American wild horses and burros are under attack by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. According to the American Wild Horse Campaign, in 1971, the BLM was tasked with "protecting, managing, and controlling wild horse and burro populations on the federal rangeland that it administers. It established population limits called “Appropriate Management Levels” (AMLs) for each area where wild horses could be found on public land at that time." AML numbers were never calculated to protect wild horse and burro populations or the land they lived on in current times and land usage. Instead, the BLM "established AML by the number of wild horses and burros that existed in 1971, when they were considered “fast disappearing” -- a number that primarily caters to private interests despite the intention of the federal law."
The commercial livestock industry, also known as the meat industry, is highly influential to the BLM, and is an industry "that views wild horses as competition for cheap, taxpayer-subsidized grazing on public lands. While the BLM claims there are 88,000 wild horses on our western public lands, recent Congressional reports state that there are between 700,000 to 1 million domestic cattle that are permitted to graze on the lands. As it currently stands, taxpayer-funded livestock grazing is authorized on 128 million acres of public land where wild horses are completely absent. Conversely, wild horses and burros are authorized to roam just 27 million acres of public land, all of which they share with -- and are exponentially outnumbered by -- cattle and sheep. Even still, ranchers want them gone and the BLM is happy to comply."
In order to benefit the livestock industry, the "BLM uses helicopters to capture and incarcerate thousands of wild horses and burros each year in an attempt to reduce populations to near-extinction levels." The BLM "spends more than $80 million to round up thousands of wild horses and burros with helicopters from our public lands and ship them to holding pens and pastures where taxpayers must pay to house and feed them. A small percentage will be adopted, but most will remain in holding pens and pastures for life, which for an equine can span 30 years." The reality of a roundup is rarely discussed and known to the general public. "In every roundup, terrified horses are separated from their family groups, loaded onto trailers, and trucked to holding areas. Anxious mares call out to their foals and stallions injure themselves trying to defend or reunite with their families. Foals drop from exhaustion and often die in holding pens. Some horses are killed or injured. Of those, a few are regularly euthanized due to injuries incurred during the roundup." "Approximately 50,000 wild horses are currently stockpiled in long-term holding facilities across the country with no place to go. As more and more mustangs are piled into captivity, the pressure to sell them for slaughter grows. The lives of tens of thousands of these innocent and iconic animals are at stake."
However, there are are fertility alternatives and things we can all do to alter the future of these horses and burros. For more information regarding wild horse and burro populations and how to help, please visit https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/
How the pieces are made:
I begin each piece by gridding the canvas and drawing the outline of my subject. Once that is complete, I individually cut out 1/2in x 1/2in matboard squares and adhere them to the canvas to frame the subject. This adds a delightful texture to the background. I then paint the background with acrylics, making sure the matboard squares are covered and opaque as possible. After this step, I individually cut out 3in x 3in squares of watercolor paper and adhere them to the subject area of the canvas in a unique pattern. Once the glue is dry and all of the pieces are adhered, I can finish the drawing -- adding in the intricate details of the subject.
After these preliminary steps, I can finally begin to paint the subject. I start with painting watercolors on all of the watercolor paper squares, and move to oils for the rest. Once the oils are completely dry, I go back over the watercolor squares with my signature ink stippling style and add in the final details that truly make the subject come alive. Once the subject is complete, the canvas is sprayed with a mat fixative and let dry. After significant drying time, I paint each of the matboard squares with metallic paints and sign the piece.
Titling each piece:
Each piece is named after a classic Americana film to pay homage to the cultural significance of preserving our native species and heritage.
American Beauty. 36in x 48in. Mixed Media. $8640. On display at The Sedona Arts Center Gallery. Purchase Here.
Promised Land. 36in x 48in. Mixed Media. $8640