Consider Bison February 2, 2012 | By Jim McNutt
Try as we might, we never quite capture the rustling thunder of hundreds of thousands of shaggy creatures moving across rolling prairie, or the smell of the earth kicked up in their wake. But we believe that such a phenomenon occurred because we can trace it in woodcuts, lithographs, photography, and film, in painting and sculpture.
In every artistic medium, the popularity of bison images has been continuous. Robert Bateman’s Chief remains one of the most popular paintings at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. But in spite of the visual distinctiveness of bison, it may be that the popularity of artwork depicting them results from their emblematic status as a species. Nearly made extinct as the result of human conflict, they represent the choice that people can make between sustainability and the presumed motivation of economic imperatives.