• White Cedar

    by Deborah Butterfield

    Dedicated April 16, 2009


    "White Cedar" by Deborah Butterfield is a visual paradox. It appears to be a horse, but it also appears to be an abstract assemblage of driftwood. Both are illusions. Not only does she create the illusion of a horse in driftwood, she also creates the illusion of driftwood in bronze.

    Butterfield makes no excuses for her love of horses.

    She rides them, she trains them and she makes sculptures of them. Her understanding of the anatomy of a horse is so acute that she is capable of capturing the essence of a horse using the most unusual materials, driftwood or found scrap metal. This is the work of an artist whose love of the beauty of the horse is reminiscent of the miniature bronze maquettes of Degas' horses. Yet Deborah Butterfield's horses are cast in bronze to full scale.

    Her horses are not the nostril flared war horses of heroic military monuments. Her horses have a relaxed understated stance as if captured by a stop action camera at leisure, grazing, resting, or sleeping. The significance of Butterfield's sculpture is her ability to articulate the subtle gestures of a powerful animal at rest.

    Through sophisticated patinas that have chemically etched the bronze with all the subtle colorations of nature, Butterfield's cast bronze horses have the added illusion of an assemblage of aged driftwood, if only caught at a moment's glance. A closer look reveals an abstract sculpture that somehow captures the essence, and spirit of everything we find amazing about horses.

    "White Cedar" was supported by the Lewis and Clark Community College Foundation.

    Deborah Butterfield  is an American artist, born in 1949.