In the way of the Hopi, the Grandmother plays a most important role in the society. Women at Hopi own the home and the seeds that are planted each year. The Grandmother awaits patiently for her grandchildren to come forth. She is the one who will often name the children, giving the child their Hopi name, at which time the child will be given the first of the four corns that they will receive in life. The baby will be taken to greet the sun on the twentieth day and will be given a name with their first ear of red corn, which is the naming corn. The Grandmother leads in wisdom and knowledge. She is the Matriarch of the family.
Kim Obrzut’s bronze sculptures of Hopi women have no eyes, noses, mouths, or ears. Yet they effectively represent the female form with stomachs exuding a rotund feminity, graceful coverings draped over their shoulders, and beads or Heishi shells hanging off their neck. She creates about five pieces a year. She first creates the piece in clay, and the casters then go to work. The colors on the bronze come from the metal finishes that, when melded with heat and chemicals, leave the patina of blues, browns, greens, and even reds.
She sculpts what she knows best, and by her own account that is women. “That’s the way of my culture — the strength and wisdom of being matriarchal. We work together to celebrate our blessings, and we share our world. The women own the home. We own the seeds that are planted. We trace the family line through our mothers. With this, our lineage continues throughout time. The women play a very important role.” She tries to exemplify these matriarchal values through her work. “My art is a teaching tool. Hopi tradition isn’t written; it’s oral. Through my work, I try to teach people that this is why things are.
“While my work is very contemporary, it is also steeped in spiritual and symbolic content.”
Adapted from an article in Cowboys and Indians by Emily Sachar and from material from the artist.
Condition: Excellent – new.
Provenance: Purchased directly from the artist at the Phippen Museum.