Cowboys and Indians Magazine
Sunti Pichetchaiyakul, a native Thai sculptor, has always been fascinated by the American West. But, he explains, “it was not until I moved to America that I learned more about the Native Americans’ struggle to preserve their freedom and traditional ways of life. I felt compelled to share their stories with the world.” Sunti recently unveiled “Legends of the Americas,” a series of bronze busts honoring the men and women who made an impact on the American continent. Beginning the series with Native American Chiefs, Sunti eventually intends to sculpt pioneers, cowboys, women of the west, and even outlaws, lawmen, presidents, and inventors.
He relishes the artistic challenge of sculpting historic figures. “I believe humans are the most difficult subjects to sculpt, which is precisely why I specialize in recreating people,” Sunti says. His words choice is deliberate: From the scar above Chief Joseph’s lip to Chief Sitting Bull[s birthmark, Sunti painstakingly recreates an exact likeness of the individual. However, no two busts of the same individual are alike. The head may be tilted slightly in one edition but looking straight ahead in another. Jewelry may be altered or patinas changed. Sunti’s designs even allow the individual to change the appearance of a bust. Chief Joseph’s feathers are removable so the collector can alternate between displaying the Chief in his classic headdress or wearing his unforgettable earrings.
The realistic busts imitate the chiefs in more than physical terms. As Sunti points out, “My sculptures portray the chiefs’ emotions, personality, and struggle in their faces. I strived to create a very assertive, fearless, and clever Chief Sitting Bull, while Chief Joseph appears proud, yet more passive and sorrowful.” Standing in the presence of these lifelike busts allows the viewer to absorb a sense of each chief’s character, body language, and spirit, making the experience as much about history and veneration as art appreciation.