Repaired horse sculpture returns to art plaza Nov. 19

November 18, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Silver Bow, a life-size horse sculpture formerly near Purdue University’s Yue-Kong Pao Hall, will be reinstalled to its original location on Thursday (Nov. 19).

The bronze work on the South Campus Plaza, created by world-renowned artist Deborah Butterfield, was damaged in fall 2014 when an automobile hit the sculpture at the intersection of Sheetz and Wood streets. 

The damaged sculpture was shipped to Butterfield for assessment. She determined that it could be repaired at her foundry in Walla Walla, Washington.

Butterfield oversaw the repair work, and Silver Bow was restored last winter but reinstallation was delayed so that the sculpture could be included in a retrospective of Butterfield’s work at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

“The retrospective was an excellent opportunity to share the sculpture with the million-plus visitors that the Denver Botanic Gardens hosts every year,” said Michal Hathaway, assistant director at Purdue University Galleries.  

Crews from Purdue Grounds will assist a team from the Chicago-based Methods and Materials to reinstall Silver Bow in front of Pao Hall. Work begins at 8 a.m. on Thursday, and it is expected to take four hours to complete.  

Silver Bow background:

Silver Bow is a 1,700-pound bronze sculpture. It was commissioned specifically for Purdue and funded by the Florence H. Lonsford Endowment, which is restricted to purchasing artwork. It was installed on campus in 2009.

Butterfield is known for her sculptures of horses. Her work is on display at a number of museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Butterfield created the sculpture by assembling wooden sticks, logs and branches into the form of a horse. Photographs of the sculpture were taken before it was carefully disassembled. The individual pieces were then covered with a ceramic mold material that was fired in a kiln, burning away the wood but leaving an impression in the ceramic. After cleaning, the molds were used to cast replicas of the original wood in bronze, and then the molds were destroyed when the bronze was removed to ensure the sculpture is unique. After reassembly of the various parts, the bronze was then treated with a chemical solution that formed a patina that closely emulates the character of the original wood. In most cases, the patina and texture are so effective that viewers believe they are actually viewing a wooden sculpture.

Yue-Kong Pao Hall, which opened in 2005, is home to the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts. The South Campus Plaza, which features seating for study and outdoor classes, was dedicated in April 2009 

Writer: John Hughey, 765-494-2432, 

Source: Michal Hathaway, 765-496-2816, 

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