"Massive and even aggressive, [De Obaldía’s sculptures] immediately bypass any stereotypical notions of glass as a precious or fragile medium. Emissaries from the amoral realm of nature, their presence is fierce and confrontational, and yet also poignant and mesmerizingly beautiful." —Susan L. Aberth, Isabel De Obaldía, Unearthed (2008). Isabel De Obaldía’s distinctive sand-cast sculptures draw on ancient and tribal art. Her large, totemic animals, colored with glass powders and engraved with raw cuts and gashes, have a powerful, almost shamanic presence. The title of this sculpture refers to the crocodile as the king of the cenote, which is a deep natural well. In ancient times, sacrifices to the gods often took place at a cenote. De Obaldía was trained as a painter. Her work reflects that of a long line of modern “primitive” painters, from Paul Gauguin to Diego Rivera, who explored the art of ancient and tribal cultures. Her paintings and sculptures incorporate symbols and ideas from ancient Panamanian, Colombian, and Costa Rican art. The thin, stafflike form of her crocodile, for example, alludes to the partly submerged body of the crocodile in water, as well as to the ceremonial batons used by a number of indigenous peoples of Panama. The weathered-looking surface of the sculpture gives it an air of antiquity. De Obaldía was born in Washington, D.C., in 1957, and she was raised in Panama by French and Panamanian parents. She studied architecture at the University of Panama and drawing at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris before receiving a B.F.A. in graphic design and cinematography from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, in 1979. De Obaldía continued her studies in art at the Art Students League in New York City in 1982. In 1987, she began to work with glass at the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, where she studied engraving and glass casting for over a decade. She currently lives and works in Panama City.