Artist Creates a Horse of Steel

How do you build a 1900 pound replica of a horse, using only recycled steel materials? Through the words elegance, quality and form, describes Chris McConnell, a senior student at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

“I used all recycled materials, that I found in a junkyard. All the steel that is used in the work is very thick giving it the ability to last over a 100 years outside, and if treated perhaps longer. All the steel was bent by hand forming its contour and parallel lines,” says McConnell.

“The decision of style and aesthetics of the spacing and organization of the steel was a big part of the work as well.”

For the last three years, McConnell has been studying Asian philosophies and culture. He feels the figure relates to Taoist’s belief of space as a second dimension.


“Also the work seems lighter with the gaps giving it a faster feel. Weight distribution was also a major concern for me.”

McConnell asked himself during construction, how to place the materials to replicate the fluent, dynamic and natural feel of a horse.

“In doing so, the horse (sculpture) has what we call in the fine-arts world, a contrapposto.”

“The materials that I used were selected very special for this work. I did not want to show many known parts.”

To avoid the feeling that comes from obvious ‘recycled art’, McConnell explains he used steel as a medium to create the sculpture and erase the material’s association with its’ previous function.

“Some of the parts used were a propane tank, truck leaf springs, truck drive shaft swivel, three air tanks, re-bar, implements from tractors, as well as many different sized pipes.”

By relating to the words elegance, quality and form he feels that the contour line, has become most important in this work.

“The line works in a dynamic way – to show direction and muscle mass.”

This piece is a combination of the artist’s interest in Green Works (sculptures made from recycled products) and the form he was drawn to, in the a neighbor’s saddle bred horse. The 16.5 HH structure took four months, from construct to installation, and was placed last fall at the four star Red Maple Inn, in Burton Ohio.

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