Looking at Jaime Corum's life, it seems no accident that the 37-year-old Louisville visual artist is becoming one of the region's emerging equine artists. But a mishap did help shape her career's trajectory.
When she was 7 years old, Corum took a scary tumble while riding a neighbor's horse.
"He was a very gentle Tennessee walker," says Corum, whose work is on display at New Editions Gallery in Lexington. "Some boys had been galloping him before, and that's what he thought I wanted him to do. He sort of took off, and the saddle flipped. I got caught underneath him and so I broke my femur and punctured a lung."
Corum's family witnessed the frightening spectacle and so tabled the idea of riding horses until Corum was older.
Never miss a local story.
After her accident, Corum took her obsession with horses to paper and began drawing them over and over, a pastime that accompanied her devotion to the book and film versions of Black Stallion.
"I had to be persistent and almost in a way prove how devoted to the horse I was," Corum says.
Having proven her devotion, Corum was allowed back in the saddle when she was 11 and has been riding ever since.
"I knew even as a child it wasn't the horse's intention to hurt me, so it never frightened me," Corum says of her return to riding.
She was an active member of Spring Run Stables in Prospect, competing in jumping and dressage throughout high school before turning her focus back to art in college. She earned an undergraduate art degree from Bellarmine University, then went to graduate school at the University of Kentucky.
During her formal studies, Corum explored subjects and techniques outside the realm of equine art.
"I am glad I was able to develop myself as an artist independent of the horse," she says. "I experimented, learned about art in its various contexts and who I was as an artist."
After wrapping up her higher education, Corum began teaching art at Bellarmine.
"I was thoroughly in the art world for a couple years before I started hearing the call of the barn again," she says. "I started hanging out there again, going to shows. Before too long I was riding some."
Then she met Sandy. She fell in love with the horse, who happened to be for sale. "I couldn't afford him by myself," she says. So she bought him with a partner and, to finance her share, began drawing portraits of friends' horses for extra cash. Portraits led to paintings. Paintings led to shows in places like Louisville's Brown Hotel.
Corum's horse riding and equine art interdependently sparked a comeback and a serious career.
Frankie York, owner of New Editions Gallery, which doesn't regularly feature equine artists, cites Corum as one of the most talented young equine artists working in the region.
"What makes her unique is her ability to capture the emotional presence of the horse," York says. "She also has incredible technique, particularly in her use of light and movement."
Corum's oil on canvas paintings are crisply wrought and could be considered more artistically dynamic than conventional equine art, occasionally incorporating mythology or idealized images of horses. That's the case with the lush crimson piece The Red Tapestry, which features a mysterious, bold horse profile draped in medieval tapestry.
"Many equine artists do a very specific theme of a very literal situation," Corum says, "but I like to expand the idea of the situation and be more open to interpretation so that there's a little mystery left to the viewer."