Bear is a carved wood sculpture by North Carolina artist Virgil Ledford. Bears are commonly found in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Many of you may see bears near your home or in a local forest. Bears are part of the artist’s cultural heritage, as a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. They provided food and skin for the Cherokee people, and their teeth were and still are worn on necklaces for good luck. Throughout history people have drawn, painted, and carved images of animals. The oldest known drawings in the world, cave paintings, include images of bears.
Questions for Engagement
- Notice how the bear’s standing. What’s it doing? What happened just before this moment? What about just after this moment?
- Is this a realistic or abstract image of a bear? How can you tell?
- How would you describe the texture of this carving? How do you think the artist carved this bear? What tools did he use?
- Why do you think the artist chose wood for this artwork? How would it be different if it were made with clay or plastic? How would it be different if it were a drawing or photograph? His sculpture is about the size of a piece of paper. How do you think it would be different if it were bigger or smaller?
- Lined paper
Write a narrative about Bear. Use the questions below to help you brainstorm about the setting, details, and sequence of events before you write your story. Decide if your story will be realistic or abstract, or fictional?
Describe the setting
- What time of day is it? Is the bear just waking up or getting ready to sleep? What does the sky look like?
- What season is it? Are spring flowers blooming, or are leaves falling off the trees?
- What temperature is it outside? What would the air feel like?
- Where’s the bear, and what’s it doing? Is it walking in a meadow, a forest, or a zoo? How would the ground feel?
- What sounds would you hear? What would you smell?
Describe the details of your story
- Who’s this bear? Is it a mother bear looking for her cub before it gets dark, or a father bear smelling the scent of food? Is the bear a young cub off by itself for the first time?
- Who else is around? Other animals or people?
- How’s this bear feeling?
- Imagine your story in colors. What colors come to mind?
Choose the sequence of events in your story
- What happens in the beginning? Introduce us to the setting and the characters.
- What happens in the middle? Give us lots of details to make the story interesting.
- How does your story end? Is it a happy or sad ending?
After you write your story, draw the bear or a scene to illustrate your story. You may want to draw a bear from your imagination or look at Bear and draw what you see. Don’t forget to add a background!