I fell in love when American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby. My question was… how do I make this understanding into art? I started construction of horse and flag together.
The re-claimed flags were given to me by Beth Pickrell at Quantrell Cadillac about 2010 but I did not use them until 2015. I had a conversation with Pat Bellars from Taylor Made Farm and she told me stories and sent images of American Pharoah’s time there. I made the connection of Taylor Made and American Pharoah and that connection brought me to using the flags in my artwork—a tailor made work of art.
As I worked, I mounted complete flags, pieces of the flag for parts of the horse, for bridle and reins, and to construct in a entire portrait as well as manes and forelocks or as backgrounds of paintings.
I have worked on the America and flag subject since my artist in residence in Alaska back in 2000.
This current work relates to my previous work from building upon my horse portrait series and horse constructions on paper with natural and found objects series to these painting constructions on canvas with re-claimed materials such as the flags, vintage fringe, and fur boa acid-free cardboard and a Kentucky Oaks ticket and wind horse flags. I have also used in the past the checkerboard pattern in reference to the play aspect of horses.
My process also recycles paintings as a sort of sacrifice for a greater work or a transmutation into the final painting.
Some of the work does not directly point to America. They are included due to their importance as an archetype.
Windhorse flags, Windhorse and Buddha, and Windhorse are a part of the greater symbol of the horse. Especially with the current world condition, Windhorse is a powerful symbol for all of mankind beyond American. Windhorse carries the wish fulfilling jewel of peace and harmony in the world.
I have always focused on archetype symbols as a visual poetry but with a real working background from my horse experience which includes riding dressage, hunter/jumpers, working for an Appaloosa breeder showing at halter to barrel racing. Also, I was an exercise rider at Pebble Bean Farm which included breaking yearlings and racing horses at Arlington Park.
When I paint, I dream and I connect my mind’s eye seeing with the work. Layers are built to create the horse, built up in a way like you would develop muscle on a horse so it visually feels like a horse in an abstract way. Color adds feeling to the piece. I also carve into the paint with a steak knife.
In this body of work, I am also working on the relationship of horse and rider such as in The Equestrian, In Hot Pursuit, and The Turn-around. I am exploring the space of the canvas as a pretext to imagination.
The dogs are new to my art process. Dogs are magical creatures, loyal and trusting, and full of humor.
The dog and horse are natural companions. Dogs cannot transport us like horse can but they share the journey with us.
This body of work represents my American dream inspired by the Horse and Hound.