Forget the Liger, Alabama Biennial Has a Zonkey

Stacey M. Holloway, The Grass Is Always Greener (2011).
Photo: Courtesy the artist, Wiregrass Museum of Art.

In the food chain of hybrid animals, the “zonkey”—a donkey with the striped legs of a zebra, occasionally also referred to as a “donkra“—probably doesn’t rank very high, but it does benefit from major cultural cachet thanks to its starring role in B14, this year’s edition of the Wiregrass Museum of Art (and Conference Center) biennial in Dothan, Alabama. Nicknamed Xena—presumably after the warrior princess of 1990s TV fame, although the Dothan Eagle inexcusably never confirms as much—the zonkey is part of artist Stacey M. Holloway‘s installation The Grass Is Always Greener (2011), in which a stylized version of the rare yet real animal pulls a small trailer home.

“My animals tend to take on a very interesting style where they have these big stomachs and these scrawny little legs,” Holloway told the Eagle. “I just like to over-exaggerate certain features. I think it’s just my style. Her head is a little bit bigger and her legs are a little bit shorter than what you would find on an actual zonkey.”

Inside the small camper that Xena is pulling is a rabbit that appears to be burrowing into the ground.

“I always say I still feel like I’m in that transition from when you leave your parents’ house and when it’s time to create your own house,” Holloway explained. “That’s where the idea of a trailer comes in. You build these things, you take these relationships with you wherever you go, and all these things make up who you are and inevitably build the person that you’re going to be in the future, when you have that family.”

The 2014 Wiregrass biennial includes 47 works by artists from all over the Southeast. It opens to the public on July 17, and will conclude with the museum acquiring four works from the show for its permanent collection.

“I would say it’s one of the best exhibitions that we do because it is so far-reaching in the region,” Wiregrass curator Dana-Marie Lemmer tells the Eagle. “We get to collaborate with the best talent.”

Zonkeys belong to a group of hybrids between zebras and other equine animals known as zebroids that have been bred since the 19th century, and were documented by Charles Darwin.

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