By Chelsea Tyler
As Carl Mosher delicately stroked his brush across the bison, outlining the courthouse and occasionally peering down at a picture of it in a magazine, the remaining parts of the timeline started coming together.
Bob the Bison, Steuben County’s contribution to the Bison-tennial Art Project and purchased by the Steuben County Tourism Bureau, will be a tribute to the county’s heritage and history.
Each county in Indiana is designing their own bison statue for Indiana’s Bicentennial birthday, commemorating 200 years of state history.
Steuben County’s bison features traditional Native American history, as well as historic and iconic landmarks in a timeline that wraps around the entire 100-pound fiberglass bison.
Carl Mosher, Bison-tennial artist for Steuben County, said the timeline he is creating for the statue will date back 10,000 years, depicting a transition from the pioneer era to modern day.
On one side of Bob, the timeline begins with a scene featuring rolling hills and bison scattered on the plain. It continues on to show Native Americans standing in the distance and observing the buffalo while being surrounded by forestation.
Yellow, red and white handprints are near the bison’s head to showcase Native American history in the county.
Mosher said a white calf will be added to the back left leg of the bison, which is symbolic in meaning.
According to legendsofamerica.com, white calves are a symbol of peace in times of trouble.
The legend dates back to more than 2,000 years ago when the native people “had lost the ability to communicate with the Creator.” The Creator sent White Buffalo Calf Woman to teach the people how to pray.
The site said a prophecy was given that the White Buffalo Woman would return after four ages to “restore harmony and spirituality to a troubled land.”
As the White Buffalo Woman was leaving the people, she sat down and became a black bison, arose and changed into a yellow bison, walked farther and transformed into a red bison, and finally rose as a white buffalo calf.
According to the site, this fulfilled the prophecy and “remains ever promising in this age of spiritual enlightenment and conscious awareness.”
Another feature of Bob the Bison that represents peace and harmony is the mandala painted onto the statue’s head. The horns are painted with black, red, yellow and white stripes, which represent the four directions – north, south, east and west.
Mosher said the biggest challenge with this art project has been “getting everything to balance and flow seamlessly.”
However, it is this challenge of creating an effortlessly evolving timeline that Mosher said he is most excited about.
“I think it’s really cool that people like my spin on the timeline,” he said. “I tried to put enough details to make [it] interesting.”
These details especially can be seen on the opposite side of the bison. The mural shifts from a farmhouse and cabin scene to the Potawatomi Inn, where people enjoying the hotel and Pokagon State Park are painted into the surroundings.
The last visuals included in the mural are the mound and courthouse, tying together Steuben County’s past with its present.
While the project celebrates Steuben County’s history, Mosher will add a little personal touch to the bison by including a tiny mouse somewhere on the statue.
“I always put a mouse in my murals,” he said, “and challenge people to find it.”