Monday, December 1, 2008

Traveling Chapungu Sculptures

The closeness between mother and daughter was evident from the moment we happened upon this sculpture at Powell Gardens, Kingsville, Mo., in May 2008. We had also seen these mesmerizing, quietly inspirational and stunning works by artists from Zimbabwe, at Denver Botanic Gardens.

Created by members of the Shona tribe, the name, Chapungu (cha-POONG-goo), pays homage to the Bateleur eagle, a powerful bird that flies up to 300 miles a day, at 30 to 50 mph, and represents a good omen. The international exhibit represents 35 artists and creates a sensation wherever it appears. With its focus on trees, plants, animals, insects, reptiles, birds and as inter-personal relationships, Chapungu sculptures provide a quiet beauty and counterpoint to the colorful natural environments in which they are displayed.

Ranging in height from three to 11 feet and weighing between 500 and 5,000 pounds, each individual sculpture is the product of chisels, hammers, tile cutters, and metal combs, refined with sand paper and enhanced with clear wax that brings out the natural textures and colors of the stone. From natural stone, these artists create a new kind of beauty that endures in memory long after you see it.

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