Don't Doubt Your Horses
Artist Statement by Dan Wahl: Don’t Doubt Your Horses is an interactive exhibition that includes your drawings with mine. It has been in development for 7 years, beginning with the 400 Horses Project.
Born from a desire to understand the equine body structure, the 400 Horses Project began as a drawing exercise. I set out to create 400 horse drawings from January 1 to December 31, 2015. All was going well until I got blocked a few months into the project. I journaled and meditated and drew my way through the artist’s block. Then came a truly unexpected idea. I discovered that the project was not about making horse drawings. It was about liking the horse drawings. If the project was to be completed at all, I would have to accept all the horses.
Every drawing, every horse. This was much easier said than done. The shift of focus from the act of drawing to the act of liking necessitated a deeper appreciation for the horses themselves. In order to accept them I had to let them be who they were. Who they are.
This approach to the project began raising essential questions about standards and aesthetics. What is “bad art”? What drawings would artists hide in their sketchbooks? What horses would be crumpled up and thrown away? In the end, it seemed right to include every single drawing in one exhibition.
The phrase “Don’t Doubt Your Horses” traveled along with some of the more adventuresome horses who were harder to like. I repeated the phrase to myself. Without that mantra some of these horses might never have come into being.
Dan Wahl is an artist and writer from the prairie land of southwest Minnesota. He thanks all people, past and present, who hold the land in their hearts. For several decades he has been asking friends, acquaintances, and strangers, “Could you please draw me a horse?”
Wahl received an Established Career Artist Grant from SMAC in 2021.