Growing up in a family of artists in Bozeman and in Cottonwood Canyon gave Tina DeWeese a love for simplicity, horses and creative expression. While De-
Weese is well known for her wire horses, she also paints,
does line drawing, collage, and bronze sculpture. Her
work is in her home gallery in Bozeman, in the Gallatin
River Gallery in Big Sky, and in Billings, Big Fork,
Butte and Helena. At art fairs like Sweet Pea, she sells
the wire sculptures, as well as her line of T-shirts.
My parents met at Ohio State and got caught up in
the wave of abstract expressionism. They moved to
Montana in ’49. My dad taught at MSU for 27 years.
My folks were painters and printmakers and were a
major influence in the contemporary art world here
As a kid I grew up with art. That’s what our house
was about. We drew a lot, and were involved with
theater and dance, and played music. My real love
We got our first horse, Molly, when I was five. She
was a really nice horse, kid friendly. We used to ride
her triple. My sister Gretchen and I were the horse
lovers. My brothers were the skiers. It just happens
like that. You have choices. I’ve had horses all my
My younger brother, Josh, is an artist. He got hooked
on clay pretty young and took the bull by the horns
and ran with it. Now he’s teaching Ceramics at MSU,
where my dad taught.
In 1983, I got a degree in Arts and Humanities from
Evergreen in Washington. I did independent work in
Depth Psychology and was in a program called Life
Studies that was designed to help people orient to
their life work. At that time for me, it was about care
giving. I interviewed people in nursing homes, did restorative
care and also did home care. In the two years
I was in that program, I returned to my roots as artist.
I stayed in Washington for 10 years. In 1989, I moved
back to Montana. A big part of me longed to get back
to nature and my horses. I’m glad I did.
Working with a line, specifically with the figure of
the horse, is a meditation on a form. It becomes a
foundation to infinite variation of that form. The line
is such a direct process, very basic and simple.
I do wire sculpture freehand, using needle nose pliers
for the tight knots and bends. It’s all one piece of wire.
I have the figures mapped out in my head.
The horse is such a vital form. It has infinite variation.
Usually, when I make them, I finish one with
the motivation to make another. My horse, Blue, has
been my primary model. Most of my horses have that
long, lean thoroughbred feel to them.
My mom passed away in 2007, and she left behind a
lot of her work and of her collection of other people’s
work. We did a major celebration of her life and her
work the spring after she died. I’m the one of five
kids that was living at the family home, so it was my
job to clear out her studio. Now, I’m in a transition
back to my own studio, my own work.
I like working with different materials. I’m known
for my wire, but it’s not all I do. You can get locked
into an identity that’s not necessarily complete. Once Tom came out here with his wax, I just
couldn’t keep my hands out of it so I started doing
I’ve worked with batik, and I like to paint, do line
drawings and collage and take photographs. To me,
it’s all the same process with different materials. I
value that diversity of materials and consider flexibility
critical to my creativity. Innovation is the key, and
that requires a great deal of exploration.
As a performing artist, you have to be there, be
physically present as a personality. As a visual artist,
you can do the work and step aside. I prefer to let my
work speak for itself. I’m uncomfortable being in
We bought Blue as a retired racehorse when he was
four. His feet were really a problem. With the help
of a barefoot trimmer, I healed his feet. Now he’s 18
and sound most of the time, though it takes constant
vigilance. I’ve never ridden a finer horse. He
can go anywhere, and he never runs out of energy.
He’s goofy sometimes, when his adrenaline gets going
and he’s wound up.
Down to the Wire – bent wire sculpture