Published June 2, 2019
LOS ANGELES — Coyote Leaves the Res: The Art of Harry Fonseca features paintings, sketches, and lithographs by Harry Fonseca (Nisenan Maidu, Hawaiian, Portuguese, 1946–2006). The 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 art within the context of a contemporary world, in which new freedoms and old biases often exist side-by-side.
Harry Fonseca, Coyote’s Wild & Woolly West Show #1, 1987. Acrylic on paper. © 2016 Harry Fonseca Collection, Autry Museum; 2016.10.7
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.