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Richard Greeves is both an artist and historian, visionary and explorer.His interest in Lewis and Clark and their historic journey dates back to his childhood. Born in St. Louis, Greeves grew up with access to the large depository of Lewis and Clark memorabilia at the Missouri Historical Society. As a kid, he “haunted the place” until the museum staff gave him small jobs to do and turned him into an amateur historian. He knows by heart the dates, places and events from reading the expedition journals. He has travelled the route and researched the landscape and tribes Lewis and Clark encountered along the way.
His art is informed by a deep understanding of America’s past, but also its present. Greeves has lived over 60 years in Fort Washakie on Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation and brings an appreciation and awareness of the native cultures he strives to portray. The historical research and attention to detail in every bronze offers the viewer a glimpse of the dress, tools, weapons, and customs of the tribes 200 years ago. Greeves captures the natural dignity and spirit of these individuals, but also their grace and beauty. The work not only reflects a fiercely resilient people, but also bears witness to a culture about to undergo radical change. The expedition was the beginning of the opening of the western frontier.
A self-taught artist, Greeves credits his Italian ancestry, which included many stone masons and tile cutters, for his sculpting ability. Greeves states, “When I work in clay, I usually pile it on and whittle it away. I had an Italian uncle who was a kiln master, and as a kid, I would harvest some mud, sculpt it and tuck it in the corner of the kiln. Heck, I’ve been firing terra cotta all my life.” Greeves has created a series of bronzes that are both detailed and accurate, sympathetic and compelling, bringing a new perspective to the greatest expedition ever undertaken in the history of this country. These works bring a fresh awareness of the native peoples directly impacted by a pivotal period in our nation’s history.