Thursday, April 21, 2011

Camera Phone Heresies: Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse Mountain Memorial, scultpted from an original model by Korczak Ziolkowski
Crazy Horse, South Dakota, April 2011

Of course, no camera phone could ever do justice to Korczak's immense mountain, which has since 1948 been transformed into a man and his horse.  But then, no camera could do full justice to this larger-than-life labor of love. This amazing rendition of the Lakota warrior Crazy Horse is a work in progress, still approximately five decades away from completion.

Located just miles from the famed Mount Rushmore, which Korczak was apprentice to Gutzon Borglum on in the late 1930s, Crazy Horse Mountain dwarfs the Presidential busts.  Indeed, all flour faces could fit inside of Crazy Horse's head. To understand the height and breadth of Crazy Horse Mountain, consider that it is taller than the Washington Monument and broader than the Great Pyramids and Giza.

What most impresses me about Korczak Ziolkowski was that ever since Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear invited him in 1939 to carve Crazy Horse's likeness, not one penny of government money has gone to support its construction.  On principle, Ziolkowski refused a $10 million offer from the Federal Government to "help" him sculpt his mountain.  The Boston native was a rugged New England individualist, in the mold of Emerson, and didn't believe in sticking his hand out.  He knew that there's nothing "free" about government money, and that it always comes with strings attached.  He probably also knew that in the case of his sacred mission, it would be blood money he was accepting.