Grant Standard - Interview
“The Lakota people had a very good understanding of yin versus yang, good versus bad, and darkness versus light,” says sculptor Grant Standard. This Is Not A Shield represents this duality in the world. The sculpture is part of Standard’s series that is inspired by what humans share in the spiritual realm. Standard believes that we are more alike than different, and that in celebrating our similarities we have more opportunities to reach shared understandings.
“This Is Not A Shield is part of traditional Lakota symbolism,” he explains. “This piece represents lightning, hail, dragonfly, elk and buffalo—all of which are connected to the clouds. When you understand and embrace darkness and light, you can heal.”
This sculpture, weighing in at 100 pounds, and took Standard three or four months to create, is very typical of Standard’s work and is inspired by cultures and customs. “I like the similarities I find in different cultures,” he says. “Often they remind us of journeys at once personal and universal.” His artistic work has long been inspired by his spiritual experiences and his heritage; Celtic and Native American themes are evident in many of his pieces.
Like these rich traditions, Standard says bronze has an ancient history—nearly unchanged for thousands of years—that connects deeply to his work style. “It has to do with what is ancient and what is modern,” he says. “Working with bronze is like stepping back in time, both with my hands and with my place in the world. I feel that through bronze I can look back, in order to go forward.” His most recent work, including This Is Not A Shield, focuses on “what we all share” as people. Both figurative and abstract pieces explore the human experience-and our experience with what is greater.
Standard says he knew he wanted to work in bronze in college. “I had always done art,” he says. “In college I majored in Graphic Design but I learned really fast I didn’t want to do that. So I changed my major to Fine Art and then I worked in a foundry right after college. I’ve been doing bronze for 25 years.” Along with being a bronze sculptor, Standard is a master metal finisher. In 2006 he and his wife opened a fine art foundry in Hill City, South Dakota, Black Hills Bronze, which is the region’s only foundry.