Coyote's suit to Disguise Himself as Me





20 inches by 20 inches by 80 inches height

vintage coyote coats, latex, thread, steel

In Lewis Hyde's book "Trickster Makes This World", he describes the trickster's essence as being the hinge at the edge of chaos. Every culture has its' trickster character, whether it is Coyote or Hermes or the Fool of the tarot; the trickster is the messenger and is also the force that creates clarity through disarray and disorder. Coyote steals from whomever he needs to, to get what he needs for himself and his community. In traditional native american stories and mythology, Coyote-the ultimate trickster entity, tends to "lose" his body often, depending on the task at hand. He is also a master of disguises. The idea of visibility and invisibility is important in this piece, as is the magical concept of "glamour"-the ability to make yourself seen by others in the guise that you choose. In western magic, one would use the guise of the Fool or trickster (agent of chaos) to make one's self invisible, as the Powers-That-Be choose not to see chaos. It's not that you discorporate, it's that you become UNNOTICEABLE. In this piece, Coyote disguises himself as me, as a human being, so that he can "dissappear" into the world of human beings and steal back what needs to be returned to it's origin.

Coyotes are one of the most adaptable creatures on this continent. They are not native to the east coast, but their populations are steadily increasing and moving down the eastern states, after migrating through Canada and breeding with Canadian gray wolves. In general, eastern coyotes tend to be about 50 percent larger than the coyotes that we see in the western states. The first verified account of a coyote in New Hampshire was in 1944. Coyotes are now common into northeastern and mid-atlantic states. Coyotes are a social animal that generally select a life-long mate. Both parents care for the pups, sometimes with the help of older offspring. Coyotes are territorial, and their distinct vocalizations-yipping, barks and howling call the pack back together, warn of a threat, and celebrate returning pack members.

Many of you might remember Hal, the coyote that was captured in New York City's Central Park in March of 2006. It is speculated that he came from upstate New York, where coyotes are now common, traveled through the Bronx along the Hudson River, and crossed into Manhatten either by swimming or taking a railroad bridge over the Harlem River. He was captured, after leading park workers and police on a two-day chase that was highly publicized. He was examined and given medical treatment, and appeared healthy prior to his intended release into California Hill state Forest in Putnam County, New York. Hal died, after a "routine" tagging procedure. The official statement says that he may have died from a heartworm infestation or from hemorraging caused by rat poison. Hal's death has been written about extensively on the web, and the most detailed (and most horrifying) account can be read here.

The suit I made is constructed from the oldest, most vintage coyote coats that I could find on EBAY. I wanted to be sure that these were skins that Coyote was no longer using, and had long since forgotten about. The skins were so deteriorated that when I took out the coat lining, they literally started to disintegrate. I stabilized the skins with about 20 coats of tinted liquid latex, and each part is hand-stitched with cotton thread. I wanted the skin to resemble my own skin, but I think it really looks like a flayed skin, turned inside out, which is something that- according to Coyote stories- Coyote would do to accomplish his wiley tasks.


And what would Hal like to steal?


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2007 Erika Wanenmacher