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by Halley Sanford March 14, 2021 2 min read 1 Comment

There are only two known photos in existence of Cynthia Ann Parker, and we find this one of her and her daughter particularly moving. It depicts her shortly after her re-capture by the Texas Rangers en route to being returned to her birth family; her hair is cut, a Comanche sign of mourning, and she’s feeding her daughter “Prairie Flower”, the only one of her children she was able to take with her. It’s a powerful image and we felt it needed to be paid homage within the Cynthia collection, so we commissioned world-renowned beadwork artist and restorer of Native American artifacts, Angela Swedberg, and she created this work of art.

The bag is ochre painted, brain-tanned deer hide, hand-beaded with antique Italian seed beads, some more modern “Picasso” finished beads, and dentalium shells, which were and still are a prized trade shell. The silver spots are antiques and in the same style as those found on high-top moccasins of Comanche women.

“I was thinking to the ‘Madonna of the Plains’ and how Cynthia Parker to me, better represents this image,” Angela explained. “She has many descendants among the Comanche people, who hold her in high praise. I see her as a heroine and not a tragic figure. I changed her daughter who was wrapped in a blanket in the original photo, to one of her carrying her in a beaded baby board; the ultimate symbol of a mother’s love for her child, to wrap her up and protect her in beauty.”

“This is one of the things we admire and about Angela,” Cheryl said. “I can always count on her to take a tiny seedling of a vision that I convey to her, and not only bring it to life, but make it better. For her to take the somewhat heartbreaking image of Cynthia in mourning after her re-capture, and combine it with the iconic Madonna of the Prairie image – it essentially empowered her, you know?

It turned Cynthia from a symbol of sadness to almost a savior. That dentalium shell halo was a brilliant and beautiful addition; it completely transformed the emotion that the image evokes. In looking at her this way, you don’t pity Cynthia, you’re proud of her; I think that was important to Angela and I’m truly in awe of how she was able to effectively embody that feeling.”

Angela is one of the very talented artisans we often collaborate with or commission to create or repair intricate beadworks for us. You can (and should!) read more about her incredible backstory and amazing artwork in the Wolf Pack Selfie feature article we wrote on her in 2019. You can also check out her work on her Facebook and Instagram.


1 Response

PATTI EDDINGTON
PATTI EDDINGTON

March 15, 2021

Exquisite beaded treasure to honor Cynthia Ann Parker. It is a truly gorgeous interpretation.
Reading her phenomenal story is an accounting of her honorably, but heartbreaking life.
Thank you for sharing. Some how it seems too sacred to put it on a casual shirt. IMHO

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