The Highlight of the Month program at The Indian Craft Shop focuses on a particular craft area, region or artist family/group. Our aim is to illustrate the diversity of tribal groups and the wide variety of artistic expressions and traditions in the country today.
Zuni fetish carver Alan Lynn Lewis is best known for his elegantly graceful cottonwood carvings of maidens. After years of working in construction and as a railroad worker, he wanted to do something different, so around 1990, Alan taught himself to carve
Like many Native artists, Alan grew up surrounded by art and artists. His mother was well known for her beaded dolls depicting olla maidens. His brother, Robert, specialized in carving realistic people out of cottonwood.
Inspired by their work, Alan combined their styles into his own unique one. Like his brother, he enjoys carving figures of people. Like his mother, he likes to carve olla maidens. Today his maidens, ranging in size from three to twelve inches, are prized.
His maidens are smooth and flowing, with ornamentation burned into the wood. Some wear tablitas, the rectangular headdresses with stepped edges on their heads. Others carry ollas – water jars – on their heads. Some maidens hold bowls or baskets of corn, or may be standing next to a horno, the traditional mud covered ovens of the pueblos
Alan’s simple shapes are also seen in the animals he carves. He works in stone and antler, carving bears, buffaloes, dragonflies, frogs and turtles. Usually large, his animals have simple shapes and smooth edges that take advantage of the natural stone. His buffaloes are usually walking. His frogs and dragonflies have an almost whimsical quality.
©The Indian Craft Shop 2001