Being a romantic, John M. Soderberg has long been attracted to stories and legends of romance. The bronze sculpture, Searcher, depicts a scene from an ancient Adirondak legend similar to the Romeo and Juliet love story, except that this legend has a happy ending.
The legend begins with a male warrior drinking from a beautiful freshwater lake as he spots a breathtakingly gorgeous Mermaid in the water--she spots him simultaneously. They fall in love, and he abandons all he had been taught about the Merpeople and goes in the water to live with her. It isn't long before a Merbaby arrives on the scene.
The warrior is from an opposing tribe. Merpeople are considered the enemy, and a tribesman who would go into the sea with a Mermaid is thought to be deranged by her evil spell. The tribe is furious, thinking the mermaid an evil temptress who used trickery to lure their tribesman away. They plot to kidnap and reclaim their former member. Successful in the kidnapping, the man and mermaid are unwillingly torn apart.
As the legend goes, the oyster's pearl gives a Mermaid the same magical power that the sorcerer's wand gives the sorcerer.
An oyster offers the Mermaid his pearl. Searcher leaves her Merbaby in the oyster's care while she goes off on her seahorse, with the power of the pearl, to rescue her man after months of captivity.
From out in the ocean, she peers at the tribe's camp on shore, waiting patiently all day until she finally spots her man. She notices his slow and arduous pace, his shoulders slumped. She knows her man is grieving, as she is, over their forced separation.
When the time is right, she uses the power of the pearl to create a severely threatening rumble coming from the ocean. The tribesmen fear the coming of a tidal wave that will wash them all away. They figure their canoes would be the safest of all possible places to be, because they could at least have a chance of surfing the wave and surviving. In terror, they jump into their canoes and paddle ferociously out to sea.
Amidst the chaos, the Mermaid remains vigilant of her man's whereabouts. She makes sure that none of the tribespeople spot her as she swiftly follows the canoe carrying her man. When no one else is looking, she captures his attention, and he quickly abandons his paddles and dives into the water after her. They abruptly swim away hand-in-hand underwater, and are soon reunited with their baby. The three of them all swim to a safe place to live, never to be separated again.
Possibly of Interest
Searcher, a life-size bronze (who says mermaids don't come in all sizes?), is #4 in a story-telling future series of seven. John plans to sculpt the entire series in monumental size someday.
It's impossible to capture all of the details of this piece in one photo. The face on the pufferfish represents the first time John has ever put a human face on an animal or fish. The merbaby cradled in the oyster shell is playing peek-a-boo as she tickles another fish's belly.
The complexity of Searcher requires many molds, intricate and labor- intensive assembly, and a very time consuming (but fun) patina.