Stephen Schwark

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Sculptor Stephen Schwark. Stephen Schwark grew up in South Australia and began using scrap metal for sculpture at the age of 17. He has hosted many sold out exhibitions in and outside of Australia.
Metallic Sculptor Stephen Schwark Creates World's Largest Naja for Pickens Museum. Schwark says every sculpture is made from recycled metal and gives the metal a new and permeant purpose in life
Sculptor Stephen Schwark. This current piece is titled Pioneer Woman and inspiration was drawn from Bryant Bakers original bronze Pioneer Woman.
Sculptor Stephen Schwark. Schwark draws his inspiration from the perfection of nature and the surroundings they live in.

Every sculpture is made from recycled metal and gives the metal a new and permeant purpose in life

Stephen Schwark grew up in South Australia and began using scrap metal for sculpture at the age of 17. He has hosted many sold out exhibitions in and outside of Australia.

He draws his inspiration from the perfection of nature and the surroundings they live in.

Every sculpture is made from recycled metal and gives the metal a new and permeant purpose in life

This current piece is titled Pioneer Woman and inspiration was drawn from Bryant Bakers original bronze Pioneer Woman. This sculpture is made up from over 1000 pieces of metal and stands 8.5 feet tall.

Metallic Sculptor Stephen Schwark Creates World's Largest Naja for Pickens Museum

In August, 2018 metallic sculptor Stephen Schwark put up a 20 foot Naja around the sign for Doctor Pickens Museum.

The naja is a crescent-shaped piece that is often worn alone as a pendant or as the center piece of a squash blossom necklace in Southwestern Indian jewelry. The naja design shape is thought to have originated from the Moorish and then borrowed from the Spanish that was used as an ornamental design on horse bridle headstalls and as silver decorations on men’s pants. Some najas will have a center decorative piece or stone that is suspended often to freely dangle. Setting stones in the naja pendant began sometime after 1880. Later, with evolving lapidary techniques, more stones were fashioned on the naja and the squash blossom necklace. The squash blossom and naja began to have lapidary styles of inlay, cluster work and needlepoint stone work.

The inverted crescent pendant on squash-blossom necklaces is found in various design forms throughout the world cultures. During the Middle Ages, the Moors rode out of the East and conquered lands in a westerly direction including eight centuries of occupation in Spain. They adopted the symbol as a bridle ornament, and thought the inverted crescent would protect both themselves and their horses from 'the evil eye'.

Most believe the crescent-shaped pendant was adapted from the iron ornaments which adorned the horse bridles of the Spanish Conquistadors. The arrival of the Spaniards in the southwest United States in the late 1500s and early 1600s brought the Navajo into contact Awith these ornaments, which they collected either through trade or capture. When the Spaniards came to South and Central America, they brought that same idea with them for the protection of their horses and of their soldiers. Thus, the Moors taught the Spanish, who taught the Mexicans, who taught the Navajo their belief systems and metallurgy.

By the 1820's, Southern Plains metalworkers had learned the processes of cutting, stamping and cold hammering. Much of this work was produced in German silver. German silver was a different alloy as compared with the Mexican silver, which was often used by the Navajo. Through contact with either the Spanish and/or the various Plains Tribes, the Navajo adopted the symbol of the inverted crescent for their horses. The Naja was put on the horse headstall, the front center band of the horse bridle, and later, the Naja moved into the realm of necklaces.

The Navajo, it is believed, were the first tribe to adopt the design, but by the early 1900s, the art form had spread to neighboring tribes, including the Zuni and the Pueblo. The word “naja” is the Navajo word for “crescent”. “Naja” is the name the Navajo gave to a symbol believed to have originated in the Middle East in ancient times. Like some many symbols, it was created as a talisman for protection, with the Moors affixing it to their horses’ bridles to ward off the evil eye.

Early on, Navajos’ wore the crescent-shaped naja on a rawhide necklace as an ornament of beauty and these pieces also came to symbolize wealth. If one person had such an ornament, others wanted one —if possible, something even better. In this way, an incredibly array of variations on the the naja evolved. Eventually, najahe or naja, became associated with crop fertility and were worn during ceremonies related to the agricultural cycles. It was customary for Medicine men to wear squash blossom pieces as well.

During the initial stages of Navajo silversmithing, the use of turquoise was not abundant. Very few pieces were made with turquoise. As turquoise became more accessible and as silversmithing technology improved, the Navajo quickly employed the use of turquoise into the design of the necklace. Sometimes with simple one stone designs, others with hundreds of stones into one piece. It is this necklace with the simple one stone for each blossom that became a symbol of the Navajo. This design is what was used on the two-cent postage stamp, released in 2004.

According to the Navajo, the symbol of the Naja represents strength and protection and is held in very high esteem by the Navajo as well as other peoples.

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