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Medium: Bronze
Type: Sculpture
Title: Backfire
DIMENSIONS: 13 × 16 × 7 in

The story of the how the west was “won”, in some respects, can be described as a tale of sorrow and loss. It was a loss of ancient cultures, human souls, and large wildlife populations. In an effort to bring Native tribes under United States control, and to meet market demands for buffalo hides and tongues, frontiersmen were encouraged to kill off the bison herds as quickly as possible leaving the moldering carcasses wasting on the plains. The bison were the unsuspecting victims in this political battle.

Now many years later we find ourselves striving to gain back our losses, sometimes in vain. Natives search for their lost traditions and ancestral stories while caring individuals struggle to patch up an unbalanced ecosystem.

“Backfire” depicts a 19th-century buffalo hunter taking aim at an American bison. His rifle backfires creating a loud boom which “triggers” the rest of the herd to stampede. Not knowing where the blast came from, the herd runs in the direction of the hunter, while the hunter ducks for cover behind a short bank of earth. In the chaos of the stampede, the hoof of a large bull comes down with the weight of his ¾-ton frame and cracks the stock of the rifle. If the hunter survives the ordeal, he is left stranded with no way to fend for himself.

As we consider our struggle to make up for the negative consequences of poor choices made in the past, may we preemptively learn that selfish intentions will undoubtedly backfire to our own demise? And may we take joy in being wise stewards of our lives.

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