York, Star Liana
Star Liana York - Desert Muse - Blossom
- Medium: Bronze
- Edition: 35
- Size: 15'' x 8'' x 5''
In the imagined scene behind this sculpture a young Hopi Maiden gazes serenely across her desert homeland before climbing the steep foot-trail leading to her mesa-top dwelling. She is dressed in traditional attire for daily work: a handwoven dress designed to leave the shoulder bare (by 1900 many Hopi women were being encouraged by the government and missionaries to wear a calico slip under the dress so that their arms and shoulders were covered). Her hair is done up in the large whorls that imitate the squashblossom, the symbol for purity, and identify her as a girl of marriageable age. Personal investigations into the strange and wonderful culture of the Hopi Indian tribe led Star to try to capture the special quality that the Hopi represent. Their ancestry is directly traceable to the Anasazi, the oldest known inhabitants of the southwest. They still live in villages that cling to the six-hundred-foot-high escarpments of three rocky mesas rising abruptly out of the desert plains of northern Arizona. But it is their world view - deeply spiritual, rich in tradition, close to the natural rhythms of life - that speaks to a felt need in contemporary society, and is what Star kept in mind as she shaped an image that expressed her own felt identification. As with many of Star's sculptures, she puts her figures in an expressive mode that suggests philosophical content beyond the purely pictorial. A simple, subtle gesture - in this case, the young woman's clasped hands - reminds us in some elemental way of hands clasped in prayer, and when combined with a facial expression that exudes tranquillity and a feeling of satisfaction with self and life, the sum is an almost iconographic representation of peace - which is the meaning of the word "Hopi".