Photograph by Luis Rojas
This photo represents part of an extremely personal project. Lately, it seems like everyone on the internet feels a deep connection with wolves, and in general the "wolf community" turned me off from how much I love the animals. I didn't want to be just another wolfaboo, but that's when I realized the sad truth: I still cared about what people think about me.
I've grown up having to keep parts of my life secret.
I've dealt with bullying throughout elementary school to middle school, and things didn't magically get better in high school. These things happen. You just need to grow a thicker skin
was a piece of advice people consistently gave me whenever I tried to ask for help.
So I grew a second one instead.
Identifying with wolves gave me a source of strength to pull from. In many stories, the legend of the werewolf came from men and women who would don wolf pelts to shape shift, with only their eyes remaining human. This project represents a physical wolf to wrap myself in the same way I wrapped my feelings of helplessness up in an animal that was able to rebound from near-extinction.
The headdress is made from a vintage wolf-pelt purchased third (or fourth?)-hand from a Native at a local Lenape pow-wow. Believed to originally be Canadian in origin, this wolf was taken for population control and then traded until the last owner had no use for him and decided to sell him.
I originally sent him out to be commissioned into a head-dress, but the pelt is in pretty bad shape as a result of a poor tanning job and it wasn't certain that the wolf would survive the process. I ended up giving it a whirl myself (which was nerve-wracking) but he came out okay. I purposely exaggerated the forehead a bit in order to be able to wear him as a mask as well as atop my head. He was ritually purified and was used in a ritual/shapeshifting dance with much success. I also ended up wearing him to Saikoucon, where I truly felt like I'd shape-shifted into another person.
The ReD that walked the floors with that wolf was confident. She smiled and it felt genuine. Luis Rojas helped me snag some photos of that girl to remind me that she--that I
-- exist and it doesn't have to be a secret. He's an amazing photographer and an absolute blast to work with, and I'm looking forward to future collaborations.I will accept comments and questions, but hate will be ignored and blocked. If you disagree with the use of animal parts, I respect your decision and ask that you respect mine by not commenting here. You can use your energy to instead make a donation to the Wolf Sanctuary of PA, where you can make a real difference in the lives of animals that could use the support, not ones that have been dead for years.wolfsanctuarypa.org/
I still need to add one more set of straps to the lower portion of this hide to wear anchor him for when I dance, but the temporary straps are working quite well and are practically hidden...with the obvious exception of the chin-straps you can see hanging lose. When tightened, the face narrows slightly to a more realistic look.