I fell in love with the work of Roxanne Swentzell when I visited New Mexico a number of years ago. Her figures captured my heart. My initial reaction to them was incredulous laughter, so imagine my delight at finding a video about her. It is an amazing portrait. Her voice comes through in an absolutely authentic way, and fits her work superbly. This is a woman who builds a house and raises turkeys as graciously and consciously as she creates her sculptures.
I come from a Pueblo perspective, where the aim is to have a center and have it be balanced. ~Roxanne Swentzell
Even the descriptions of her sculptures echo Swentzell’s strong voice:
This [All Directions Covered] is a storyteller piece. Even though the mother figure is holding her children, their combined effort has all directions covered. Walk around them. There is always one looking your way.
This storeyteller piece [The Next Generation] is about generations. The parent holds up the child helping him to see from a higher advantage point. I believe this is what we do from generation to generation. We use what our past generations learned as stepping stones to grow from. As a species we evolve in this manner.
Roxanne’s biography encapsulates her work this way:
Her first piece of art was a clay dog at the age of four. After formal training and the development of her own style, Swentzell began to create full-length clay figures that represent the complete spectrum of the human spirit. She feels that many people are out of touch with their environment and hopes relating to her expressive characters will help them get back in touch with their surroundings and feelings. Her figures represent a full range of emotions and irrepressible moods. Swentzell focuses a lot on interpretative female portraits attempting to bring back the balance of power between the male and female, inherently recognized in her own culture. Additionally, she increasingly uses a powerful sense of humor to communicate.
Savor the Living Portrait of New Mexico artist Roxanne Swetzell for its phenomenal artwork and wise words. Roxanne Swentzell is a woman of deep integrity, who works “for life,” and makes art “for all of us.”
Order the DVD, Living Portraits: New Mexico Artists & Writers.
This DVD is a series of three, short films. They feature interviews with the artists Roxanne Swentzell, Lonnie Vigil, and Beverly Singer. The films include examples of their work, and footage of places and activities important to their lives. A discussion guide accompanies each film to assist teachers and others in fully considering the issues raised in the films.
SouthwestArt by Dottie Indyke
If Roxanne Swentzell had not found art, there would have been no communicating. As a young girl, she had a speech impediment that made it impossible for anyone to understand a word she was saying, even when her sister helped translate. Out of desperation the 6-year-old made miniature figures in clay, sculpting their faces to convey her stifled feelings. “Those little pieces said a thousand words,” she recalls.
The Heard Museum Also features the wonderful artistry of Rose Simpson, Roxanne’s daughter. Rose is an amazing artist in her own right: a poet, singer, sculptor, and painter. Visit 3D Poet, Rose Bean Simpson.
National Museum of the American Indian See the phenomenal For Life in All Directions.
Published articles about Roxanne.
Are you a river rat? Check this out!