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 Stanley James Herd  (1950 - )

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Lived/Active: Kansas      Known for: large-scale earth art, Indian portrait

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Stanley James Herd
An example of work by Stanley James Herd
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information was submitted by Fred W. McCraw, a business adviser and consultant to the artist, September 2002.

Stanley James Herd was born August 19, 1950 in southwest Kansas near the town of Protection, a stone's throw from the Oklahoma panhandle. He and his five siblings learned early on about the vagaries of farming in an arid zone.

From a boyhood in Comanche County, Herd developed life-long interests in Native American history and Indian lore, interests that have sometimes influenced his own artworks as a "Crop Artist."

His field portrait of Saginaw Grant and his collaborative work with Haskell Indian Nations University faculty and students on The Medicine Wheel are two examples.

Herd attended art school at Wichita State University, before launching a career as both an indoor and outdoor muralist in Dodge City, Kansas. There, Herd conceived of and executed his first field art projects, 160-acre portraits of Chief Satanta, and Will Rogers, both of which drew national attention in such publications as the National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines.  With those images, Herd had "fathered" a new art form that has flourished within the broader category of earthwork art.

Herd relocated in the early '80s to Lawrence, Kansas where he lives today (2002). He gained international press and other media attention with his first Lawrence project, a 16-acre vase of sunflowers on a quilt-like tablecloth. Sunflower Field established Herd's reputation. It was followed soon after by a Cezannesque Still Life in Lincoln, Nebraska and two regionalist images in New York City and in Iowa City, Iowa. The regionalist scenes were in the painting styles of Thomas Hart Benton (New York) and Grant Wood (Iowa). These were one-acre and five-acre fields respectively.

While producing occasional commercial images on large fields in England, Australia and California, Herd has continued to produce fine art fields in such disparate places as Havana, Cuba, in Atchison and Salina Kansas, and elsewhere. He also has painted large murals in a number of Midwestern cities while producing oil paintings, and fine art prints depicting, at times, abstractions and unusual perspectives of his field works.

In 1994, Herd authored Crop Art and Other Earthworks, a history of his field projects, published by Harry N. Abrams in New York.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The body of work produced since the Santanta portrait in 1980 includes several portraits, followed by still lives, and pictorial landscapes which, in the artists view, became less dependent on subject matter and more relevant as a platform for discussing mankind and agriculture's evolving dangerous relationship to the earth.

Environmental activist Wes Jackson from the Kansas Land Institute in Salina, embraced Herd's work as a tool exemplifying his call for a new sustainable approach to agriculture and consumerism. Jackson observed that the power of Herd's work stems from the fact that it draws on people from diverse disciplines to create a tool for change.

"I left art school with a fascination for non-representational work but realized that I could find no place for it in my earthworks. Viewing the earth from airplanes made it clear to me that abstract imagery is a natural byproduct of the processes of farming and mining.  I noticed a link to the abstract expressionists and minimalists simply by looking down at the patterns in the plowed fields.  This realization made creating abstract earthworks somehow redundant."
Stan Herd, March 1999

"All over the world farmers draw with the plow, harrow, and harvesting combine, and paint with the colors of their crops... some of these (fields) rival the mystery of prehistoric ground drawings; others conjure up the tumultuous abstractions of modern canvases."

"Stan Herd's clover field still life is art for art's sake."
Georg Gerster, Amber Waves of Grain, 1990

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