Thursday, February 5, 2009

The story of Angelicow

During a recent assignment designing cows for a Hong Kong 'Year of the Ox' event, I had flashbacks to my CowParade days and thought I’d reminisce a little. It was sometime in 2000 when I heard about a public art project involving life-sized cows. I decided to enter and when asked to submit a sketch of my design showing how I would decorate a cow, I decided to sculpt this little model instead which I thought would more accurately display the sculptural elements I intended to apply to cow.
My concept was simply the style in which I draw my characters. I love the addition of angel wings, glitter, and rhinestones to just about anything. It’s also intuitive for me to make things feminine with large closed eyes smothered with blue eye shadow, long eyelashes and lips made up with lipstick.

I submitted a photo of my model which was presented to a board of potential sponsors ranging from large corporations to small business owners. My design was selected to be sponsored by Deiner Mt. Pleasant Associates who own a shopping mall in West Orange, NJ. They wanted to have my cow stand outside their florist shop. I received the exciting news that my design was selected and went to pick up my blank life-sized cow. I roped her to the back of a flatbed truck and drove her home to begin what would be one of the most rewarding projects I have ever done.

I began by painting the cow in a layer of orange house paint. Then I carved whimsical shapes out of insulation foam, sanded them to smooth, covered them in joint compound and sanded again when dry. They were covered in gesso and attached to the cow with strong adhesive. I used a caulking gun to fill in the areas where the shapes were not flush with the surface of the cow.

The shapes consisted of elements from my sketchbooks. These are shapes I constantly draw because they are aesthetically pleasing to me. Without being conscious of what I am making, I often draw stars- some with round edges which turn into clover-like shapes, and circles that extend into ovals. The layering of these shapes that move in opposing directions make the surface active.
The wings are also made of insulation foam. I glued several layers of it together to achieve the width and carved the wing shape. I repeated the sanding and joint compound process and hollowed out a tunnel inside each wing for a wooden dowel to slide into. The dowel served as an armature that extended down deep into the opposing leg through holes I had drilled on each side of the cow.

I painted the shapes with Acrylic paint and added rhinestones and glitter. I named her “Cold Cut”. I thought it was humorous in its contradiction. Here was this cow elevated to an angelic status, bejeweled and decorated in bright, happy colors but the name drew the focus back to a potentially sad fate. My sponsor found the name “Angelicow” to be more appropriate... and so she was called.

Angelicow spent part of the summer in West Orange and was then transferred to Newark Airport. She stood in the Continental Airlines Terminal beckoning passersby to the charity auction.

She was made into miniature figurines, magnets, lamps, jewelry boxes and just about anything else you can think of.

She caught the eye of Ringo Starr who bought her at the auction. I was able to meet him so I made a little sculpture of Ringo, bought one of the Angelicow replica figurines to put in the scene and presented Ringo with a print of the 3D illustration. It was such a wonderful experience that has led to so many other incredible opportunities that I am very grateful for!