"Ke-Wa Corn Maiden"
"Ke-Wa Corn Maiden"
by Scott Rogers
Sculpture: 27 x 13 x 9 (height x depth x depth)
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On August 4, 2001, I witnessed a Ke-Wa Indian corn dance at the Santo Domingo Pueblo, south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’ve never been inspired to sculpt a piece so fast in my life. By August 21st the piece was finished.
Everyone who saw the dance was warned against photographing, video taping, sketching, painting or reproducing the dancers ‘on location’. I could only stand in awe and marvel while mentally memorizing their ceremonial dress. Fortunately, after sculpting this piece, and Indian, who was a corn dancer and a maker of ceremonial dress saw it and critiqued it for accuracy. Her desire was for me to represent her people as accurately as possible.
—The dominating feature for the women of the Corn Dance is the unique headdress that adorns all of their heads. It fastens to a
piece of tie string that is secured under the neck and to the hair in back. Feathers plume off of the headdress from the sides.
—All of the dresses are black.
—Under each dress the women wear a white tunic garment that appears to drape off the shoulder to mid-calf.
—Evergreen boughs are held in each hand.
—Turquoise and Shell and necklaces are worn around the neck.
—The moccasins are cream white (many of the women dance barefoot).
—A sash is fastened around the waist.
—Along the bottom of the dresses and the tunic under garment is a woven pattern of colored design.
—The women dance in a slow rhythmic pace. Usually not looking up but eyes downward.
Since attending this dance, I have learned that the participants in the Corn Dance are in prayer as they dance.
Standing in silence, I seemed to travel backing time as I watched hundreds of these people (men, women and children) dance as their people have danced for centuries. I have stood watching this dance when it started to rain. With water, to 6 inches deep, the dance continued. I was welcomed into the home of every Indian I met. I feel both fortunate and privileged to have witnessed this event.
It seems like only yesterday that I bought a bronze from my uncle, Grant Speed. My love affair with bronze had begun. Six months later (in October of ’90) I came home from work, looked at that bronze and said, “I can do that”. I sought and continue to seek counsel at the hands of master teachers (i.e. studied with Fritz White CA, Stanley Bleifeld, Herb Mignery CA, Mehl Lawson CA and Grant Speed CA).
My desire is to use art as a vehicle to inspire mankind to see the beauty of life. Artists’ are prone to leave emotional fingerprints all over their work; hence, what you’ll be seeing, in a way are self-portraits. I love how shape, line and form communicate. Every line has a spirit and speaks volumes. Put a lump of clay in my hands and a short while later you’ll know exactly how I feel and physically see my soul. I am finding that the key to life is to develop eyes to see what is really ‘there’.
I love what I do. The feelings I portray about the ‘Old West’ I’ve had all my life. I remember fondly the hours spent as a youth reading of renegades, rebels, rogues, outlaws, wild men and horses, ferocity, passion, power, cunning, independence, honor, loneliness, fear, rage, courage and freedom. These words worked their way into my soul and now find expression through my fingers in clay. The ‘West’ was about men and women who had courage, who were part of something bigger than themselves. I find great pleasure in doing these people justice by creating a fair portrayal of their characters.
When beginning a piece, the first thing I do is isolate an emotion I know intimately. An emotion that pulls at my heart, one that makes me hold my breath, an emotion so strong it becomes overwhelming and is physically draining to experience. If the emotion doesn’t command my rapt attention it is quickly dismissed. In creating “a moment” I do it in such a way that you (the viewer) have no choice but to play an active part and put yourself in the scene as the character depicted or as a first hand witness.
I sculpt feelings and not reality. In fact, to me the words sculpture and feelings are synonymous. I love it when someone says, after viewing one of my pieces, “I can feel the bullet hitting him”; “I feel like I’m on the back of the bucking horse” or “I can hear the roar of the stampede”.
I know art uplifts the spirit, it makes one want to be better, to feel good about themselves and their fellow man, to reach out for that which is good in life. It’s my wish that you experience some of what I feel through my art.