Bachelor, University California, Davis, 1971. Master of Fine Arts, University California, Davis, 1973. Doctor of Fine Arts (honorary), Montana State University, 1998.
Doctor of Fine Arts (honorary), Rocky Mountain College, Billings, Montana, 1997. Doctor of Fine Arts (honorary), Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington, 2004.
Along with her artist-husband John Buck, she divides her time between a farm in Bozeman, Montana and studio space in Hawaii. She is known for her sculptures of horses made from found objects, like metal, and especially pieces of wood. Born the same day as the 75th running of the Kentucky Derby, Butterfield partly credits that birthdate as an inspiration for her subject matter.
She has also said that she would have preferred to work in the female form, but that her mentor Manuel Neri dominated that form. Gradually, the horses themselves became her primary theme. Butterfield's work has been exhibited widely and there is demand among art collectors for her sculptures.
She began crafting horses out of scrap metal and cast bronze in the early 1980s. She would sculpt a piece using wood and other materials fastened together with wire, then photograph the piece from all angles so as to be able to reassemble the piece in metal. She works only in the winter, so pieces usually take 3 to 5 years.
As critic Grace Glueck wrote in The New York Times in 2004, "By now Deborah Butterfield's skeletal horses, fashioned of found wood, metal and other detritus, are familiar to almost a generation of gallerygoers. Yet they still have a freshness, which comes from the artist's regard for them as individuals. In fact, training, riding and bonding with horses, as she does at her Montana ranch, she thinks of them as personifications of herself...They seem to express the very spirit of equine existence."
Deborah Butterfield is represented by Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco.
Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, Washington. LA Louver, Los Angeles, California. And Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, Illinois.
The Honolulu Museum of Art, the Rockwell Museum (Corning, NY), the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York City), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), the Delaware Art Museum, and the Neuberger Museum of Art (Purchase, New York) are among the public collections holding work by Deborah Butterfield.
(Published on the occasion of an exhibition organized by t...)
Married John Buck; 2 children.