Deborah Butterfield on Horses in Art and Life
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Deborah Butterfield on Horses in Art and Life

August 13, 2019


I’m Deborah Butterfield here with “Monekana” in the American Art Museum, of the Smithsonian. “Monekana” means “Montana” in Hawaiian. I thought, since I made it on the main land of Hawaiian wood, that it was an appropriate name. It kind of evolves. There’s a lot of adding and subtracting and finding out just, I don’t know, the emotional. It’s very much, I don’t know, just the visual, the balance of it is pretty formal until then there’s the neck and the head and then it becomes personified. I practice karate and dressage, and so there is this,
for me, this formal aspect of this that is also very much in a proscribed space where you execute different movements and figures. I believe it relates to this very much. I told my Sensei in karate, that your body is your horse. When you’re training, you know, there’s a question. You propose a question and then you figure out ways that you might solve it. It involves a lot of repetition and a lot of mistake, but that hopefully each day, whether it’s in the studio or with your horse or in the dojo, you hope that you come to some point of harmony and satisfaction. Even to the point where maybe things didn’t work out so well so then, especially with a horse, you try to go back and do something you do well so that you end at a positive note. It’s so nice to see your old work. You become a different person and your work changes. I’m so happy to see this piece. For one thing, it’s been inside and so the climate – acid rain and just time – hasn’t damaged the patina. I feel like it is an old friend. – music –

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  1. Very beautiful, just found out about this artist in an art class I am taking. I am amazed at how she so effectively uses the material and the negative spaces to create such a beautiful sculpture!

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