Last year sculptor Star Liana York focused her work on portraying animals and their role as spiritual liaisons. For her new show “Bridging Worlds-Human, Animal, Divine,” which opens at Sorrel Sky Gallery on July 7, York primarily turns toward people-medicine men, shamans and priests-who serve as a bridge to the spiritual.
“People from cultures all over the world look to medicine men, shamans and priests at times of crisis,” says York, who lives and works on a ranch near Abiquiu, New Mexico.
The centerpiece of York’s show is “Prayer Chant,” a larger-than-life-size bronze sculpture of an Oglala Sioux medicine man in a sitting pose. The inspiration for the piece, York explains, was a painting of a medicine man she saw 20 years ago.
“I had a strong gut reaction to the image in the painting and did some research about tribal medicine men,” she adds. “It took a while for me to know what kind of piece I wanted to create.”
York’s creative process begins with an idea and evolves over time. “I feel like I’m tapping into the collective consciousness when I work,” she says. “I try not to let my mind get too much in the way of the work. Although I know the kind of structure the face I’m sculpting should have, for example, I never know what the face will look like until it’s done.”
The daughter of a ballerina and a woodworker who spent her early life in Maryland, York attended the University of Maryland, the Institute of Art in Baltimore and the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. She moved to New Mexico in 1985 and immediately fell in love with the Southwest’s creatures and cultures.