Meet Our Artist


Deb Lee Carson

In the mid 1990’s I was working on a beef ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where I lived in a primitive (emphasis on primitive) cabin in a ‘holler’ surrounded on one side by the Jefferson National Forest and the ranch on the other!  

Spring arrived and along with it tiny, pink flowers called Spring Beauties carpeting the forest floor and their casual, exquisite beauty compelled me to borrow my boss’s old Pentax K1000, a small, manual film camera. Seeking to capture the flora of that Appalachia region, along with the mountain people who still lived as they did in the 30’s and the passion for photography had begun. 

Behind the camera I stumbled on an outlet for creative expression, providing the ability to share a perspective of how the world looks through my view-finder, no words; the only language needed, the viewers open heart and their own life experience. The lens has become a respite from the pressures of daily life—while capturing beauty in the seldom witnessed events which have become my subject of study.

A story often shared by my mother, is she rode horse while pregnant with me and I assume that is where the deep bond with a horse began, but that’s the silly romantic in me.  There is no denying they have been solace during troubled times and a lasting souvenir of the exquisite scenes life offers and I try to capture that in my images.  Growing up on that dairy farm in southeastern Minnesota, surrounded by the horses my mother rode, and the cattle we had to milk, instilled an unwavering respect for the land, a tough work ethic, a fierce independence, a love of the wildness, and an undying attachment to those four-legged creatures with flowing manes, flaring nostrils, and large, undeniable eyes.

My subject matter, the wild ones (horses) are wrapped in the silence of the vast, desert range, their freedom bound only to the next sip of water, the next nibble of forage, unfettered only by the relentless watch for rogue stallions, or where to lie down to give birth to new life. The silence of the wilds, it is hard to find in the cacophony of civilization.

My work has become about exploring the vastness of the natural landscape, capturing the poetic, raw intensity the horse offers and investigating their elements of beauty, strength and social structure. On a formal level these images are about light, space, form, movement and scale. On an informal level my work is about seeing the everyday beauty in their natural surroundings, about exploring time, place, memory and change.

The story behind the image and the final piece of art are a medium and tool to give back to that romantic subject matter, to raise awareness for all horses, but specifically for America’s living heritage—the wild horses whose ancestors carried American’s from sea to sea.

Work by Deb

Find Deb's Art in Medora

Throughout her residency, you can find her art showcased in the Harold Schafer Heritage Center from 10 am - 5 pm daily.