Leonard Yellow Horse

 čháŋ kaskú

At a very young age I knew I was an artist. I used to draw cartoons for the Red Shirt Smoke Signal. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be a sculptor. Art runs in the blood on both sides of my family. Whether a person is a painter, cartoonist or Lakota powwow dancer, does beadwork, jewelry, quillwork, or quilting, anyone can be an artist as long as they stick with it.

Leonard is self-taught and began working with cottonwood in 1991. He has been a valued contributing member of Seven Fires Art since it began in 2014. His cottonwood carvings are featured on the Seven Fires Art web site as well as in popular galleries in the Black Hills and the Southwest United States. Leonard also does larger tree carvings as well as construction work when he is not in the studio. He hopes to someday create a gathering place for artists on his property on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Leonard especially enjoys honoring the Yellow Horse family tradition of teaching the intricacies of wood carving to his children and grandchildren.

My work is calling from the Elders who want to be seen again, but through the roots. It’s not what I put into the root; the root has a voice and a character of its own. No two pieces are the same. Each piece is unique.

His distinctive figures are carved from cottonwood root sourced from dry riverbeds on the Pine Ridge Reservation, in the Badlands, and elsewhere. The unique characteristics of each piece of wood dictate the attributes of each figure. Hand carved with details added using a torch tool, each piece is signed with the artist's distinctive signature. Leonard was born in 1971 in Chadron, Nebraska and has lived most of his life in South Dakota. He currently lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with his wife Lisa Marie and their three children and two grandchildren.