Sherry Markovitz began making paintings and large-scale sculpture with beads in the early 1980s, and she is internationally known for her mixed-media animal heads. Her inspiration comes from ethnic, folk, tribal, and Native American traditions, rather than from contemporary figural or abstract art. Big Bear may be appreciated more as a symbolic power object than as a hunting trophy. The animal head, which is made of a taxidermy form that Markovitz further molded with papier-mâché, is thickly encrusted with colorful and eye-catching materials, such as buttons, shells, sequins, artificial fruit, and tufts of fur, in addition to beads in a range of colors. In many cultures, an object gains power from the accumulation of materials that adorn it. These may be rare or treasured materials—or, in the case of Big Bear, materials that have special meaning for the artist. “The ornamented animal trophy heads of deer, elk and moose and wild cats . . . are beautiful images of rebirth, the death somewhat masked by their beauty,” Markovitz says. “They are also a feminization of the traditionally male role as hunter, which has for centuries carried an unspoken taboo for women.” Markovitz’s trophy heads reflect personal emotional states, but viewers also see references to environmentalism, feminism, and animal rights.