Butterfield, American, born 1949
Bronze, 80 x 28 x 112 inches
of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas
Butterfield's life in Bozeman, Montana, is very much involved
She trains horses to compete in the demanding sport of dressage
(dre-sazh). During dressage competitions, riders guide their
horses through a series of walk, trot, and canter movements
without any obvious use of hands or reins, directing the horse
mainly with leg and seat signals. The horse's movements must
be smooth, precise, and graceful, and the spectators should
not be able to see the rider's signals to the horse. During
the competition the movements are performed in a specific order.
or more officials seated in various places around the ring judge
the contestants. The judges give riders and horses points for
the performance of each movement and also give penalties for
errors. When the performance is finished, the points for all
contestants are totaled and the one with the most points wins
the competition. The techniques used in this type of competition
were originated by military officers who rode horseback. Because
they had to use their hands to hold weapons, they gave signals
to their horses with their legs and by shifting their body weight.
Deborah Butterfield develops an extremely close relationship
with the horses she trains, she understands these animals in
a way that only someone deeply involved with them can. For more
than 15 years horses have been the only subject of her sculpture.
Butterfield has built horses from many materials, from mud and
sticks to rusty scrap-iron and bronze. She has used automobile
parts, parts from motorcycles and other machines, and a variety
of scrap-metal pieces.
this sculpture driftwood pieces were gathered and then cast
in bronze to be assembled in the form of a slightly over-lifesize
horse. Horses have been a traditional subject of sculpture in
the history of art. The horse has been important to man for
travel, warfare, labor and sport. Butterfield's horses
differ from many of the equestrian statues seen in city parks
or plazas. Her horses are not ridden by heroes. Hers are riderless
and seem to represent a gentler, more domesticated animal. They
encourage us to think about the possibility of a relationship
with a nature that is not threatening or imposing, but is simple,
noble, and compatible with humanity.
are three-dimensional works of art. They have height, width
and depth. Paintings and drawings, on the other hand, are two-dimensional
works having the two dimensions of height and width.
are three major ways to construct sculptures:
and assembling are both additive processes. Modeling is often
done with clay, and as long as the clay is wet, the sculptor
can add on more and more clay to build the form desired. Clay
can be pinched outward, scratched with sharp tools, and sections
can be cut away. Assembling is accomplished when individual
pieces are put together to form the sculpture.
is a subtractive process and involves removing material until
the desired form is produced. Wood and stone are some of the
common materials used for carving sculptures.
is the method of producing sculpture that was used for Butterfield's
Hina. Metals, especially bronze, are the materials often
used in casting. Bronze can be heated until it is an extremely
hot liquid and can be poured into a mold. Hina was cast
by the lost-wax method, a complex process that involves several
steps. The basic steps in casting are as follows:
sculptor makes a full size model of the intended sculpture
in clay or plaster.
coat of synthetic rubber is used to make a mold of the clay
or plaster piece produced in step 1. The rubber is applied
to the model, and when removed makes an accurate mold of all
the details of the original piece.
rubber mold is now an exterior mold of the beginning model.
It is coated inside with wax about 1/8 inch deep. The wax
layer is the exact shape and thickness at this point that
is desired for the final metal sculpture.
hollow space inside the wax layer is filled with a plaster
mixture that is allowed to dry. The rubber mold is removed
from the wax layer and many wax rods are attached all over
the outside of the wax model. In a later step, when the hot
metal is poured in, these rods will become channels through
which the melted materials will flow out of the mold.
wax model, with its wax rods and plaster core are covered
with a layer of the same plaster that was earlier used to
form the core, and this whole piece is placed in a kiln. The
heat of the kiln melts away the wax (lost-wax) leaving an
empty space between the inner plaster core and the outer layer
of plaster. The molten metal is poured into this space. The
metal takes the shape of the space once occupied by the wax.
Sometimes it can take several days for the hot metal to cool
enough to be handled.
inner and outer layers of plaster are removed, the rough spots
on the sculpture are filed away, and the final piece is ready
to be cleaned and polished.
the sculpture Hina, instead of a clay or plaster model
(step 1), Butterfield used pieces of wood to make her full size
model of the bronze sculpture she wanted to produce. When the
rubber (step 2) was applied to the wood, it made a mold that
showed the exact texture of the wood. Therefore, after the sculpture
was cast, the finished piece had the same texture as the original