sculptureworks, inc.
link to about us link to sculptors link to library exhibits link to lectures and workshops link to shows and sales link to commissions link to world tours
link to from clay to bronze link to kids site link to support and volunteer link to resources link to news link to calendar link to contact us
paul oestreicher paul oestreicher

Paul Oestreicher
"Touching Leaves Woman"
Bronze, Edition of 12
14 1/2" H x 10" W x 6 1/2" D

touching leaves woman

touching leaves womanThe finished clay version of "Touching Leaves Woman".

WENJIPAHKEEHELEHKWE, "Touching Leaves Woman"
(Nora Thompson Dean, 1907 - 1984)

Born in "Indian Territory" shortly before it became the State of Oklahoma, Touching Leaves Woman was the last member of her tribe trained as a nentpikes, or traditional healer, one of the few remaining speakers of her language (Unami dialect), and one of the last full-blooded Lenape (Delaware) Indians.

The Lenape originally inhabited what is now New Jersey, lower New York, Eastern Pennsylvania and Southeastern Delaware. William Penn, James Fenimore Cooper and others fell under the spell of their musical language and were captivated by their culture: to this day numerous other Algonquian tribes refer to the Lenape respectfully as the "Grandfather Nation."

Pushed from their homeland by an unstoppable tide of Euro-American settlers, the Lenape were removed to Ontario, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma. Many of the latter learned to survive as Plains Indians, hunting the buffalo and serving as guides to such noted explorers as John Fremont and Kit Carson.

As a young woman, Touching Leaves participated in the Big House rites and other important Lenape ceremonies which died out in the 1920s and 30s, and her later years were devoted to furthering knowledge of Lenape language and culture. She worked with numerous linguists, anthropologists and historians, and contributed to more than one hundred publications. The artist’s brother, Dr. David Oestreicher, recorded her memories, language and traditions, and is preparing her biography. Touching Leaves was honored
by a number of mayors and governors, including New York City’s Mayor Edward I. Koch and Governor Nigh of Oklahoma, who proclaimed her an "Oklahoma Ambassador of Good Will."

Artist Paul Oestreicher worked closely with Touching Leaves, creating early studies for this bronze at her home in Dewey, Oklahoma. Above all, it was her wish that knowledge of her people be preserved. It is hoped that this portrait of Touching Leaves, and of other Lenape made by the artist, will help keep alive the faces, dreams, and dignity of this ancient and proud people.

Additional information:
There are six castings of Touching Leaves Woman in private collections, and a seventh
permanently featured in the exhibition: "In Search of the Lenape: The Delaware Indians Past and Present", which has toured museums and historical sights in New York and New Jersey. Additionally, the sculpture was selected by officials of the U.S. Department of State for display abroad as work representative of American art, and has been featured at the Ambassador’s Residence in Guatemala.

Click here to return to Paul Oestreicher's main page.

Copyright © 2001 - 2014.  Sculptureworks, Inc.  All rights reserved.