National Museum of Wildlife Art
Jackson Hole, WY
Unbroken Spirit: The Wild Horse in the American Landscape
November 19, 1999 Sunday, April 9, 2000
Perhaps more than any other single icon, the wild horse has come to symbolize the spirit of the American West. To explore the continuing saga of the wild horse in America, with special emphasis on the animal's natural history and its impact on American culture, the National Museum of Wildlife Art presents a blockbuster exhibition titled Unbroken Spirit: The Wild Horse in the American Landscape. This exhibition is an excerpt of the original, multi-media Unbroken Spirit (July 23 -- October 31, 1999) curated by Dr. Charles Preston, Curator of Natural History at the Buffalo Bill Historical Society in Cody, Wyoming. (see our illustrated article on the exhibit at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center) (left: W. R. Leigh, Female of the Species, National Museum of Wildlife Art)
Featuring original artwork, cultural and biological artifacts, and interactive media, this exhibition paints a compelling and insightful picture of an animal that has captured the imagination of Americans for the past four centuries. The featured artwork includes images from the NMWA's own collections such as William R. Leigh's oil on canvas, Female of the Species, 1946, and Jeff Rudolph's alabaster sculpture, Painted Renegade, circa 1990's.
Despite the fact that the modern horse is arguably not even native to North America, and that its status as a wild animal is challenged by some, the wild horse is admired by millions who identify with its indomitable spirit. The modern horse was introduced to North America as a domestic animal by Spanish explorers in the sixteenth-century, some 10,000 years after closely related horse ancestors had become extinct on this continent. Use of horses spread widely among settlers and Native Americans, heralding a profound cultural revolution, especially on the western plains. Horses that escaped or were released from captivity banded together to form large, genetically mixed herds. These were the first "wild" horses. It was not until 1971 that federal legislation was passed to protect wild horses on public lands, which led to the establishment of wild horse refuges. (right: Comanchee Indians Throwing the Lasso, National Museum of Wildlife Art)
This exhibition has been generously sponsored by The Holt Family, Teton Club, Williams Companies, Inc., Wyoming Arts Council, and the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole -- Old Bill's Fun Run for Charities III.
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