Award-winning sculptor Mark A. Fischer of the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin, Turtle Clan, will discuss and sell his contemporary copper sculptures, steeped in traditional Iroquois imagery, at a trunk show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 9, at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston, Illinois.
The highlight of the weekend event will be Fischer’s presentation on “Symbolism in Native American Art” at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 9. He’ll interpret Native American symbols seen in his own sculptures and in pieces on view in the Mitchell Museum’s “Another View of American Indian Fine Art” exhibit, which focuses on 20th and 21st century developments and trends. Admission to the talk is $12 per person, $10 for Mitchell Museum members, in addition to museum admission.
“My designs celebrate nature, gender, and Native art and culture, drawing inspiration from ancient Woodland petroglyphs and pictographs,” Fischer said, in a musem press release. “Each copper sculpture is hand cut, welded with silver solder, and given a patina finish to enhance the aging process.”
He has won first-place awards at the Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico, the Art Fair Off the Square in Madison, Wisconsin, and the Eiteljorg Museum’s Indian Market in Indianapolis. His work has been purchased by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and featured in Native Peoples magazine.
Fischer says he will be showing storytelling copper sculptures at the Mitchell Museum that range in price from about $35 for four-inch diameter turtles bearing Oneida symbols to around $2,500 for elaborate wall-hung pieces.
Visitors will see turtle necklace pendants of polished copper, sculptures suitable for indoor and outdoor display, and outdoor seating pieces including a love seat with an Iroquois floral design, among other items.
Some of Fischer’s tabletop sculptures are adorned with hand-stitched buckskin and antique European trade beads.
One of his award-winning designs is a dignified, human-like turtle standing upright and holding a Native talking stick in one hand and a book in another, representing Native and European teaching traditions.
A resident of suburban Milwaukee and a past president of the Indian Community School of Milwaukee, Fischer sees his sculpture as a medium for communicating Oneida teachings.
Fischer, whose family includes generations of blacksmiths, says he was attracted to copper because of its roots in ancient upper Great lakes Native cultures. Indigenous peoples mined local copper and fashioned it into functional and decorative items for thousands of years.
The sculptor’s website is turtleclanart.com.
The independent, nonprofit Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is located at 3001 Central St., Evanston. Museum admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children (ages 1- 17), students (with ID), teachers (with ID), and seniors (age 65+). Museum admission is free for Mitchell Museum members and tribal members. Museum admission is also free for active-duty military personnel and their families through September 1 in conjunction with the national Blue Star Museums program.