Photograph by Aaron Johanson

Companion Species (Canopy), 2016

Companion Species (Canopy),
96 × 163 in.
Reclaimed wool blankets, thread, embroidery floss
Collection of Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
Indianapolis, IN
Sewn in community at The High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon in May 2016
Photograph by Aaron Johanson

Seneca and Haudenosaunee (People of the Long House) people believe animals to be our First Teachers. From this viewpoint, it is interesting to consider how other cultures hold their relationship with animals, and by extension the greater natural world. Companion Species addresses the reciprocal relationship humans have with nature, and our responsibilities as responsive stewards.

Part of my inquiry included The Companion Species Manifesto by scholar Donna Haraway, which not only references our intertwined relationships with flora and fauna, but reflects on human relationships with dogs, Canis lupus familiaris. In this text, Haraway describes the joint lives of dogs and people: the bond of “significant otherness.” I was compelled by the idea of dogs acting as “partners in the crime of human evolution.”

Which brings me to the image of La Lupa Capitolina or the Etruscan she-wolf nursing Remus and Romulus. In my studio, my own depiction of the She-Wolf’s body has become a two-panel 8 x 13 foot canopy (the image above shows the left panel). This piece offers shelter and protection to myself and my visitors. The She-Wolf has been my inspiration and companion in the making of this work.

Detail

Photograph by Aaron Johanson

Panel I

Photograph by Aaron Johanson

Left panel, showing the She-Wolf’s head. Measures 96 × 99 inches.