Solid Bronze bear claw. No animals were harmed making this - I carved it out of a scrap of plastic I found on the roadside waiting for the 277 bus in London.
They are roughly 8cm long and weigh 140 grams.
I like to think that objects make us feel as well as think - The bear claw has a strong and venerable presence; it excites attraction while simultaneously demanding distance. It is impossible not to feel, viscerally, the presence of big bears, from which we all instinctively recoil. Cast in Bronze, I wanted to emphasizes the interconnections between people, the natural world, and the spiritual realm. It turned out pretty hefty - Next time you're walking down the street at 4 am, don't fist your keys, just told on to the keychain.
Joseph Epes Brown, a student of Native American religions states,
Traditional art forms are vehicles that bear a people's most sacred values . . . . In Native American tradition, . . . art is not the particularly created form, but the inner principle by or from which the outer form comes into being . . . . Neither beauty nor truth can manifest itself, at least in human mode, except through a being [the maker of the object] who has realized the sacred realities within himself or herself. The forms created by these people contain a unique power. Just as the spoken word or name makes present the essence or power of what is named, so too traditional art forms are experienced not just as symbols of some agreed-upon referent. A spiritual essence is present in the form.
Bears figure prominently in the mythology Central Plains, Lakota (Teton Sioux), Cheyenne and Arapaho, amongst other Native American tribes. A bear's claw is frequently used in talismans sacred ornaments and jewellery. A symbol of strength, wisdom, healing and power. When I started to carve this item, it was hard not to make associations with its Indigenous past - It is not my heritage and I tread carefully when it comes to their culture - constantly checking myself on appropriation and misuse of symbolism. But I wanted to acknowledge its history as well as, highlight some current facts.
100% of sales of this item will be donated to 'Murdered and missing indigenous women'
There were 5,646 Native American women entered as missing into the National Crime Information Centre database last year. When it comes to crimes on Native American land, the Department of Justice (DoJ) typically declines to send 30 to 40 per cent of all applications to prosecution. With the federal level of justice seeming a distant hope, grassroots activism is very real.
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