Shaun Slifer

Between Dog & Wolf
bronze, asphalt, asphalt filler, roofing paper

In 2007, I cast a series of bronze "puddles" with coyote tracks imprinted in their surfaces. For several years I periodically installed these in small potholes in asphalt streets in urban environments - mostly in Pittsburgh, but also in several other US cities as I traveled. The process emulates the fabrication of the mosaic "Toynbee Tile" installations, in that the embedded object (in this case a hunk of bronze) is initially hidden by tar paper and only becomes visible after the covering is worn away by the continual grind of motorized traffic. Asphalt crack filler serves as the bonding agent. Since asphalt is always in flux, it tends to accept less pliable materials, particularly metals: by the time the tracks become visible they have already become a part of the street.

In working on this project, I was not only parsing through my ongoing fascination with the modern spread of coyotes across North America, but also the idea that, since bronze does not break down much over thousands of years, I would in some sense be generating contemporary fossil records of prevalent North American wildlife - albeit wrought in man-made materials. That the bronze would need automotive traffic to provide the finishing polish was an additionally decisive detail.

"The coyote is the most adaptable and successful North American mammal besides Homo sapiens. Favoring prairie, basin, and bajada, the coyote has recently extended its range from the forests of Maine to the city parks of Los Angeles, from Alaska to the mountains of Guatemala, and it has done this in the face of one of the most concerted attempts ever made to wipe out an entire species... Mythologically and biologically, Coyote is a survivor and exemplar of evolutionary change."
- David Levi Strauss, from American Beuys, Autonomedia, 1999