Held at Corona Ranch in Laveen, Arizona, Art of the Cowgirl 2020 was a huge success, and that was in part due to the one of a kind vendors that were in attendance at the event such as Sammy Jo Bird. Sammy, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, is an accomplished horsewoman and artist whose paintings are set apart by her unique ability to portray the close relationship she has with horses through art.
In this installment of Cowboy Lifestyle Network‘s Women of the Western Industry series, we will learn more about Sammy, her artwork, and the accomplished painter’s advice for women who are interested in starting their own business.
Q: Tell me about how you got your start in the Western Industry.
A: I wasn’t really introduced to the industry, I was born into it. My family is a big rodeo and ranching family. I grew up on a ranch in the Blackfeet Reservation. Horses have always had a huge impact on me and have a special place in my heart. Growing up having the responsibility of horses, cattle, and rodeo kept me out of trouble. For that, I am so thankful. Horses have taught me so much, and that is why I love to paint them.
Q: Talk to me about your artwork and where you draw your inspiration from.
A: My artwork is more to me than a career or source of money. My artwork is a passion that I believe God has put in my heart to make a difference in the lives of others. Before I even start a painting I have to feel inspired or motivated; I do this by reading the Bible, listening to positive podcasts, or just by the events happening around me. After the inspiration hits, I put paint on the canvas and let it flow.
I want my art to be more than something that makes your wall look pretty. I want my paintings to leave a positive impact on whoever takes the time to look at them. That is why I paint with such bright and vibrant colors. Every painting I do comes with a story, prayer, or life lesson and reason why I painted it.
I grind so hard so I can show kids from not just my reservation but every reservation that you can do anything you set your mind to and that it doesn’t matter where you come from, what color your skin is, or how much money you have. You can do anything you put your mind to with hard work and a positive attitude.
Q: What is one of your favorite pieces you’ve painted?
A: My favorite painting is Deep Waters. It’s a newer painting that I painted after the Bible verse Isaiah 43:2, “When you go through deep waters I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown. When you go through fires of oppression, you will not be burned up. The flames will not consume you.”
For me, this painting stands for hope, faith, and the love God has for us. We all go through trials and tribulations, but it’s important to remember that when we are in those deep waters that we are not alone. We have the Creator of the Universe working in our favor.
Q: What accomplishment are you the proudest of to date?
A: My biggest accomplishment to date would be becoming an Indian World Champion in 2016 by winning the Ladies All-Around at the Indian National finals Rodeo (INFR). I competed in both the barrel racing and the ladies breakaway roping and after 4 rounds I earned the title of Ladies All-Around Champion and won a buckle, saddle, and horse trailer. This was such a big accomplishment because I had been competing in the INFR for about 7 years beforehand and hadn’t ever won a world title.
Q: What is the best advice you can give to women who are aspiring to own their own business in the Western Industry?
A: My best advice I can give to women who are aspiring to start or have their own business would be to be resilient. Know your worth and don’t let someone’s opinion of you define you. Use your setbacks as lessons and keep moving forward.
As women we have to work hard to make a mark in this industry, so don’t bring each other down. Root for each other. Throughout your journey, whether it be training horses, painting, or sales, stay passionate, stay humble, and keep a close relationship to God because at the end of the day if everything else fails and goes wrong, He will be your solid foundation to fall back on and help build you back up.
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