Coyote Leaves the Res: The Art of Harry Fonseca
May 19, 2019–January 5, 2020
The Autry: George Montgomery Gallery
About the Exhibition
Featuring paintings, sketches, and lithographs, Coyote Leaves the Res: The Art of Harry Fonseca focuses on the recurring figure of Coyote, a trickster, shape shifter, and storyteller capable of moving undetected between different worlds. This exhibition explores the complexity of Harry Fonseca’s (Nisenan Maidu, Hawaiian, Portuguese, 1946–2006) art within the context of a contemporary world, in which new freedoms and old biases often exist side-by-side. As both a gay man and a person of mixed heritage, Fonseca used his work as a vehicle for self-discovery a means of navigating different aspects of his life and identity during a time when ideas about Native peoples were often driven by outside forces, including commercial markets, tourism, and historical clichés.
Fonseca was an instrumental force in reshaping Native art with his trademark blend of traditional imagery, contemporary experience, and vibrant color and form. As he used his art to explore both his personal journey and the role of history in shaping Native consciousness in the present, Fonseca sought to expand definitions of American Indian art and to shatter the expectations and stereotypes that had long confined it.