"The Embodiment of Prayer" 10/15 - 36"T x 10"D x 12"W Bronze Sculpture by Joe Cajero
"The Embodiment of Prayer My creative energy is often spiritual in nature. Each of my sculptures invariably represent some aspect of praise and appreciation for life’s beauty, ebb and flow. The Embodiment of Prayer is a created image that specifically captures what is a reflection of my spirituality. Since my Pueblo religion restricts the realistic unveiling of ceremonial life, I am constantly challenged by the use of abstract art to represent the sacred.
This masculine form is the expression of my intercessions with God on behalf of mankind and our tumultuous world. His mouth is both elongated and vibrant with energy as he sings for all creation a song that is eternal. His headpiece represents the blue sky of day as well as the majesty of heaven. The figure is made up of three distinct sides that bring meaning to the whole.
The front-left side is divided into four panels, each embodying a scared element of life. The wavelike pattern in the top panel represents not only the life giving properties of water but also the never stagnant flow of meaning and purpose within the individual, moving from generation to generation. Stars of various sizes make up the second panel representing the night sky and the harmonious order of the universe. The third panel celebrates the organic elements of life, earth and all that have been nourished by her. Large and small altar (kiva) steps framing this panel symbolize the prayers of adults and children while the swirling texture within the framework of the kivas is reminiscent of the ancient, hand-finished pattern found on the kiva walls. The fourth, bottom panel has raised circular designs, each of varied size and texture. The circle represents the maturing of the soul while its texture speaks of the soul’s desire for God.
The front-right side of Embodiment is a place of shadows reflecting the trials and tragedies that are common to all people. Examining my own period of depression caused by personal loss, I experienced four periods of growth within the emotional darkness. An altar shrouded in shadow represents each of these four phases and Dragonflies sail beyond the altars free from the darkness. Like nymphs emerging from dark waters to fly on wings in the air, so might man emerge from his own dark moments. We experience this place of beauty by choosing to embrace the freedom of forgiveness, letting go of the past and embracing the present with soaring hope for the future.
The backbone of Embodiment is a stately stalk of corn. This life-sustaining food is central to Pueblo spirituality, being regularly used in prayer and Pueblo ceremony. A magnificent symbol of renewal and regeneration, corn is ever faithful to grow toward the sun and sway joyfully with the wind.
May your life be so blessed that you too might dance in rhythm with the Creator."
-Joe Cajero Jr.
True West, Santa Fe Presents: Joe Cajero
Joe Cajero, Jr. was born in 1970 in Santa Fe, New Mexico and raised in the Pueblo of Jemez. He is a descendant of a long line of Pueblo artists, including his father, a painter, and his mother, Esther, a potter. As a child, Cajero would often accompany her to Indian art shows throughout the Southwest.
Cajero knew early on he would be an artist and assumed he would follow in the lines of his father and become a painter. At fifteen years of age, while sitting in his mother's shop one day, she convinced him to take a piece of clay and try to create. That turned out to be a small bear figure. That first figure sold the same day before it had even dried. His mother encouraged him to continue work in clay. Cajero made several more bear figures and sold them. Eventually those bears began to stand upright and take on human characteristics. Hands emerged from claws and faces began to form. He knew then he had graduated to the next level.
In 1990, this next level took him to the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe after high school, where he studied two-dimensional art with a few classes in traditional pottery making. His mentor and cousin, Felix Vigil, was teaching there at the time and provided the young artist with priceless insight; "He taught me how to look and where to look inside myself, so that I didn't have to draw from other artists in order to find inspiration. I admire the work of other artists, but I look only to myself to create." Although Cajero continues to make the smiling koshare figures he is internationally known for, he is not one to rest on his laurels. He constantly strives to satisfy his need for fresh ideas and subject matter by challenging himself to try new techniques and imagery.
Cajero enjoys working with commercial clay and traditional Jemez clays, as well as, the process of selecting the patinas which are used in the finish of bronze sculptures. This has led to the opening of new creative doors for the artist. "It seems I've been developing my skills in clay to lead me to work in bronze, and working with bronze has enhanced my skills with natural clay." He is also creating a line of jewelry inspired by images taken from his bronze sculptures. He is excited about the creative possibilities that each medium has to offer.
2014 Living Treasures Award - Native Treasures - Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe, New Mexico
2013 Santa Fe Indian Market, First Place, Bronze Sculpture
2009 Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market, 1st Place, Bronze Sculpture
"The Embodiment of Prayer" 10/15 - 36"H x 10"D x 12"W Bronze by Joe Cajero
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