Adorned bison skulls create trailblazing art of the new West
By Alison Isaacs
Photographs by Ben Hanawalt
Stone Bailey grabs the bull by the horns as she breaks away from the world of flat art with her magnificently embellished bison skulls. Edgy and experimental, Bailey incorporates unexpected elements to create a work of art that catches the eye and captivates the spirit.
She believes, “The bison has a heart connection to the American West.” Her commemoration to this proud symbol of strength is adorned in funky patterns and blazed with gold. To her, it’s a much-overdue homage paid to this impressive beast sacrificed in the name of progress and expansion. The magnificence of the creatures’ bones captures your attention, while her daring style draws you in. Bailey’s art is as wild as the landscape and as hip as the scene of Bozeman, Montana, the place she calls home.
Hailing from Ruston, Louisiana, Bailey graduated with a degree in interior design from Louisiana Tech University. She refined her creative style working as an interior designer at a contemporary European furniture studio in Dallas. Although never formally trained in fine art, her study of art history, design and architecture inspire her current creations. A modern Italian style, elaborate fabric patterns and couture fashion influence are evident in her color-blocked bison with nouveaux adornments. Bold patterns, floral and rhinestone bling, and pop spiritual motifs adorn the sun-bleached bones that are a classic symbol of life and death in the harsh and alluringly wild West. “Geometric lines draw you in; the emotional connection keeps you there,” she explains.
Bailey started dabbling in art with oil on canvas as an outlet for the creative energies swelling up inside the insatiable heart of this young interior designer. Her need for experimentation and unbridled expression was further sparked when a friend purchased a bison skull and asked her to paint it.
“It’s beautiful before I even touch it,” she praises. “It’s a piece of art already, I just give it a personality.” The differentiated textures — porous to slick impermeable bone — deep fissures and three-dimensional features make Bailey’s once-living canvas a challenge she never faced before. Her steady hand and keen eye for perspective is evident as the geometric patterns are aesthetically pleasing at any angle. The final product: a surreal and enlightening motif, a fabulously funky expansion to the art of the modern West.
If you come across a fantastically clad skull and are wondering if it is an S.S.B original, look for the brass pistol. Chic and edgy like the artist herself, the trademark can be found deviously hidden or intricately incorporated into the piece.
Stone’s Bones can be found at The Architect’s Wife, an interior design studio and showroom in downtown Bozeman, Montana.