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Michael A. Naranjo, The Dancer

On view in the East Garden

sculpture garden 2020

Michael A. Naranjo
Tewa – Santa Clara Pueblo
born 1944 Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico; lives Santa Clara Pueblo
The Dancer
Albuquerque Museum, museum purchase, 1987 General Obligation Bonds

For an immobile bronze statue, The Dancer evokes a strong sense of motion as the figure is seen in mid-movement twisting around with his hair swinging in front of his body. He is dressed for traditional Native American dance with feathered bustles and bells down both legs. The whistle held in his right hand represents whistles used to signal drummers.

Michael Naranjo grew up in Santa Clara Pueblo modeling small animals out of the clay his mother used for her pottery. In 1968 at the age of 22, while serving in the Vietnam War, Naranjo was struck by a grenade that blinded him and permanently maimed his right hand. In the hospital, he asked for some modeling clay and began creating small figures using only his left hand, initiating his career as a sculptor. His sculptures often depict his memories from his childhood: native dances, eagles and buffalo, women carrying water as well as mythical creatures such as mermaids and centaurs. Naranjo has sculpted using no tools for over 40 years, creating dark patina and bold forms that viewers are encouraged to touch and experience through an alternative way of seeing.