York, Star Liana
Star Liana York - Distant Thunder (Monumental)
- Medium: Bronze
- Edition: 15
- Size: 74'' x 55''
In the desert, as in the mountains, the weather can be violently unpredictable. Storms can explode out of a serene blue sky in a matter of moments. For this reason, Native People, who spent most of their time out-of-doors, were acutely attuned to the warning signs. Drawing on these facts of nature, Star York has imagined a dramatic vignette of turn-of-the-century Apache life. A young mother out gathering berries with her child has heard the drums of distant thunder. Pursued by a lashing wind and bolts of lightning, she hurries toward shelter. As with all of Star's work, the historical detail is finely researched. The "burden basket" the woman carries over her shoulder is specific to western tribes and is given to young girls at their puberty ceremonies. Note the jewelry the woman is wearing: in addition to the cross, silver-dollar medallion, and glass trade bead necklace, around her neck dangles a wood amulet carved by a medicine man out of lightning-struck wood that is believed to be an entrail of the Wind God. But the detail does not exist for detail's sake - it is integrated into the sculpture in ways that subtly support the original concept. The way the woman is dressed is an example. Rather than putting her in traditional clothes, Star has her wearing the kind of long and loose cotton dress Western Apache women adopted after contact with Europeans. This allows Star to bring more movement to the piece, accenting the woman's flight and the swirling wind, which in turn adds drama and urgency to the action. Finally, look closely at the baby. Intuitively he appears to have recognized his mother's alarm. He seems to know danger is chasing them. And we realize this not only by the wild-eyed expression registered on his face, but by the suggestion that he too has acted in rescuing his doll. In this exciting new work, Star continues her interest in sculpting Indian women and placing them in contexts that allow them to demonstrate strength and character. Though concern is etched in this young Apache mother's brow, she acts swiftly and competently to stay ahead of trouble.