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2013 Master of the Southwest Doug Hyde - Bronze sculptor

Author: Roberta Landman
Issue: March, 2013, Page 124
Photo by Chris Loomis

Sculptor Doug Hyde is pictured in his studio, among works in progress.

Doug Hyde brings stories of Native American tribes to life with historically accurate stone and bronze sculptures

Sculptor Doug Hyde touches a tall slab of marble in his Dewey, Arizona, studio and smiles. He sees beyond its raw surface to the form of a young Native American woman who, he says, “will be dressed in her finest stuff.” He will craft her using power tools, for they lend amazing speed to his art-making.

An award-winning artist of national and international acclaim, Hyde is of Nez Perce, Chippewa and Assiniboine heritage. His stone and bronze figural and wildlife-themed sculpture give visual voice to stories of his own ancestors and those of other American Indian tribes. While he bases much of his work on meticulous research and meeting with members of American Indian nations, a goodly portion of his art is inspired by his own life experience. The Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest grew up on the Nez Perce Indian reservation in Idaho, where he “lived off the land, fishing, hunting, bringing home game.”

As a boy, he heard his grandfather and other elders recite the tribe’s oral history and legends—tales often marked with animal imagery and moral lessons. Hyde says he could see the action in his mind’s eye. “And that is what went into the stone.” But that would come later.

Intertribal Greeting, Bronze Edition of 35, 17" x 30" x 6.5"
Fifty years ago, Hyde entered Santa Fe’s Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) at the age of 17. There, amid talented students from other reservations, he was taught by several well-known Native American artists, among them famed sculptor Allan Houser.

Hyde, originally slated to study painting, pressed his wary teachers to let him try sculpting. Not long after, he says, without bragging, “The teachers were buying my work.” Years later, Hyde would be invited to teach at IAIA, which he did for a while before turning to art full time and moving to Prescott, Arizona.

Hyde has earned kudos of the highest order, including being named a Fellow of the National Sculpture Society. Two of his sculptures of respected Indian chiefs are at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. His bronze Tribute to Code Talkers is a Phoenix landmark that honors Navajo Marines, whose language, unintelligible to the enemy, saved lives during World War II.

A large sculpture, Intertribal Greeting, stands outside Phoenix’s Heard Museum. Depicting women of various tribes in their distinctive dress, “It is a signature piece,” notes Diana Pardue, Heard curator of collections. Of Hyde, she says, “He is certainly one of the leading sculptors in the field of Native American art.” Art expert Mark Sublette places Hyde at the top of his field. Sublette’s Tucson gallery carries a maquette of Intertribal Greeting, as well as several other pieces. “I love the fact that he can bring humanity to his pieces,” he says of Hyde.

Santa Clara Wedding Vase, Bronze
Edition of 15, 21" x 14" x 7"
One such sculpture, The Exodus, is a work in progress and will stand 9 ½-feet-high, Hyde notes. Based on tragic events of 1875, it portrays an old man bearing his sick wife in a burden basket during a forced 180-mile march of Yavapais and Apaches away from their Arizona lands. “He carried her all the way,” Hyde says with emotion.

The sculptor prides himself on creating art that is as historically accurate as possible, and, with countless ideas in mind, plans to ply his craft in his studio for a long time to come. “I have fun,” he remarks. “That’s what will keep me young.”

Hear Me Oh My Chiefs, Bronze Edition of 21, 21.5" x 10" x 6", courtesy of Mark Sublette
Medicine Man Gallery, Tucson

Zuni Deer Pot, Bronze Edition
of 15, 11" x 12.5" x 12.5"
Zia Pot, Bronze Edition of 15,
16" x 16" x 16"

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: Posing for Taos Painter, Bronze Edition of 35, 13.5" x 8" x 8" • Hopi Butterfly Pot, Bronze Edition of 15, 5" x 10" x 10", Sold-Out Edition • Indian Market, Bronze Edition of 35, 10.5" x 7.5" x 7.5" • Pueblo Pottery Collection, Bronze Set of 5 Miniature Bronze Pots, Unlimited Edition
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