The Sculptor’s Workshop & Sun Room
Just as the Paha Sapa has long been a place of convergence, a coming together, Crazy Horse Memorial has, since its beginning, been a place of convergence – of people, of cultures, of stories, and of dreams. A great many facets of this convergence are still represented in the sculptor’s workshop and sun room (named for the multiple windows built into the space).
Within the workshop and sun room, which Korczak and Ruth built in 1962 and which remain an integral part of the visitor’s complex to this day, visitors experience an eclectic mix of work and narratives. Beyond an unassuming exterior, visitors encounter an extraordinary interior that holds displays representing a large swath of the history of Crazy Horse Memorial. The items found within, comprised of a variety of wood, bronze, marble and casts, are projects that the sculptor continued to work on in the winter months when he could not work on the mountain. One item that is housed here is the wooden toolbox that Korczak made when he was just 18. This piece, rather simple, functional, and unadorned, represents a young artist who was readying his tools for a lifetime of creation, and, little did he know, readying himself for taking on a carving project of an unprecedented scale. Surrounding the toolbox is a large mix of his other works – some which took a handful of days to create, others that took months to create, and still others that were works in progress when the sculptor passed on in 1982.
Also, displayed in the workshop are items that consistently peak the curiosity of visitors. One such item is a full-sized, original Concord Stagecoach that Korczak acquired in a trade for some of his work. After bringing the coach back to the Memorial, Korczak and children Monique and Adam worked tirelessly to restore the coach. Likewise, this piece represents the beginning of the next generation of the Ziolkowski family who would dedicate their lives to Crazy Horse Memorial and would step up to take on various duties related to the humanitarian project. Other items include the drums and costumes which hang in the workshop to represent the Noah Webster Fife and Drum and Corps – a group of young folks who made the journey from Connecticut to help Korczak in the beginning – among these was Ruth Ross. In addition, there are displayed portraits of several individuals who were special to the sculptor – like Pete Lien, a close, long-time friend of the sculptor. Also, among these portraits is the portrait of Henry Standing Bear – a bronze of the carving that the sculptor presented to President John F. Kennedy after the Chief’s passing. This piece sits near the entrance of the workshop – reminding all those who enter of the promise that the sculptor made to his Lakota friend and of the humble beginnings of the work on Crazy Horse Memorial. Accordingly, as weather and the seasons would permit, the latter part of the 1960’s would see increased progress on the mountain . . .
This article is the fifteenth installment of a periodic chronology that will be published by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation on the history of the Memorial.
By: Dr. Jason Murray for the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation