Vision Quest of the Sundance
VISION QUEST OF THE SUNDANCE (2000)
Bronze, 32’’ x 15’’ x 15’’
Because hardship and the unexpected were so much a part of their lives, Plains Indians believed that through personal suffering, they would receive supernatural power in their favor. Suffering and testing were also forms of thanksgiving, because they proved, without doubt, their sincerity and gratitude to the Great Spirit for responding to their pleas. Sioux warriors believed that by suffering at the pole at the center of their sun lodge, they took upon themselves much of the agony of their people. As a sacred Native American ceremonial dance, the sun dance required exhaustive preparation, fasting, and self-mutilation. The sculpture portrays a sun dance warrior at the culmination of the ritual. Having completed his fasting and chanting, he is suspended by sticks that pierce his chest. He wears the sacred sage wreaths, and with his head thrust back, blows the eagle bone whistle. The sound of the whistle replicates an eagle’s cry, which delivers the warrior’s plea to the Great Spirit above. Beneath him, the buffalo skulls are bound to his legs in order to hasten the tearing free of his flesh. The sun and the skulls further symbolize the mystery of the Great Spirit.
I work with live models whenever possible, which allows me to respond and interact with my subject. For example, while sculpting Vision Quest of the Sundance, I constructed a hoist and harness to suspend a live model from the ceiling of my studio. This allowed me to authentically represent the tension that the fatigued warrior felt in his muscles from being suspended.