Artist Statement - Famous Sculpture of Native Americans by Sculptor Marie Barbera

Marie Barbera Artist Statement

I cannot identify why I felt so strongly about Native American culture but I did not create my art until discovering the world of the Native American Nations. At first I felt it was not my place to appropriate Native American subjects. This was not my own cultural heritage. At first I experimented with pastoral landscape but found this did not hold my interest. I relented to my fascination with the subject of native women and the influence of my appreciation for the work of Francisco Zuniga.

"I relented to my fascination with the subject of native women..."

Indiginous Americans are peoples of the earth and I feel I have developed a dialogue with them as I recreate their stories from their history into clay and into bronze. I develop my ideas from researching books. Something I read will intrigue me and I'll seek out additional information and become so involved in that story that I will integrate it to my own rememberence. These stories allow me to relate to you my works.

" ...stories allow me to relate to you my works."

In the 1960's I produced the first work of this Native thematic in the form of large scale watercolors reminiscent of Zuniga's sculptures of that same period. I love Zuniga's figures with large hands and feet, which suggest strength to me. I studied his drawings and sculptures in books and from examples of actual work from the San Diego Museum of Art Collection. I resisted the transition to a three dimensional medium for nearly twenty years and am sorry I waited so long. Clay is a wonderful medium that facilitates the full expression of my ideas.

I learned about the symbolism of the shield in Thomas E. Mails' book Mystic Warriors of the Plains.

In my "The Shield of the Crow," I portrayed the Crow tradition of telling their history and acknowledging their honors by adding feathers to shields and headdresses that signified those events.

"They Dance the Dance, They Chant the Chant," is a work close to my heart. Before the tragedy of Wounded Knee in 1890, the Arapahos believed that if they danced the Ghost Dance and wore their protective shirts, they would be saved from the white man's bullets and their fallen ancestors would return to earth. Rather than depicting the final outcome of the massacre, the frozen bodies in the snow, I commemorated Wounded Knee with a trio of warriors dancing and chanting as they envisioned the return of the Old World that had been lost.

"Women are seminal in my work as they were in my own life ..."

Women are seminal in my work as they were in my own life experience of raising two daughters. "The Plains," depicts a mother and her children during the 1870's when the Cheyenne were herded into reservations and forced to adopt the ways of the white people. We could not take away their love of the family. In many cases it was the family pride that made survival possible. I used my own grandson's face as the model for the sleeping child on her shoulder.

"The Sunrise Ceremony is similar to the Christian concept of Conformation."

"Changing Woman," portrays the Apache rite of passage from child to woman. The Sunrise Ceremony is similar to the Christian concept of Conformation. The exhausting weeklong ritual requires the girl to dance from morning until night around the cane of life, which was moved farther and farther from her.

In my work I choose to represent moments that leads up to or follows the ritual act rather than the sacred moment. Native Americans frown upon divulging sacred activities, so in "Sundance" I show the High Priest painting the legs of a young man before ordaining him into manhood.

This is my work. I hope it touches you as it moves me. It is my addiction to create it. If I did anything else, I would be cheating myself. Second to my family, art is my life. And the histories of Native Americans is what I hope to leave for generations to come.

M. Barbera - 1999

Marie Barbera fine limited edition bronze sculpture

Marie Barbera creates wonderful limited edition bronze sculpture. Marie Barbera is one of the world's foremost and famous sculptors of Native American Indians. Marie Barbera is known for her figurative, wildlife and equine sculpture. She has created well over 100 pieces of limited edition bronze sculpture. Her art and sculpture career spans decades.