Artist statement and benefits to the public
As a public artwork, Running Horse’s artistic merit and the benefits to the riders of the C-Train are inseparable. The artwork is accessible on a variety of levels:
- At its core, the work can be understood and appreciated in direct relation to the viewer’s experience as a C-Train passenger. The essence of this simple and immediate connection — “Look, Mom, there’s a horse running beside us!” — is available to virtually all train riders.
- Beyond this, the galloping horse holds a range of associations to both the artwork’s specific site and to the city as a whole. The most obvious of these is the historical and present-day importance of the Calgary Stampede…but this visual icon also relates to Calgary’s Spruce Meadows, to the Stampeders football team, and so on; or more broadly, to Calgary’s early ranching history and the traces of that history that still remain.
- On a purely symbolic level, I believe the vibrant, dynamic image of a running horse perfectly reflects the spirit of our city, for both locals and tourists alike.
- And finally, those select viewers who are familiar with photography or film history will find additional resonance in the work’s connection to Eadweard Muybridge and his motion studies of horses in the late 19th century — the world’s first photographic “motion pictures.”
None of these levels of interpretation is essential to “properly understand” the piece, mind you: they’re all there for the taking or leaving. And of course, individual viewers will bring their own personal experience and interpretations to the work.
I mention these particular associations, however, because they reflect both my goals for the artwork and the benefits of its successful creation: the artwork will provide a unique and engaging visual experience for the many riders of the C-Train, and will offer an artistic encounter with the potential to provide a sense of place, value, and meaning to an otherwise pragmatic location and time.