The American cowboy is described by historians as a person of simple tastes and few possessions. Mignery fit this description in 1963 when he left the U.S. Army carrying his only belongings, a guitar and a saddle, bent on becoming an artist. Mignery was raised on the Mignery ranch near Bartlet, Nebraska. The Mignery clan had made their living by ranching for 110 years, and it was naturally assumed that Herb would continue in that tradition. As it turned out, he did, but with a special twist to the tale. He is indeed a great cowboy, but is also a talented sculptor of character types of the historic West.
Mignery's subjects are usually a bit haggard as a result of the difficult lives they have lead. The figures have a certain elegance and sense of classical composure in spite of the fact that they are not idealized. Farmers and ranchers have large, rough hands that have seen many hours of labor, and weathered but friendly faces. Details and accoutrements tell us about the subjects, their profession, and their lives, so that each sculpture completes a piece of the story of life in the West. The beauty of imperfections is what we see, for it is the imperfections that reveal the hidden tales of the figures' lives.
Mignery is one of those down-to-earth people whom everyone finds charming. He says, "One of my goals in life, as a chronicler, is to tell the story of people like those I grew up with--people who spend their whole lives in a 10-mile radius, who have stories that should be shown to the world. I look at their faces and I see such stories. I see so much anguish, heartache, happiness and every other emotion right in their own little world. I see myself as a vehicle to let their stories be known. I also want to show the world that the cowboy is not dead. There are cowboys today, just like there were cowboys yesterday."
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Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas. Site last updated January 2004.