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American Indian sculpture garden opens

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WASHINGTON - Surrounded by six stories on three sides, the American Indian Sculpture Garden is an artistic oasis in a building with a history of art. On Sept. 19, the Department of the Interior opened the outdoor sculpture garden.

The garden is co-sponsored by the Indian Craft Shop, which has been inside Interior's headquarters since 1938. The shop offers Indian arts and crafts from over 45 tribal areas across the U.S.

Four artists are currently exhibiting in the garden. They include Cliff Fragua, Jemez Pueblo, Rollie Granbois, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Kathy Whitman "Elk Woman", Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Tribes, and Mark Fischer, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin.

Cliff Fragua's works range from small tabletop sculptures to larger-than-life works. His figures are reminiscent of the landscape of the Southwest - rolling hills, stepped mesas and towering cliffs. Cliff uses marble, alabaster and steatite for his stone sculptures.

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Cliff contributed two marble sculptures of Indian women, Heart Locket and Morning Star.

Rollie A. Grandbois currently has two works in the garden. They are two majestic eagles, Blessing for the Future, in Texas limestone with gold leaf and Flying Through the Abstract, in Colorado marble.

"Many of my themes incorporate a stylized eagle, which is usually carved with the mouth open, singing a song of freedom or carrying our prayers to the Creator," says Rollie.

Mark Fischer's sculptures are created from copper, as were many of the decorative and functional items from Wisconsin area tribes. Each sculpture is given an Oneida (Iroquois) name and story, poem, prayer or cultural statement.

Kathy Whitman "Elk Woman" works in welded steel. Her brightly colored steel cutouts of butterflies, dragonflies and flowers liven up the garden. Her Spiritual Warrior gives all a chance to pause and think about what it means to be a warrior on a spiritual journey.