Guest Post by Tracy Miller
"Ever since I was a very young girl I have loved wild animals. My dad was a hunter and outdoorsman who fed our family with his kills. I also loved how living in Colorado brought us closer to these wild places and the Native American culture and history of the West was also a big influence on me. As a young teen, my father had the opportunity to hunt a bison on a friends land in Western Colorado. He did it the old-fashioned way, going in on horseback and with a pack mule. After returning, he brought home the hide, skull and meat and also prepared the head for mounting to display in our house. I always got up early in the morning like my Dad to have coffee and visit. He was up and cooking the heart of the animal and asked if I wanted to try some. I had never eaten the heart of any animal and thought yes, I'll try it. It's very good, in fact, if you go to Black Forest Bison here in town, there are always hearts for sale.
As I grew into the artist I am today I always think about these early influences and how they both consciously and subconsciously work their way into my art. I remember my enduring interest in the colors and culture and meaning of this great beast to the Native Americans and my obsession with horses as well. Both important animals in the founding of the west.
As Colorado changes in many fundamental ways, I feel it is up to artists such as myself to keep a hold on the history of the state by expressing in.our work the things we hold dear and that's why I am also hosting a show with One Nation Film Festival at my gallery honoring The Great American Bison, now America's National Mammal, which was almost wiped out. Now we see herds coming back thanks to government protection like we see in our National Park system, ranchers raising them for commercial purposes and to keep pure bloodlines and conservationists influencing both private and public entities to make sure we never lose a truly unique mammal to this continent.
Painting the bison is actually fun, especially in my colorful style. The powerful front shoulders and the large head of the animal are so distinct, but then when you really look at the big round brown eyes they have and their snout, you can see a slight relation to cows almost. They have an intense gaze and while seeming docile, they can turn immediately with great speed and force. To experience a herd of them running is like listening to rolling thunder! I was lucky enough a few years ago to see and feel it on the Gros Ventre east of the Tetons in Wyoming. And the sounds that the lead bull was making to tell the herd they were going to be on the move was amazing as well. I felt my spirit moved by the whole experience! Now life has come full circle, my father passed away three years ago. I now have the hide, skull and head of the animal that provided nourishment to our family and remains a symbol of my Dad as well, always bringing back those memories of my youth."