Liberation of the Jackalope
Oil on Braced Baltic Birch 29” x 21” x 2”
While driving across the US and seeing large Jackrabbits, I first heard about the Jackalope. My interest was piqued when a family friend, a trucker, said that he saw a Jackalope on one of his runs. Creating this painting, I became intrigued by the Legend of the Jackalope. It began when Wyoming trappers, the Herrick brothers, amused themselves by mounting antelope (Pronghorn) antlers onto a Jackrabbit. Jackalope folklore eventually made its way into a Pixar short, called Boundin’.
I initially contemplated indulging this mythic icon and painting a Jackalope, but then I did some further research and was shocked at what I uncovered. The existence of the ‘Horned Rabbit’ actually reaches back through the ages to Europe and Persia. Naturalists eventually realized that Lepus Cornutus was not a distinct species, as its antlers were actually the result of a cancerous disease: Rabbit Papilloma Virus. This revelation cast a bad light on the cruel joke to rabbits, poking fun at a condition some of them have suffered from, even to the point of being choked to death.
As I have worked on my Streams in the Wasteland series, developing a post-apocalyptic world where animals inhabit forsaken human civilizations, I have pondered the question “what would the liberation of animals from the bondage of decay look like?” I resolved to depict a Black-tailed Jackrabbit who has just shed his ‘antlers’. He is sitting in a sand-swept western interior, with the remains of a tea party inspired by my mom’s Russian blue-ware. As he has been mystically healed from this deadly disease — a passing shadow of the old world — he now turns his gaze upon the dawn of the new world.
Rehs Contemporary Award, International Salon Competition, Art Renewal Center