very, very good luck in the arid southwest.) Dangling from the shield, as they would be in real life, are three feathers, carefully lobed, with spines, and a gold circle on one. Feathers represent prayers, and the Nature Warrior is evidently praying for a balance of sun and water, upholding the traditions that go back to pre-historic Anasazi times.
Disregarding the symbolism, important as it is to the artist, this is a strikingly beautiful pendant, artfully composed of textured and polished metals, dark and bright stones, and rough and smooth surfaces. The materials are worthy of an offering to Mother Nature, which this piece represents. The natural sugilite, coral, turquoise, abalone shell and fossil ivory are all the best quality of their kind, and the workmanship is equally fine.
This is a large piece, meant to be worn often and proudly. It is simply, sensational.