Larger Than Life

Marrita Black, the artistic force behind APHA headquarters’ iconic bronze horses, uses her keen attention to detail to showcase the modern Paint Horse.

By Alana Harrison

The band of brilliantly colored bronze Paint Horses charging down Mule Alley in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards appear immortalized in time as they beckon visitors from around the globe to APHA’s international headquarters.

Marrita Black’s larger-than-life-size bronze sculpture “Legacy of Color,” depicting two flashy Paint mares with a colorful foal in tow and a stallion encouraging them from behind, has been representing APHA since the Gainesville, Texas, artist created the piece for the association’s 40th anniversary in 2002.

The iconic landmark, weighing in at three tons, greeted guests in front of APHA’s former headquarters on Meacham Boulevard in east Fort Worth for almost 20 years before it was relocated to the association’s new home in 2019.

Equipped with a keen artistic eye and a lifetime of riding, showing and observing horses, Marrita designs her sculptures with such intricate craftmanship and lifelike details, her equine subjects appear as if they might thunder down their bronze armatures at any moment.

From the exquisite curves of the horses’ muscles to the artistry of the leg and hoof placement that creates the illusion of movement, no detail is too small for the sculptor.

“Horses are as individual as people. They all have different expressions and ways of carrying themselves,” Marrita said. “You have to know what’s underneath the surface to sculpt realistically.”

Throughout her life, Marrita felt a deep—yet somehow faraway—connection with her artistic instincts, but the talented sculptor might never have found her palette if it hadn’t been for a fortuitous trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1991. The art-centric city’s extensive collection of horse sculptures and artworks inspired the artist-in-waiting to at last pursue her passion.

“Most of the pieces were more representative of the Old West culture from almost two centuries ago,” Marrita noted. “I found the depictions exquisite, but my goal in sculpting was to create pieces that commemorate our modern horses.”

Whether she’s creating a tabletop-size piece for a customer or a commissioned life-and-a-quarter-size bronze, Marrita’s work is perpetually fueled by her passion for bringing her art to life and helping others connect with the equine spirit.


This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Winter 2022 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.