Trading Post Times
In the heat of the sun, on the hard-packed earth, they wait with bright shawls wrapped tightly around
them. Slender and graceful, colorful and beautiful, they wait with eyes downcast in total silence.
At the first thunderous sound of the drum, the red earth bursts into a dazzling display of color and
movement. Feet barely touch the ground as the spinning and twirling shawls move in perfect rhythm
to the heartbeat of the drum. Fabric and fringe move in perfect harmony as the dancers dip and swirl
like butterflies testing the freedom of their newfound wings.
Although each dancer hears the same song, each dance is a unique weaving of color and movement as
they spin and float and touch the earth. The song ebbs and flows, and then too soon, the drum is si-
The dance celebrates the transformation of the weak and helpless cocoon, kept safe by the Creator,
until it can flex its wings and fly away in grace and beauty. A woman is similarly transformed from an
infant to young maiden and then to a woman. All the work of the Creator.
Cliff Fragua’s landmark series,
Shawl Dancers: In Celebration of the Seasons
, was another transformation
that began with a concept and a few rough sketches. Each of Fragua’s
Autumn, and Winter -
grew with some more detailed iterations on the sketch pad as the idea took shape.
Then, from a lump of clay, came the 6-week long transformation into
– the first in the series.
Fragua softened and kneaded the clay, shaped the body, placed the hands and feet just so, carefully
creating each bead, feather, fringe and flower, until finally, the dancer was ready for the next transfor-
is then changed again -- from clay to wax to bronze through a series of molds and a technique
known as the lost wax process. She emerges dressed in bronze, but she isn’t yet a butterfly.
Spring becomes a butterfly only after Fragua considers the bronze perfect, and selects a palate of color
for the first in the series. The color – or patina – is a unique combination of chemicals applied by hand
on heated bronze. The chemicals cause the bronze to oxidize into the final beautiful patina. The en-
tire bronze process takes about eight weeks from creating the mold to finishing the patina on each of
Cliff Fragua’s hallmark is then stamped into the sculpture along with the edition number. This series
will be cast in a very limited edition of 18 for each dancer.
Once completed, these bookshelf-size sculptures will have a life spanning generations and even
centuries, in celebration of the seasons in the form of a
Shawl Dancers Available As Series, Or Single
Shawl Dancers will be available to collectors either as a series, with
each sculpture carrying the same edition number, or as
Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter.
will be limited to 18 copies.
The series will be completed in August, and unveiled at
River Trading Post, Santa Fe on Thursday, August 21.
Advance reservations of an edition number may be made by
contacting any River Trading Post gallery.