Reminiscent of the Victorian feather craze, alligator hides were coveted by the fashion industry starting in the early 20th century, and consequently, alligators were hunted to the point of endangerment....
Reminiscent of the Victorian feather craze, alligator hides were coveted by the fashion industry starting in the early 20th century, and consequently, alligators were hunted to the point of endangerment. Thankfully, hunting the reptiles became illegal, and in 1987 the alligator was removed from the endangered species list and pronounced fully recovered. Unlike the wading birds prized for their plumes, alligators can now be legally hunted in Florida, including in the Everglades, with the proper license from August 15 to November 1.
Alligators are also raised on private farms and commercialized in every possible way. Their hides, the most lucrative product, are sold in large quantities to luxury fashion companies, and their meat, the second most valuable commodity, is purchased by select restaurants and specialty grocers. The leftovers, known as recycled alligator, specifically their heads, teeth and feet, are destined to become Florida souvenirs, which are commonly found in the form of key chains and back scratchers available for purchase in many area pharmacies.
The final way the alligator generates revenue is tourism. The Florida Alligator Marketing and Education website suggests that “Alligator farming helps take pressure off the wild alligator population while meeting the high demand for alligator products.” It also states: “Florida Alligator… [is] beautiful, exotic and sustainable and a renewable natural resource that is as native to Florida as our pristine white sandy beaches.”
This installation is comprised of two pieces: a watercolor depicting a Seminole man dressed in a Victorian era straw boater and a sunshine yellow shirt patterned with freshly severed recycled alligator feet, paired with a group of three back scratchers with their original tags, hanging as they would in a retail store.