By Brock Hires
Tonasket resident Quill Hyde has deep ties to Eastern Washington. And now Hyde is also making his mark on the nation’s capital with a sculpture display unveiled last month, which features 7-foot-tall polar bear, 1,200-pound elephant, 6-foot-tall rhinoceros with a chicken perched on his back, and a coyote voiced by Battlestar Galactica actor Edward James Olmos.
Several members of Congress attended the unveiling of this collaboration with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals titled “The Council of Animals (What to do About the Humans),” which seeks to answer the question “If animals spoke in a language we could understand, what would they say about us?”
Washington, D.C., is ranked as one of most popular summer destination in the U.S., and the National Mall, where the sculptures are on display, sees thousands of tourists each day through the summertime months.
Hyde grew up on a small rural farm in northern Okanogan County and spent his days interacting with animals, fostering in him a longstanding connection to the natural world. After receiving degrees in physics and mechanical engineering at Reed College and Columbia University, respectively, and spending 15 years in New York City, he returned to Tonasket, set up his own studio, and began creating art—specifically giant industrial animal sculptures.
“All of the living beings on this planet are part of one family, and we’re all special and have a right to exist,” Hyde said. “I hope this piece, The Council of Animals, will help people realize that we are not the only ones that matter, that the idea of being judged by our animal peers will inspire us humans to make kinder choices, for everyone’s sake.”
As part of the exhibit, the coyote delivers a speech that challenges speciesism—the belief in human supremacy—and draws attention to the talents, languages, skills, and cultures of various animals. It opens: “Dear friends, we are gathered here today to discuss the problem of humanity.” The coyote continues, “Look around you. There’s the elephant, with her profound emotional intelligence; the rhinoceros, with his majestic horn; the polar bear, with his unmatched resilience; the chicken, with her superb mothering instincts; and me—the clever coyote. But our talents, interests, and autonomy are often overlooked because some humans believe other animals exist just for them.”
Hyde’s exhibit was unveiled on July 13 on the National Mall.♦