Shadow Horses

The first place was for the Traditional Art, Dimensional Work category at this years' annual AIHEC (American Indian Higher Education Consortium) Conference.
The grasses and sage are all from the South Dakota Prairie on the Rosebud Reservation, and our paint horses run among them. I chose the pine plywood back wall because it resembles the hills and grasses. The red cedar also lives here, and was cut slowly to leave burn marks for added woodsy dimension. Having worked with bones for many years,i had always noticed the resemblance of the ribs to horse heads and wanted to create something which used that similitude.
This started out as an entirely different project. I was intent on making a Hand Game* set. I began with small deer ribs, and encased a portion for the "body" and added horse tail for the tails. The beads are 13/0 cut glass beads, approximately half a millimeter in diameter, in a freestyle "paint horse" pattern. I wanted to use horse hair for the mane, but it was too stiff and would only stand straight up, hence the bead manes. Since this was a personal project, it was often put aside for commissioned work, but actual work on these is about 100 hours. Somewhere in that time, my arthritis got so bad i could no longer hold the required size 15 needle. (The higher the bead and needle number the smaller they are. A 15 needle is like a horse tail hair with an eye for thread.)
One of my teammates wanted on of the sticks, to put in a shadow box. This gave me the idea to create this shadow box.

* Hand Game. A traditional Plains Indian betting game, using sticks for tallying. Depending on the tribe, there can be anywhere from11 to 18 sticks.

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