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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 1, 2001 - Issue 50


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A Lesson for Students

photo by Ed Blochowiak/SNS

Sen. Kelly Haney, D-Seminole, revealed the secrets behind the statues ... not statutes ... he makes as he addressed Jefferson Elementary School students Monday morning.

The occasion was Jefferson's Native American Heritage Day celebration.

Haney, a world-renowned artist/sculptor of Seminole Indian heritage, is nearing completion of "The Guardian," a 17-foot, 5,000-pound bronze of an Indian that will top the new State Capitol dome.

"We're going to put it on the State Capitol the second weekend in June," Haney said. "Right now, I am giving a personal invitation for you and your parents to come to the State Capitol... and watch us put this huge sculpture on top," Haney told the students.

Turning to the 2-foot tall model of "The Guardian" he had brought along, Haney began his explanation of the creation process. "Before I put the clay on, I do a stick figure that's made up of metal rods. Then I start putting clay around it and start putting muscles on it," he said.

Haney revealed that inside the feather atop the Guardian model's spear is a paper clip.

"A paper clip is about the size of the feather," he explained. "I put the clay around the paper clip, and I just stuck it down in his head."

Clay for the model's shield was sized and shaped using a can of food from his wife's kitchen cabinet.

The process for producing a sculpture from a model once required about a year for Haney. With "The Guardian," the largest statue he has sculpted, it is down to five months.

To shorten the process he shoot photos of the model from every conceivable angle. They are sent to a company in California, which interpolates the dimensions to the size of the finished sculpture.

"It comes back to me in big, old boxes of Styrofoam," Haney said. He then sculpts clay one-quarter to one-half inch thick on the Styrofoam pattern.

Once the clay sculpture is finished, Haney will "chop it up into about 30 different pieces, and then I cast them separately." Once they have been cast in bronze, Haney will weld them back together.

During a question-and-answer session with the students, Haney revealed that he began sculpting at age five ­ a half-foot tall Abraham Lincoln. "I don't know why I thought of him, when I did it. And, I painted it," he said.

Asked if he only makes sculptures of Indians, Haney replied, "I went to school for art. So, I can draw. I can sculpt. I can do most anything except, for some reason, I can't draw a giraffe."

One student wanted to know how Haney gets the clay to retain its shape, once it has been sculpted. "The clay that I use is an artist's clay, called plastellina," he explained. "The clay I used a year ago is still moist; it's still in shape. It's hard enough to keep its form but it also does not lose its moistness."

Sculpting a statue as large as "The Guardian" fulfills a long-held goal for Haney. "Thirty years ago, I was in Italy. I saw a sculpture by a great, great sculptor by the name of Michelangelo."

Haney said he wanted to, someday, produce a sculpture larger than the 15-foot-tall David. "As I walked away from the sculpture, I decided I was going to make one bigger than 15 feet tall," he told the children. "I have now done that."

That goal met, it's on to the next level for Haney. "I am working on trying to get someone to buy a 25-to-30-foot sculpture," he said.

"The Guardian" will be moved from a Norman foundry to the State Capitol grounds via a flatbed truck in early June.

"You can come and touch it and take pictures," Haney said. At a point during Red Earth weekend, when the weather is cooperative, a huge crane will lift the sculpture atop the dome.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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