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Deborah Masuoka

Haymarket Rabbits


MATERIALS: Silicon Bronze
DIMENSIONS: Sculpture 1: Height 92 inches; Length 72 inches; Width 22 inches; Sculpture 2: Height 92 inches; Length 70 inches; Width 21 inches; Sculpture 3: Height 92 inches; Length 70 inches; Width 21 inches
DATE: 2007
LOCATION: Main Street and Pearl Street in the historic Haymarket District of downtown Council Bluffs

For the past 20 years, I have used the rabbit image or more specifically the rabbit head to explore complex human emotions. By simplifying the rabbit image to just its head, I am able to explore the maximum amount of meanings within a minimum amount of information given to the viewer. The head alone merely suggests to the viewer that there is something more than what is visible.

The large scale of each sculpture creates an ironic twist, by taking a typical prey animal (rabbit) and transforming it into the predator. The rabbit then becomes the intimidator, which opens up the opportunity to explore preconceived ideas of what certain images represent.

Once explored, the sculptures embrace deeper issues such as vulnerability, security, intimidation and protection. Visually each sculpture has two distinct sides and at times may appear to be somewhat contradictory. The paradox created through this relationship defines each issue separately but at the same time cohesively inhabiting a single entity.

With the use of bright and muted colors, narrative and abstract drawings, each sculpture reveals profound meanings within a simple and recognizable form. As a result, the rabbit head becomes a visual source for emotional content and visual splendor.

The colors in each piece are based on patina chemicals in various proportions. Each sculpture is painted with liver of sulfur. The top layer is treated with titanium oxide, ferric nitrate, cupric nitrate, methylene blue, red iron oxide and silver nitrate.


Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Deborah Masuoka earned her BFA from Wayne State University and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Masuoka is particularly well-known for her large-scale “Rabbit Head” sculptures, which she paints in stone-like colors such as cobalt blue, green, rust, burnt orange and yellow.

Masuoka is a nationally exhibited sculptor. Her work is featured in numerous private and public art collections. Three of her cast bronze rabbit head sculptures, which were purchased through the Art in State Buildings program, were added to the Stafford Arboretum in Iowa State University’s Reiman Gardens.

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