Big Bear

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Object Name: 
Big Bear
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 83 cm, W: 64 cm, D: 86.7 cm
On Display
Credit Line: 
Gift of the Ben W. Heineman, Sr. Family
Web Description: 
Sherry Markovitz began making paintings and large-scale sculpture with beads in the early 1980s, and she is internationally known for her mixed-media animal heads. Her inspiration comes from ethnic, folk, tribal, and Native American traditions, rather than from contemporary figural or abstract art. Big Bear may be appreciated more as a symbolic power object than as a hunting trophy. The animal head, which is made of a taxidermy form that Markovitz further molded with papier-mâché, is thickly encrusted with colorful and eye-catching materials, such as buttons, shells, sequins, artificial fruit, and tufts of fur, in addition to beads in a range of colors. In many cultures, an object gains power from the accumulation of materials that adorn it. These may be rare or treasured materials—or, in the case of Big Bear, materials that have special meaning for the artist. “The ornamented animal trophy heads of deer, elk and moose and wild cats . . . are beautiful images of rebirth, the death somewhat masked by their beauty,” Markovitz says. “They are also a feminization of the traditionally male role as hunter, which has for centuries carried an unspoken taboo for women.” Markovitz’s trophy heads reflect personal emotional states, but viewers also see references to environmentalism, feminism, and animal rights.
Heineman, Ben W. Sr. Family, Source
Primary Description: 
Sculpture, "Big Bear". Transparent to opaque glass beads, mixed media; applied, strung; assembled. Head, neck and shoulders of bear (like trophy). Surface covered with strings of beads, found objects, fur, fabric.
Corning Museum of Glass 2013-05-18 through 2014-01-05
For 30,000 years, mankind has crafted beads from natural materials. With the discovery of glassmaking in the second millennium B.C., glass began to be used for this same purpose. Glass beads are universal. They have been produced throughout the 35 centuries of glass manufacturing, and by nearly every culture in the world. The glass beads and beaded objects on view in this exhibition are arranged thematically, comparing the manner in which diverse cultures have utilized beads, frequently for the same purposes, but sometimes for unique reasons. These themes explore how glass beads adorn the body and our possessions; how they convey messages about power and wealth, and identify the stages of human life; how they serve ritual purposes, as well as decorate clothing and objects used in rituals; and how they have been employed across the centuries as a means of exchange, both commercial and cultural. Through the centuries, beads have been made using a variety of processes. Understanding how beads were made has allowed scholars to follow the transmission of beads and beadmaking techniques across the globe. Across time and around the world, glass beads have become a common element of mankind. Through their manufacture and function, they are one of the strings that bind humanity together. “Life on a String” celebrates this common bond while also revealing the distinctiveness of different societies through their use of glass beads to celebrate their unique cultural heritage.
Form and Figure: New Works by Sherry Markovitz
Monique Knowlton Gallery
2015 Calendar Treasures from the Corning Museum of Glass (2015) illustrated, title leaf, January; BIB# 142518
Treasures from The Corning Museum of Glass (2014-12) illustrated, Cover, January;
Glass Beads: Selections from The Corning Museum of Glass (2013) illustrated, pp. 76-77, no. 47; BIB# 134720
Contemporary Glass Sculptures and Panels: Selections from the Corning Museum of Glass (2008) illustrated, p. 35, 160-161 (fig. 68, plate 56); BIB# 107478
Things That Make You Say "Oooooooh!" (1999-04) illustrated, p. 11;
Recent Important Acquisitions, 40 (1998) illustrated, pp. 176-177, #72; BIB# AI40492
An Eye For Glass (1998) illustrated, front page; pp. 8c, 12c; BIB# AI77557