A bronze-cast horse sculpture gifted to Washington State University’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art by alumnus Howard Wright was unveiled Friday.
“Red Forest,” created by acclaimed American artist Deborah Butterfield from found wood cast in bronze, now stands at the entrance of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital on the Pullman campus. It was dedicated during a ceremony that included Wright along with WSU System President Kirk Schulz, Provost, Executive Vice President and Pullman Chancellor Elizabeth Chilton, and Trevor Bond, director of the Center for Arts and Humanities and chair of the Campus Art Committee.
“Butterfield’s work runs counter to the tradition of equestrian statues of stallions and war-horses usually with some imposing guy in armor on top,” Bond told the crowd gathered for Friday’s dedication. “Instead, she centers her work on mares and foals, explaining in an article in Sculpture magazine, ‘I wanted to do big, beautiful mares that were as strong and imposing as stallions but capable of creation and nourishing life.’”
This isn’t Wright’s first major gift to the museum’s permanent collection. A 1976 graduate in foreign language and literature, he has been an instrumental figure in ensuring the vibrancy of the arts at WSU through gifts and service, including co-chairing the steering committee that resulted in the building of the crimson cube Schnitzer Museum of Art on the Pullman campus.
The gift of the Red Forest sculpture is made in honor of Wright’s mother, Theiline Scheumann, who enjoyed a long working relationship with Dr. Leo K. Bustad, a pioneer at WSU in human-animal interactions and dean of the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine from 1973–84. Wright’s gift is intended as a tribute to Bustad, who helped to inspire Scheumann’s accomplishments in horse breeding and horseracing.
Chilton joined others in thanking Wright for the generous gift and for his support in elevating the role of the arts at WSU.
“It’s been said that the three pillars of sustainability are environmental, social, and economic,” Chilton said. “Well, one element that overlaps all three of these is the arts. I am grateful for our vibrant arts community on and off campus here in Pullman.”
The sculptor, Butterfield, is best known for her depictions of horses made from found objects and natural materials, such as wood and recycled metal. Her work has been shown in the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Neuberger Museum of Art, the Israeli Museum of Art in Tel Aviv, and the Arken Museum of Modern Art in Ishoj, among others. She has received numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship and a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. The artist lives and works in studios in Hawaii and Montana.