Hand embroidery and applique on cotton, 2019.
I wanted this piece to subvert the accepted narrative in popular culture that the hyena is a dirty, stupid, cowardly thief.
Hyena live in highly organised maternal/matriarchal societies, where all their behaviour is about providing for their pack. Writing them off as nothing more than a crazy scavenger is to provide a space into which the human threats that are pushing them towards extinction can take greater hold. Perpetuating this narrative allows such persecution to feel more justified, more explicable.
Hyena are some of the most uniquely intelligent mammals in existence. Highly effective hunters in their own right, some species in the genera kill as much as 95% of their food rather than stealing it. Where they are scavenging, they’re driving off much larger predators, like lions, despite their cowardly reputation.