Object photography

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Object description

  • Harry Fonseca (Nisenan, Southern Maidu, Hawaiian and Portuguese, 1946-2006)
  • Self-Portrait, 1982
  • Watercolor on paper
  • California, United States, (lived and worked in Santa Fe, New Mexico)
  • H: 24 5/16 in, W: 19 1/2 in, D: 2 in (H: 61.8 cm, W: 49.5 cm, D: 5.1 cm)
  • Gift of Margie Krebs, 2004
  • E302342
  • Coyote was artist’s alter ego
  • Fonseca demonstrates how a traditional trickster figure is still relevant in the modern world

Coyote is a trickster figure common to many Native American tribes, both today and in the past. A vital creative force in the ever-changing world, tricksters challenge the authority of the natural and supernatural worlds, using deception, thievery, clownishness and cunning. Playful Coyote has learned many difficult lessons, while keeping his sense of humor, to persevere through the hardships that history has presented.

Coyote appears in his many forms in modern Native American art and literature, as he does here in Harry Fonseca’s self-portrait. A smiling Coyote leans against an adobe wall in Santa Fe, where Fonseca lived. Coyote wears the typical Santa Fean "suit" of denim, cowboy boots, and a large turquoise belt buckle. Ultimately, Fonseca examines personal identity of the artist, of Coyote, and of American Indians in contemporary society.


Inscribed, bottom corner, "Fonseca 14/12/82 *II"


This is a watercolor on paper depicting the artist as a coyote wearing a denim shirt, denim jeans and brown boots. The coyote is sitting on a chair with his legs crossed, a burning cigarette in one hand and a cigarette pack in the other. The coyote is in a room with gray square tiles with blue splotches throughout.

Exhibition History

  • Intersections, Native American Art in a New Light, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.; June 24, 2006 through November 27, 2011