Barbara Kieffer Rowe
Black Hills Artist

Studio Updates

The Horse: Evolutionary Tracks

The Horse: Evolutionary Tracks

I am fascinated with the 50 million-year evolution of our modern horse. The earliest horses were dog-sized animals in comparison to size and stature today. The horse’s hoof also underwent profound change, especially with “toes,” which declined from five digits to a single hoofed digit.

To visually trace this evolution, imprints of horse tracks were carved in modelling paste that was applied to a portion of stretched canvas on board. The multimillion-year representation of the horse’s feet evolve in circular counter clockwise movement showing Eohippus (five “padded” imprints); Mesohippus (three digits); Merychippus (digits 2, 4 working upwards); Pliohippus (singular phalange) and our modern horse Equus (single large phalange).  Mesohippus is represented in this artwork with three-dimensional fossils from the Badlands of South Dakota.

My love for the color and texture of horse hair resulted in a swag that curves into a trail of tracks. Hair from fifteen horse manes was sorted by color, cleaned, combed and glued into multiple holes drilled plywood. Hair flows through shades of natural graded color through embedded footprints. This circular path of evolutionary hooves reflects life and movement in the ancient Earth that holds their fossil record.

“The Horse; Evolutionary Tracks”  Acrylic, horse hair, and modeling paste | 38” diameter | Private Collection

“The Horse; Evolutionary Tracks”

Acrylic, horse hair, and modeling paste | 38” diameter | Private Collection

Explore more of my horse artwork

HorsesBarbara Rowe