Roxanne Swentzell: Extraordinary People
Herrin, Alica, Southwest Art
Roxanne Swentzell, a member of the Santa Clara Pueblo, is one of the most respected artists working today. Her figurative bronzes of Native American women, warriors, and clowns capture the beauty and dignity of her subjects, often with a touch of humor or self-awareness. In addition to having won several top awards at the Santa Fe Indian Market and the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market, Swentzell's work is in the permanent collections of museums around the world In Roxanne Swentzell: Extraordinary People, Santa Fe writer Gussie Fauntleroy teams up with the artist to discuss the major themes of her work and the ideas that led to some of her most acclaimed sculptures. "Any art she makes ... must be a full expression of herself and her experiences and observations of life," Fauntleroy writes in the introduction. "And it must be aimed at communicating with all people-Indian and non-Indian-about the things we share as humans."
DESPAIRING CLOWN, CLAY, 10 x 12 x 22.
"He's peeling off his stripes to see what's underneath," Roxanne explains. Even a Pueblo Clown, with wisdom born of having carefully observed human nature, needs to look within himself And if he does, you can be sure we all need to examine what's beneath the surface. Still, it often takes a desperate situation-even for a Clown-before we reach this point. "Our veneer, our masks, can sometimes become a prison in which we forget who we really are inside," Roxanne says. "We can spend our lives working to hold our outside image in place."
IN CRISIS, CLAY, 8 x 14 x 12.
When we accept the idea that we need to change the way we look or act in order to be beautiful, to be accepted or to fit in, we automatically reject a part of ourselves. It's a treacherous, self-destructive attitude, but it often affects us in subtle, insidious ways. In Roxanne's thinking, a healthy step has been taken when we become aware of the threat and struggle to fight it off, when we're terrified enough to grip the hand with its clawing, bright red nails and hold it at bay.
"She recognizes that these images of what she's supposed to be, especially from television, are an attack on her," Roxanne says of this figure. …