Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Road to Indian Market 2010: Charlene Holy Bear Lakota Sioux 'Best of Class' Doll Maker

As SWAIA Indian Market approaches each year, you find that everyone is engrossed in preparation for whatever they may be working on, and inevitably, things go by the wayside.  Take my schedule, for instance. I was working hard, commuting to Santa Fe and trying to keep up with my "The Road to Indian Market 2010" series.  While it wasn't nearly as stressful to put together as my "Heard @ The Heard 2010" series (, I found the hours in the day dwindling away just prior to Market. 

A few weeks before, I had made plans to meet with Standing Rock Lakota Sioux doll maker Charlene Holy Bear at her hotel to watch her work putting the final touches on her pieces and interview her about the specific "road" she took to Indian Market this year.  Unfortunately, bad timing got in the way, so we agreed that we would meet up at her booth during the weekend.   Not surprisingly, Holy Bear, who has been participating in Indian Market as an adult for the last several years, won "Best in Class" in the Diverse Art category this year. This meant that her submission would be on display at the Friday night SWAIA preview event at the Santa Fe Convention Center.  The evening was full of magic and Holy Bear gave me the opportunity to chat briefly with her while fresh off of her win. 

Holy Bear's work, which generally incorporates Lakota beadwork designs, quillwork, and parfleche designs, are handmade and inspired by Plains traditional dolls, which were flat and more utilitarian--they were used to teach girls about their roles in life.  Holy Bear's dolls are three-dimensional and honor the doll-making tradition with beauty and more of a contemporary style with art replacing the idea of utility. Her winning piece, for instance, utlizes a beaded Oriental-style fan in the dancer's hand, which is a unique and nontraditional touch.  The dancer's body is made from clay, which alone took an entire year to create. It then took an additional two years to design the clothing and add the beadwork.

The following interview is a combination of video shot on Friday evening as well as during the weekend.  Get to know Charlene Holy Bear HERE:


JanieK said...

Charlene is such an extraordinary talent! Her dolls have such expression, grace, and her ability to convey movement in in inanimate object is amazing...they come to life! Congratulations on a big win with such tough competition!

Cassandra Bromfield's Blogs said...

I am so impressed with Charlene's Dolls. The attention to detail is amazing and her work shows the beauty, tradition, and power of these American Women.