“This is Donnie, he reminds me of Frank,” a.k.a. Donnie, is a work of art created at the beginning of 2016. I was gifted this deer skull from my father, Wilfred. Wanting to use my newly acquired porcupine quills from my friend, Jackson, I decided to cover the skull with quills. As you can see, I did not remove any of the barbed tips of the quills; this resulted in many pricked bleeding fingers.
While creating the piece, I soon realized that Donnie needed to sit vertically so I crafted a small base out of styrofoam and black fabric. Once Donnie was threaded and secured to the base, I continued adding quills to the piece. I had received some grouse wings and tail feathers from White River First Nation member, Dwayne. Because I did not fan the tail feathers out as soon as I received them I had to boil the tail meat in hot water and stretch the feathers out into a fan formation. I then added a small quilled piece of hide to cover the base of the tail. Upper Tanana women often wear grouse tails in their hair or use it as a dance fan.
This work speaks towards the conflict in all of us.
Photo credit: Alistair Maitland Photography
If you haven’t caught on to why this piece is called “This is Donnie, he reminds me of Frank,” let me explain. During the process of creating this work I had watched the film Donnie Darko (2001), featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and Frank, the giant bunny rabbit. Inspired by this film, I saw the image of Frank in the skull, but I often forgot his name, therefore I nicknamed the work Donnie.
This piece was first featured at Art House Carcross in 2016 and is currently on tour in Saskatchewan in association with Sakewewak Artists Collective’s exhibition “The Next 150.”