This will be Red Star’s second solo show with the gallery. The exhibition will present three new installation drawings of horses, comprising 30 original drawings 22 x 30 inches each, sketched from historical ledger drawings and mounted on marbleized paper to form a large grid. Each wall “corral” of horses will be presented as a unit and form one work on the three back walls of the gallery. A procession of horse drawings will lead into the back of the gallery, headed by a drawing of Red Star herself and her ancestor, Green Skin, a holder of "horse getting” medicine bundle which gave him extraordinary skills to take horses from enemies. This feat, also known as “going on a raid,” required unflinching courage and a willingness to risk death, but brought honor, wealth, and greater sustainability for the Tribal Nation.
In Brings Good Horses, Red Star references the enduring importance of the horse to Plains Indian Tribal Nations since their introduction by the Spaniards in the 18th Century. Agility with horses and having a sizable herd of good horses was necessary for hunting and safeguarding the Tribe. Naturally, it became point of pride for Plains Indian warriors, who measured wealth, status and courage in the capture of horses from competing tribes. Often, hundreds of horses were taken in the dead of night, leaving their enemies bewildered at the disappearance.
The best horses were kept in the center of the camp or tied to the owner's lodge. Taking these horses was considered a rite of passage, and successful warriors were awarded lifelong “bragging rights,” leadership, and memorialized on buffalo hides. This pictorial tradition of the Plains Indian people was crucial to the “ledger drawings” which became widely known after release of drawings by imprisoned Plains Indians in Fort Marion, Florida in the 1870s. These ledger drawings continued the tradition of depicting major events in the lives of the Plains people—hunting, fighting and war.
Horses have played an important role in Red Star’s life as well: as a child she spent considerable time with a small group of horses on her family's ranch on the Crow Reservation in Montana and developed into a skilled rider and trainer, winning many awards. While researching at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Red Star came across the legacy of her family’s involvement with horses. Her 18th century relative, Green Skin, possessed a medicine bundle specifically for "getting horses.” Her great-grandfather, Red Star, was ambushed and shot by cattle rustlers while protecting the Tribal cattle. When he recovered from his wound, he retaliated by taking the cattle rustler’s horses. This act, formerly considered fair and necessary in his father’s day, was now considered larceny and Red Star was prosecuted in county court.
This familial legacy inspired Red Star to employ her own mode of "horse getting" by sketching the horses from historical ledger drawing and requisitioning them for her own work, and perhaps freeing them from long captivity and obscurity in institutions that appropriated them in their own fashion. She was especially drawn to scenes depicting battle with Crow warriors. She notes the Tribal affiliation of each horse she took for her new herd, giving tribute to the original artist and source. In addition to denoting each horse’s Tribe, she meticulously assigned a name to each of the 100 horses from the original 1907 Crow Reservation allotment map, paying particular attention to names that have disappeared from use. In this way Red Star asserts her place of honor as a horse getter in the continuing tradition of Apsáalooke warriors and artists, connecting a vibrant tradition to an ongoing pursuit of history and identity.