Milk River, 2019
Gift of Samuel G. Rose
Deborah Butterfield assembled pieces of driftwood to create Milk River, then cast each piece in bronze, reassembled the metal pieces, and painted them. The sculpture is named for a river in Montana, where the artist works. Butterfield’s horses are unusual in that they are mares, not stallions as is more common in art. She says she wants to make “big beautiful mares that are as strong and imposing as stallions but capable of creation and nourishing life. It is a very personal statement.” The horse is among the most ancient and persistent images in art, familiar even in the caves at Lascaux. Within this long tradition, Butterfield’s mares occupy a special place; they are not work horses, nor transport, nor war horses. Her horses are thrilling and noble reminders of our once-close intimacy with nature.