Tiny Totem #4 – Study for Totem #5 – Stacked Coyotes and Ravens
This is the fourth in my ongoing “Tiny Totem” series. These pieces are small, reductive versions of my larger “Totem” series, intended to explore similar concepts distilled into the barest essentials. Modern reinterpretations of the Native American Totem Poles of the Pacific Northwest, these pieces offer impossible arrangements of common animals and birds. Isolated from their natural environments and portrayed in a whimsical, tension-filled, and surreal context, the viewer is challenged to reconsider the subjects in a new light. Native Americans traditionally used animals as potent symbols for their own human talents, frailties, fears, and desires, and despite the distance we have placed between ourselves and the natural world today, animals still play just as significant a role in our daily lives, from logos to add campaigns. These pieces ask the viewer to explore what wildlife means in today’s world, to consider the fragile balance we strike in our own lives between man and beast, and to ponder the plight of a natural world teetering on collapse.
This piece was originally a color study for the much larger “Totem #5” Stacked Coyotes & Ravens,” and was inspired by one of my favorite birds, the omnipresent raven. Though these birds can be encountered almost anywhere, they never cease to amaze and entertain me with their antics, intelligence, and brash attitudes. The bold color palette is far more a response to the loud personalities of these marvelous birds than to any “local color” suggested by their plumage.