Deborah Butterfield, who owns, rides, and trains horses on her ranch in Montana, has likened the act of “building” a horse through training to the creative process of building her sculptures. Since the early 1970s, Butterfield has been creating magnificently observed, highly individualized horses from a diversity of found materials—fragments of wood, wire, scrap metal, mud, brick dust, and straw. Woodrow is something of a technical tour de force. Butterfield took a selection of sticks, tree branches, and bark, cast each element individually in bronze, and then assembled and welded the pieces together to create the stately beast. Each element was then patinated to create the look of the original sticks and branches. The trompe l'oeil effect is so convincing that many visitors to the Garden believe the piece is actually made of wood.
© 1998 Walker Art Center