Magisterial in talent, as well as height, this multi-talented artist is known for paintings and sculpture, but especially for his sculptural fetishes, most often, bears. Here, he has incorporated a traditional stone fetish bear, with accompanying feathers and power bundles, into a powerfully impressive, contemporary sculpture.
In 2007, Mark was in Mozambique to teach jewelry making and wood working, and he noticed the posts outside many homes, many with round holes in them. He learned that the holes are carved to allow spirits to pass through and protect the inhabitants. They reminded him of similar things seen at the Pueblos, and inspired him to commemorate his trip to Africa with his own style of housepost.
A gracefully proportioned zebrawood slab rises above a stepped mahogany base, with a fetish bundle, attached with deerskin strands to a natural, painted antler, at one side. A vibrant explosion of natural parrot and turkey feathers is a permanent bouquet of brilliant color. The fluffy forms almost overwhelm the stone bear, but serve also to soften the rigid lines of the wood. A natural seashell and two historic pottery shards also make up the medicine bundle, while additional fans of turkey feathers dangle from the ends of the antler’s points and yucca boughs.
A jagged, carved piece of lighter wood is partially visible behind the fetish bundle, signifying lightning. Together with the lines that decorate the pottery shards, this symbolizes rain storms. Water is the blessed source of life. Feathers traditionally are thought to carry prayers up to the heavens, and pheasants are hunting trophies, as are deer, symbolized by the antler. Together, bear antler and feathers represent hunting skills and success – good meat to eat! – while water is essential and precious, so the whole imposing piece carries a very traditional message of good luck, good health, happiness, abundance and protection.
Traditional, yes, but the form and design of the whole piece results in a contemporary sculpture of elegance. serenity and majesty. A gorgeous blend that is creative, original, meaningful, and visually stunning.