DURANGO — Culture and history have always fascinated Star Liana York.

So when a minister from the Laguna Pueblo Reservation west of Albuquerque invited her to follow a map someone had drawn for him on a napkin to a remote area of the reservation with pictographs, she leapt at the opportunity.

What she found changed her sculptures.

"It was an amphitheater with a huge dear painted," York said.

She estimated the pictographs were around 8 feet tall.

The image stuck with her.

"I wanted to give it new life in a sculpture," she said.

That sculpture turned into a series, and York began looking at other pictographs for her sculptures.

York will be presenting her sculptures from 5 to 8 p.m. on April 4 at the Sorrel Sky Gallery in Durango, Colo.

The gallery's marketing coordinator Margaret Hedderman said it is rare for the gallery to give an out-of-state artist her own show.

However, the gallery made an exception for York, who lives in Santa Fe, and decided to feature her in the annual spring show.

In 1994, York decided to visit New Zealand to look at Maori tattoos, which she later used in some of her sculptures.

While in the airport, she saw a Time magazine announcing the discovery of a cave in southern France with cave paintings. She visited the caves in the mid-1990s, and since then, she has based a lot of her horse sculptures off the cave paintings she saw there.

York's sculptures range in size from a few inches tall to monuments. The largest sculpture she created was an 18-foot study of an Arabian stallion.

Throughout her career, York has won various awards.

However, she said the most important one was when she won first place — two different times — at the National Sculpture Society in New York City.

The first time, she won for a sculpture called Bridling a Pegasus, which depicted the Greek hero Bellerophon putting a bridle on Pegasus.

The second time, she won for her sculpture, called Postal Exchange, of two pony express riders during the hand-off.

York grew up on the East Coast, where her father was a woodworker. She was about 5 when she her father let her draw pictures of animals on pieces of wood. She then used jigsaws to cut out the animals and filed and painted them, making her first three-dimensional artwork.

In high school, a teacher had a centrifugal caster, which is often used to create jewelry and dentures. York began using the caster to make gold and silver miniatures. She won awards for her them, and a gallery owner began to display them.

York said she moved from to New Mexico in search of foundries — factories that produce metal castings. The East Coast had only a few that were in such high demand that they could not produce the casting quickly. When she saw that Santa Fe had five major foundries, she decided to move. Immediately, York said she identified with New Mexico and felt more at home than back east.

"It's amazingly mysterious and beautiful," she said.

Hannah Grover may be reached at hgrover@daily-times.com; 505-564-4652. Follow her on Twitter www.twitter.com/hmgrover.