Cliff is a major figure in the world of sculpture, not only Native sculpture.
With pieces in the US Capital Building, the Albuquerque airport, and many other public venues, Cliff’s prize-winning work is widely known and acclaimed.
Aside from monumental sculptures, he creates equally wonderful pieces in a scale for private display, like this one.
Well-sized to display in a niche, sturdy shelf, or mantel, this is a combination of three stones: alabaster, granite and marble.
Consequently it is extremely heavy, as well as impressively handsome, so choose its place before you set it down, and keep it there.
The carefully detailed alabaster portrait is of a woman, sitting on the sidelines of a ceremony, waiting for the next song to be chanted.
She is dressed for a special occasion, with an imposing, four-strand necklace of heishi, with a pendant shell, and bracelets on each wrist, one with a center stone.
The artist’s skill beautifully shows the soft folds of her one-shoulder manta (traditional Pueblo dress) and sash belt.
Her hair, arranged in the traditional style, is pulled back into a complex bun at the back, tied with a fringed length of cloth, while the front is shorter, falling freely, with thick bangs.
The texture and direction of her hair is meticulously carved, as is the hair tie, her features, her jewelry and dress, and her graceful hands.
She tranquilly sits on a slice of red and dark figured granite, which is placed on a block of lovely, pink and grey veined marble. The base is dense, black granite.
All the stones complement each other: the soft pinkish cast of the alabaster is repeated in the marble; a darker, warm reds in the granite, just below the figure, relates to that; finally, the black base repeats the mottled blacks in the variegated granite she sits on.
Realistic, the figure nevertheless exudes a serenity that is spiritual, and the considered arrangement of stones beneath her, adds more power and substance to the piece.
From every angle, she is a beautiful piece of stone art.