Bear Art by Melanie Christian
Come join us at Mountain Made gallery in downtown Asheville this Saturday, where Melanie Christian will be creating one of her famous Bear paintings in real-time.
So Why is Bear Art and Paintings so Popular here in WNC?
Bears, particularly black bears, hold a significant place in the culture and mythology of the Cherokee people, especially those in Western North Carolina.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee revered the black bear as a spirit guide and personal totem, and it was also a resource for clothing, bedding, food, oil or grease, bone tools, and jewelry-like adornments.
The Cherokee people have many myths and legends concerning black bears. For example, there’s one legend that tells of one Cherokee clan who called themselves the Ani Tsa’gu hi (Ahnee-Jah-goo-hee).
Their tale is of an unusual quest for their entire tribal clan. It is said that a young boy of the clan kept disappearing into the forest only to return to the village each time a little hairier than before.
The elders of the tribe asked the boy what was going on, and the youngster admitted that he had been spending time with the bears of the forest … sharing their foods and learning their ways.
He told the elders that the bears had plenty of food and that the rest of the tribe could join him rather than go hungry but first they would have to fast in order to prepare for the transformation from human into bear.
So after many discussions, the entire clan fasted for seven days and seven nights, then walked into the deep woods following the young boy… becoming more bear-like with each step.
It is legends like these that could be part of the reason why bear art, particularly artwork that depicts bears in common human settings (such as in Melanie’s work farming or fishing) are so popular.
The anthropomorphizing of bears could be seen as a reflection of the stories (from around the world), where Bears are seen as guides, healers, and even as beings that humans have transformed into.
In either case, we invite you to enjoy a wonderful afternoon discovering the way Melanie uses her wonderful skills to create fun, and vibrant bear-themed paintings.
Drop by Saturday from 12Pm to 3PM and immerse yourself in the bright colors of Melanie’s work as she transforms the Mona Lisa into a brilliant yet whimsical “Mona Bear” portrait as you watch.