by Jammey Huggins
4 3/4” x 3 1/2" (height x diameter)
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Throughout history, the turtle has been regarded as a mythical, symbolical and sacred creature. To each Native American tribe, the turtle might depict something slightly different but with a recurring theme of creation, protection and longevity.
It was believed that the earth itself was born on the Turtle's back. One Woodland story says that the turtle dove into the primeval waters to retrieve mud to make Mother Earth. It became a symbol for Mother Earth and female strength. It was respected for its qualities of nurturing, patience, self-reliance and wisdom.
The turtle's hard shell represents perseverance and protection. Because the turtle carried its home atop its back, it is believed the turtle could brave through very difficult situations. The turtle shell has also been used as a calendar. The 13 large patterned squares in the center of the shell represent the 13 full moons of the year. The 28 smaller squares around the perimeter of the shell represent the 28 days of each lunar month.
Ancient peoples noted the reptiles methodical pace and it's propensity for long life.
To the Lakota, the turtle (ke-ya) spirit brings health and longevity. In the past, a beaded turtle was put on the umbilicus or the crib of new born girls for protection and a long life.
In Zuni legend, turtles bring fertility and longevity. Medicine bags with turtles associated with them ask similar longevity for their owners and are considered by some to have the ability to defy death. Certain turtles can achieve truly awe-inspiring life spans, with some two or three centuries old. This, coupled with the fact that turtles molt and renew, guaranteed them a place as a symbol for immortality.
Jammey is a Southwest artist who was born and raised in West Texas. From her life-long
interest in Western and Native American memorabilia she has seriously devoted herself to
portraying the culture and history of the Southwest. She seeks to recreate the mysticism and
spiritualism of the West in her paintings and sculpture.
Studying, collecting, traveling and exploring the historic ruins of the Southwest and Mexico are sources for her unique creations. Her love of the outdoors has led her to be particularly aware of the many living creatures in her surroundings. Whether at home, with jackrabbits, box turtles, and coyotes, or traveling and observing dolphins, eagles and bison, she realizes that each is individual and possesses unique characteristics. It is the spirit of life and emotion as well as the physical power and sensual form that she tries to capture in each of the animals. The use of the figure is also very prominent in her works. Personality combined with historical accuracy is her goal in creating a life-like sculpture. When viewing her creations, she hopes they will evoke memories and emotions from your own experiences with both wildlife and human beings.
Even though she has been sketching and painting from a very early age, she did not
begin sculpting until 1982. Since that time she has worked with stone, bronze, clay, polymer,
and welded sculpture. Her bronze, "Full Circle", won Best of Show at the annual
American Plains Artists Show displayed in the Ellen Noel Art Museum. All of her bronze sculptures are cast using the lost wax method. In this way, all of the details in the original are retained in the reproduction. Jammey produces her sculpture in limited editions and keeps the edition numbers low in order to retain the integrity of her work.
Jammey holds a degree in art from Texas Tech University, with graduate studies at the
University of Texas of the Permian Basin and Manhattan College. She participates in both
invitational and juried shows throughout the Southwest. Her work can be found in both private
and corporate collections throughout the United States. Commissioned works are also accepted.