Michael Horse: actor, jeweler, artist...a "true modern day renaissance man." For lack of talents in re-writing what has already been written well enough we pulled the following paragraphs off of his website: michaelhorse.com. (We especially love the welcome message on his homepage. It brought a sentimental tear to our eyes. Don't we miss Twin Peaks?)
Michael Horse, of Yaqui, Mescalero Apache, Zuni, European and Hispanic descent, was born in a place he calls “near Tucson”. He comes from an artistically talented family of jewelers, potters and painters. As a young boy, he grew up in a cultural rich environment and was taught how important art is to the well being of the human spirit.
A true modern day renaissance man, Michael is a jeweler, actor, stunt man, sculptor, painter and activist. As an actor, he has appeared in many movies and on television, including Twin Peaks, Passenger 57, Lakota Woman, and the CBC Canadian series, North of 60. His works of art have been shown in galleries throughout the world, and are currently available at the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles, the Eiteljorg Museum in Indiana, Kiva Fine Art Gallery in Santa Fe, and Gathering Tribes Gallery in Albany, California.
Michael learned how to make jewelry from family and other native artists who were kind enough to teach him. He had seen jewelry being made from the time he was a child. He says, “In my early silversmith career, I liked to make larger pieces, large silver bolos, horse bridals, and actual hand made silver sculptures. Some day, I hope to have time to go back and reexamine these pieces and do similar work again.”
“As long as I have been doing this,” Michael says, “I still never run out of inspiration or innovation in what can be done with this art form. Nature and spirituality are constant influences in my work. I am also inspired by non-Native artists such as Picasso and Michaelangelo, and I am inspired deeply by political artists, those who use their work to inspire others such as Diego Rivera.”
“I’m finding now that from my travel among other native cultures that I am starting to use images that I did not grow up with. I am inspired by other tribal artists. From the plains to South America to Africa, I’m finding that there are similar patterns among indigenous people around the world and that it is indeed a very small place. It is a place with similarities among us indigenous people that don’t seem to be accidental.
Michael had always been moved by the older kachina jewelry that had been made in the 1940s. These older pieces have inspired him to make amazingly detailed kachina bolos, earrings, and pendants.
During the Southwest Museum’s 20 year retrospective of his work, he realized that had not taken many photos of his work over his career. He had to try to round up pieces from collectors for the show. Upon seeing the body of his work, he realized the subtle changes it was going through as the years passed. He was also surprised to realize that some of his early work was as interesting as his new work.
“I go back and forth in my work, from the traditional to the contemporary, and I learn on this journey how the both are connected. One of the most rewarding aspects of being a jeweler is when I meet someone for the first time who owns a piece of my art, and they tell me how much they enjoy it and how many compliments they receive when they wear it. To me, that is a feeling like no other.”
Having been a jeweler for over 30 years, he has seen many innovations in traditional Native art. He is very proud of the paths that Native art have taken, as well as the path that it is moving toward with younger artists. He himself was inspired by some of his peers, including Charles Loloma and Alan Houser, and hopes that some day younger people might learn from and be inspired by some of his work. He says that, “If somebody asked me how I would like to end my career, I would say I would like it to end with inspiring younger artists. I’m very interested in our youth. In the last few years, I’ve become involved with working with inner city and rural native youth, hoping that I might be able to steer them toward a more positive and creative path.”