(American, born May 7, 1949) is a renowned sculptor, known for sculpting horses from materials such as wood and metal. Butterfield was born in San Diego, CA, on the same day as the 75th running of the Kentucky Derby, a fact that she claims to be the source of inspiration for her tendency to sculpt horses. Manuel Neri
, a artist renowned for sculpting the female form, mentored Butterfield, another factor she has cited in steering her away from depicting women in her work.
Examples of Butterfield's works include Lalapa
(1981), and Blanket Saddle
(1972). Butterfield attended San Diego State College, in San Diego, CA, from 1966 to 1968, and also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, in Skowhegan, ME, in 1972. Butterfield received her Bachelor's degree and an MFA from the University of California, Davis, in 1971 and 1973, respectively. She holds an honorary doctorate of Fine Arts from Montana State University in Bozeman, MT (1998), and another from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, MT (1997).
Butterfield only works during winter, and, hence, each of her works takes some time to finish, usually in the range of three to five years. Butterfield's work exudes an abstract narrative elegance that, together with her colorful forms, have drawn comparisons to John Chamberlain
. Butterfield has received numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, an American Academy of Achievement Award, and a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship.
Butterfield has participated in a number of exhibitions including those held at the Sacramento Valley at San Francisco State College in San Francisco, CA, in 1972; the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel, in 1981; and the Greg Kucera Gallery
in Seattle, WA, in 2008. Her public collections are housed in different places, including Meijer Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI; Yale University in New Haven, CT; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY. Deborah Butterfield is represented by Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago, IL, the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, WA, and La Louver
in Los Angeles, CA.
Butterfield lives and works in a studio in Hawaii and a ranch in Bozeman, MT.