Barbed wire is a thin jagged metal line that has had enormous impact on the landscape of the American West. An American invention patented in the 1860’s, barbed wire has been used as lines in space to break up the American West. Put up with no regard, nor respect, for indigenous peoples nor wildlife, barbed wire blocked access to those who once roamed freely, while confining transplanted species that destroyed native plant life. Native Americans soon called barbed wire - “Devil’s Rope”.
Barbed wire is now used all over the world in the most awful places - prisons, refugee encampments, and the like. The fact that barbed wire intends to hurt any body coming into contact with it, that inflicting pain is acceptable to all involved who manufacture, sell and install barbed wire, is amazing to me. My barbed wire sculptures have organic personalities - they look like grass blowing in the wind, like fur or hair, like nests, and groups of trees yielding to Nature’s forces. Others resemble an open book.
My first truck-full of rusty barbed wire came from the Estes Park area in 1991. It is over 100 years old. The Estes Park barbed wire had been strung up, in multiple lines, across an old elk migration path. Every year, for a hundred years, elk would get tangled irretrievably in the strands of wire and suffer slow agonizing deaths. In 1991 a group of volunteers took finally took down the old wire and replaced it with 2 strands of barb-less wire.
Since 1991, I have rounded up truckloads of rusty barbed wire from Southeastern Colorado, where long-time drought resulted in abandoned homesteads,
and from the Hotchkiss/Paonia area, where orchards and fields of hops have replaced a preference for livestock on the land.
These wires are very old. It takes about a century for barbed wire to become rusty, so my wires have many stories to tell.