Deborah Butterfield For Older Children

Silhouette of horse sculpture



Deborah Butterfield

American, born 1949

Subject: Expressiveness

Activity: Make body tracings depicting emotions

Materials: Large sheet of paper and colored pencils or crayons

Vocabulary: Mood, symbolism, depict, expressive


Deborah Butterfield originally wanted to be a veterinarian, but decided to study art instead. She includes her love of animals in her art by making sculptures of horses using recycled or scrap metal. Some of the metal she uses comes from old cars or buildings that have been torn down and would otherwise be trash. Her unique materials and the delicate poses of her subjects give each of her horse sculptures distinct personalities that express specific moods. Often horses are used in art as symbols of victory or power, so they are portrayed as being very strong or aggressive. Observe how Butterfield’s sculpture is very different from the other horse sculptures on UT’s campus.


What does the horse’s body and posture tell you about the way it feels?

The sculpture is called Vermillion, which is the name of a shade of red. What feelings or ideas do we usually associate with the color red? How does this relate to the mood of the horse?

There are several other sculptures of horses on UT’s campus. How does the attitude of those horses compare to the one we see here?


List several emotions or moods. Experiment by posing your body in different ways that represent those moods. Lay down large sheets of paper on the floor, or ask an adult tack to tape the sheets to a wall. Have a friend trace your poses representing certain emotions onto the paper. Use a different colored pencil or crayon to match each mood you are depicting. Ask another friend to try and guess the emotion that each pose represents.


Depict —To represent by a picture

Expressive —Effectively conveying meaning or feelings

Mood —Mental or emotional state or disposition

Symbolism —Representing an idea or concept through images