Art, by its very nature, is ever-changing. And one of the joys of art is seeing an artist stretch the boundaries to create a unique sculpture, with unexpected materials.
Native American artist Bennett Brein did exactly this with his realistic and incredibly detailed bison sculpture which stands on the grounds of the state capitol in Bismarck, North Dakota.
If construction experience is on your résumé then you probably recognize the medium, and for those that don’t, it’s rebar – aka steel “reinforcing bar” used to strengthen newly poured concrete. Imagine the effort it must have taken to cut and fit this many steel rods and forge them into a massive and noble-looking buffalo.
A little backstory on the artist makes the sculpture even more appealing. An article in Fine Living Review Magazine said:
“If you’re looking for the pretentious artiste … well, you’ll have to keep looking.”
When Native American artist Bennett Brien hears that he is to be profiled in a magazine called Fine Living Review, he laughs.
“Well, I guess I qualify,” he says. “I did just get running water after about nine years.”
Are congratulations in order?
“Naw, man,” he says, “now I’ve got to hook up a shower and a toilet … all that stuff.”
Bravo Bennett! Very well done.
James & Terri
Isn’t that an absolutely smashing bison!
Yvonne, one of the things that I like best about this sculpture is the level of detail – achieved with steel bars! ~James
Amazing close-ups. So glad you started the post with one.
I just love that shot of the eye Peggy. It clearly shows not only Brien’s artistic skills, but also his welding prowess. ~James
Awesome, and what a cool medium… There’s a lot, a LOT of work behind that statue.
It’s truly amazing Anne. And consider that it was all welded, so there’s no margin for mistakes. ~James
wow, so cool –
Thanks Beth. I’ve certainly never seen anything like it – before or since. ~James
What a talented artist! I can’t even begin to image what prompted his to use rebar, but it’s perfect.
I agree Laura. Rebar is exactly the right material – visually and metaphorically. In a museum in Ocala, FL, there was an exhibit of horses that were made of driftwood. These were wonderful and took a very creative eye to construct. ~James
Can you imagine the dedication to build that piece by piece? I have a hard time staying focused on writing a single blog post. 🙂 The finished result is a remarkable and definitely creative work of art.
Sue, I’m a big picture kind of guy, so these details are beyond me (which may have something to do with my not being an artist). But don’t you just love this sculpture? Are there any parks in Alberta that have wild herds of buffalo? The Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota has a really big herd that just wanders where it wishes – which is refreshing actually. ~James
Impressive. As you know, I always enjoy unique sculptures James and Terri. Using rebar definitely fits the unique category. Very well done.
We saw several old buffalo heads in local museums as we crossed the west, and heard the sad tales about their destruction, which was sometimes facilitated by the US Government to force Native American’s onto reservations. One roadside historical marker reported on a town (no longer in existence) that had over one million hides on hand at once. –Curt
Curt, you’ve mentioned two stark examples of America’s concept of manifest destiny at its very worse: our abysmal treatment of Native Americans and the useless slaughter of the buffalo. It’s painful to read the accounts of both. We’ll never know, but it would be interesting to see how different our history would be if these two issues had been handled more humanely. ~James
Yes it would, James. –Curt
I spotted the rebar in the very first photo. It’s used around here to construct trawl doors for shrimp boats. As an aside, a three-foot length of rebar with a 90 degree bend in one end makes a wonderful anti-theft device for pots of plumeria. Empty pot, drill hole, push rebar into the ground with bend in the bottom of the pot, replace flower. It’s hernia time for any creep who tries to haul off the pot.
Now, back to the sculpture. It’s fabulous. That he would get the concept in the first place is wonder number one. That he’d carry it off so beautifully is even better. It’s a reminder that perseverance and patient attention to detail are as important for art as moments of inspiration.
Linda, I believe that anything can be a meditation, and when art of any sort gets to this level of detail, it must put the artist in another place. Good advice on the rebar anti-theft idea. Luckily, we haven’t had that problem in years, but I reckon that anyone who would steal plants is the lowest of the low. I mean really!. Somehow it seems counter to the entire concept of gardening. ~James
I love art (not all of it). But I’m open minded about it. This piece is unique. But I can’t imagine working with that medium. Clay, oil, water…soft stuff, I can imagine. I can imagine living without water and a toilet, also. But I just don’t want to.
BF, the thing I find amazing about using rebar is not only the difficulty in making the cuts, but also, for a sculpture of this size and level of detail, the sheer number of cuts that had to be made. Impressive indeed. ~James
What a stunning piece and such a humble artist too.
I agree Marie. I would love to meet the artist. I’m sure that a simple lifestyle helps him focus on his art. ~James
This is an amazing work of art. I just love it. The rebar used to create it is so symbolic as it represents the strength of the formidable bison, an animal that refuses to become extinct. (I seem to have missed some of your posts, not sure why, but I am catching up.)