Newark’s Runaway Bull Inspires Student Art Show at Columbia High School

0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

The following is a press release from the SOMSD:

MAPLEWOOD, N.J. – It started as a project in Art Teacher Curtis Grayson, III’s classes about Spain – its culture, its architecture, and its artists. And then, Ricardo The Bull.

The more than 600-pound steer who is believed to have escaped a fate at a slaughterhouse by taking to Newark streets in mid-December captured the hearts and imaginations of Grayson and his students and inspired their art exhibit, “Empathy For The Bull,” which opened on Wednesday.

“Originally, the bull was one of many aspects of Spanish culture the students could draw inspiration from to create their pieces,” said Grayson. “But when we heard the news about the runaway bull in Newark, the bull became the focus of most of the students. It’s understandable when you think about it. The bull is formidable and strong, but the bull is also vulnerable. I think that is how the students started feeling empathy, rather than fear, toward the animal.”

Art Teacher Curtis Grayson, III talks to his student artists who contributed to the “Empathy For The Bull” exhibit at the Domareki Art Gallery at Columbia High School.

That empathy shows in many of the students’ pieces. Sophomore Sofia Rumbolo has a piece with a border that repeats “35,000,” the number of bulls killed during bullfights in Spain every year, according to one source she consulted.  Noah Closeil’s painting depicts a bullfighting scene with the roles reversed. The bull is dressed as a matador, wielding a sword and a red cape, standing ready to fight a man. Katelyn Chan’s acrylic painting includes Ferdinand, the animated character who prefers smelling flowers to bullfighting.

Grayson said that the exhibit has been produced in cooperation with the World Languages Department, which advised the classes on Spanish culture. The department will also provide Spanish translations of the artists’ statements

The collaboration with the World Languages Department is also manifested in the collection’s works that celebrate icons of Spanish culture, including a detailed pencil drawing of La Giralda, the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral. Senior Jessica Daniel created an oil pastel painting of a woman Flamenco dancer in a red dress that was vibrant with the artist’s choice of materials.

At the show’s opening on Wednesday, Grayson encouraged the students to consider putting their pieces up for sale, and investing the proceeds into their art.

It was a new consideration for many of the students, including Daniel.

“I would have given this for free,” she said, standing near her work. “I’m glad that he sees potential in this piece that I didn’t see.”


Related Articles