Wood carver Hib Sabin is inspired by his interest in shamanism and the search for a spiritual connection between man and nature. An artist for his whole professional career, Hib has progressed through many different forms of expression, arriving at a form that is very much his own. His painted wood carvings - and the bronzes derived from them - are not only distinct and original, they inspire a conversation between the artist and the collector. The selection of Hib Sabin's art for the show "With Spirit" is intended to demonstrate the artist's range of talent, and his range of influences.
Hib uses juniper wood as a medium for his carvings. He gathers the wood near his rural home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and in many instances he handpicks a piece with a particular sculpture in mind. Hib hand-carves each piece, and painstaking paints them to bring them to life. His carvings range from simple totemic 'fetishes' that are small enough to fit in a hand, to larger display pieces that will be a focal point for a home. The bronze castings of his original carvings have expanded the availability of his work, and the patinas he has chosen have added to his repertoire.
Although Hib says his carvings began as "ritual objects for my own healing", they have become more like a window into the mind of the artist. He is very interested in the symbolism of owls, bears, wolves, and ravens and they appear in many of his works. "I am interested in transformation, the interaction of humans with the spirit of nature." Hib said. "My art has always been interested in mythology and spirit. When I say "spirit" ... I mean the spirit of nature. I'm basically looking, from either an aesthetic point of view or a ritual point of view, for these objects to reach into the heart of nature."
Hib Sabin was the subject of an extensive article in the July, 2004 issue of Southwest Art Magazine. In the article, Hib expands on his view of the shamanic world. "Shamanism has to do with healing and divination, with working in parallel worlds - the upper and lower worlds - and with the energy and the journeying between the two," he explains. "In shamanism, everything is felt to be animated, to have soul energy. A TV, a rock, everything has a life force. What I try to do is imbue these critters - these power animals, these animal spirits, which are like an alter ego - with this spiritual energy. All I've done is taken these shamanic elements, from the Oglala to the Siberian to the Huichol, and reinvented them into my own vocabulary."