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Friday Feature: Earth Become Emergence, Stone Made Spirit

Mak Swazo Hinds Corn Maiden Sculptures

It is pouring.

The spirits have done their work, it seems: Despite the weather service’s dismissive forecast of 20%, we are now in the throes of a major storm. In the garden, new corn shoots rising bravely from dry and dusty earth will be glad for the water, if feeling a little battered by the end of it all.

But that is summer in this place — not so much the proverbial feast or famine as it is a question of flood or drought. We have had much of the latter already this summer; perhaps our monsoon season has finally decided to manifest, rather than skirting around us on all sides.

Large Sandstone Corn Maiden

This is the season of ceremony and celebration, when some travel the powwow circuit, while others remain at home to participate in feast days and corn dances. And it’s the season of the Corn Maidens and their fellow spirit beings, those who bring the rains and nurture crops and help to ensure an abundant harvest before the snow flies.

It’s a perfect time to feature a few works in a series by Mark Swazo-Hinds, Wings’s old friend and fellow artist from Tesuque Pueblo. Mark’s specialty is sculpture — highly stylized works that depend on bold strokes and clean lines, summoning spirit from bare form and shape. And four of those works are a related series of equally stylized spirits.

Small Sandstone Corn Maiden Orange

In truth, they could represent any of a number of such beings, but I have always regarded them as exemplars of the Corn Maidens, their bangs and jewelry and dress giving them, to my mind, a distinctly feminine character. Instead of the usual heavy tablita, Mark gives his beings feather headdresses in colors as brilliant as Indian corn. In our current inventory are four of varying sizes and slightly different shapes and detail. From their description in the Other Artists:  Sculpture gallery here on the site:

Small Sandstone Corn Maiden Multi-Colored

Master carver Mark Swazo-Hinds (Tesuque Pueblo) coaxes stylized Corn Maidens from plain smooth blocks of stone.  Each is hand-carved from very pale, very fine pink sandstone, almost a translucent peach in color.  With surfaces so smooth you can hardly keep from touching them, they feel a bit like large worry stones.  In lieu of the traditional tablita headdress, each wears Mark’s trademark bundle of brilliantly-hued macaw feathers. All dimensions are approximate:  The two smaller ones are in the 3″-4″ high range; the largest is about 6″; the one in the back on the far right is about 5″ high, and is narrower — almost an inverted teardrop shape (shown below).

Pink sandstone; macaw feather bundles
Far left: $275 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Middle: $425 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Far right: $275 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Back: $325 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Weight requires special handling; extra shipping charges apply

Medium Sandstone Corn Maiden

Each has its own unique identity; each functions as part of a larger whole, a series of solid beings coaxed out of the very earth their more ephemeral counterparts nurture. They are earth become emergence, stone made spirit.

And now, as the rain gives way to cool air beneath gray skies now dry again, our own corn stands just a little taller, a little greener, and the first row of squash seedlings have broken through the soil.

These are the early avatars of abundance.

~ Aji








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