Allan Houser completed Raindrops in 1993, toward the end of his career as a sculptor. This work features a Native American female figure, looking up to the sky with a resting sheep at her feet. The figure reflects Houser’s Native American heritage, while the sheep’s presence simultaneously evokes Houser’s own childhood experiences on his family’s farm. Many of Houser’s other works depict similar Native American women gazing upward. Houser also incorporated animals in his work, such as Homeward Bound created in 1989, which also includes sheep.
Houser’s creative spirit was nourished by
nature, animals, and the landscape of the Southwest. Sheep were necessary animals for clothing and food for many Native American tribes. For the Apache, all animals are considered sacred beings to be treated with respect. The culture of the Apache are deeply rooted to their land and their environment. In the Apache belief system, the Sun and Mother Earth are physical representations of the Creator who is responsible for all life. The Apache understand that people cannot exist without energy forces like the sun, moon, wind and rain. Raindrops can be regarded as a symbol to represent this deep cultural heritage and belief system.
Women are regarded as vital in the Apache culture, so it is not surprising Houser frequently used the female form in his work. Not only are they the stronghold for the family, but Apache women planted corn and were also gatherers of food. Various kinds of ceremonies are performed to celebrate women called “dances”, such as the Sunrise Dance. This Sunrise Dance is a way for the entire community to recognize and celebrate the meaning and value of womanhood. There are also other dances, such as Rain dance, a Spirit Dance, and a Harvest and Good Crop Dance.
Raindrops was cast into bronze from an original 1993 steatite (or soapstone) carving. Therefore, this sculpture is not the original piece that Houser would have created with his hands. It is one of an edition of ten and still considered an original work of the artist. Raindrops is in the collection of the Mashantuckett Pequot Tribe in Connecticut. Bronze castings of Raindrops are included in the permanent collections of the Michener Art Museum and the North Dakota Museum of Art.