Once introduced, the horse quickly became central to Great Plains Indians’ life. They were a measure of wealth and, interestingly, an individual’s prestige was judged not so much by how many horses he could accumulate, but by the number of horses he could give away. Horses served as universal currency and horse stealing was part of the marking of time. (Crazy Horse, the Oglala Lakota, was born “in the fall of the year in which the band to which he belonged, the Oglala, stole One Hundred Horses.” Crow Dog, another Lakota subchief, was born at Horse Stealing Creek in what was then referred to as Montana Territory.) Horse stealing was a rite of passage. A boy on his first war party was given a juvenile nickname, but after he had stolen his first horse or killed an enemy, he was given a distinguished name.
“This small horse raiding party of Lakota has just successfully captured a bunch of good horses from their neighboring enemy, the Crow,” says Z.S. Liang. When pressed for more, the artist adds. “The viewer is meant to create their own story about what has happened,” says Liang, “Some of the best stories are those not told.”
Z.S. Liang was born in China and raised in a family of artists. He studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in Guangzhou. Liang furthered his art study in the United States in 1982.He earned his BFA in painting at Massachusetts College of Arts in 1986 and his MFA in Painting at Boston University in 1989.
Liang received his great inspiration in this country while studying and painting the Wampanoag Indian culture at the outdoor Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This newfound interest fired his imagination, and he began to focus his painting primarily on Native American Indian cultures and their traditional ways of life. During the ensuring years of field research, he has made many connections and friends among Native tribes from the East coast to the Rocky Mountains. Liang’s obvious passion for the Indians as a people, coupled with his emphasis on historical accuracy, adds strength and truth to his portrayals.
Among the many awards Liang has received are the President’s Award for Excellence. Oil Painters of America, 2005; Best of Show Award and People’s Choice Award, the American Society of Portrait Artists, 1998; the Arthur Ross Award for Painting, Classical America, New York, 1992; and the Lila Acheson Award for Painting, the Society of American Illustrators. 1986.
Liang has been invited to participate the Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale in Autry National Center every year since 2005. His works have been featured in Art of the West, South West Art, Western Art Collectors, Artists and International Artists Magazines.