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California Women Artists

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Untitled (Coyotes)

21st Century
13 in. x 31 in. x 12 in. (33.02 cm x 78.74 cm x 30.48 cm)

Kathryn Spence, American, b. 1963

Object Type: Sculpture and Decorative Arts
Creation Place: North America, United States, California
Medium and Support: Sweaters, shirts, towels, stuffed animals, wood, pins, colored paper
Credit Line: Gift of the Steven Wirtz Gallery and Artist
Accession Number: 2014.19.b
For many North American indigenous peoples, the coyote is mythologically known as the trickster; changing form between animal and human, and generally creating mischief. Working in the medium of found materials, Mills College alumna Kathryn Spence repurposes thrift store towels, sweaters, shirts, and stuffed animals into her creations. She “tricks” the viewer with the visual conundrum of identifying an animal form, yet we recognize its composition to be that of manmade materials. In nature, the coyote is known as a scavenger animal, getting its sustenance through the work and effort of others. The utilization of recycled materials through her artistic practice embodies the essence and behavior of the coyote.

Spence’s piece addresses issues of social justice in how we relate with animals and the greater environment, as well as ethical questions of how we operate as a consume-and-discard culture; a behavioral choice that has consequences for our world and all of its living creatures. The act of creating anew from that which has been abandoned as unusable speaks to the power we have in our daily lives to make a palpable impact on the world around us.

--Marilyn Claes, December 2016

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