Maplewood high school students draw inspiration from 'Ricardo' the steer in new art show

Toni Yates Image
Tuesday, January 23, 2024
Runaway steer in NJ inspires art show by high school students
Toni Yates has the story.

MAPLEWOOD, New Jersey (WABC) -- Some high school art students in New Jersey are taking inspiration from a now famous 600-pound steer that broke free from a slaughterhouse in Newark.

Just a few weeks ago, Ricardo, the steer, managed to escape from the slaughterhouse before being spotted running on New Jersey Transit train tracks.

The unusual sight was captured by passengers who took photos and videos, but now Ricardo is capturing the imagination of art students at Columbia High School in Maplewood.

The high school's art teacher, Curtis Grayson, asked his students how they would feel if the massive bull was coming at them.

Grayson challenged some of his students to marry Ricardo's story with their cultural classes about Spain, including its bullfighting tradition, and turned it into an art exhibit.

"I personally think that tradition is something that we should respect but can be altered over time," said freshman student Eli Groner.

"We already know the ending, but the bull doesn't, and sympathize with the already known fate of the bull," said sophomore Anastasia Patti-Aquino.

Bullfighting is legal in several countries, grandfathered in as longstanding traditions. A rule in New Jersey is that if an animal escapes slaughter, it wins its freedom. Students weighed the differences in their pieces.

"I think it's an interesting topic because for me I would never run with the bulls," said sophomore Lillian Kyle said. "That's terrifying, but it's such a deep cultural thing. I think it's really beautiful that it's connected so many people."

On December 14, Ricardo disrupted NJ Transit commuters, but won thousands of supporters including an art teacher and his students.

Crystal Cranmore has the latest details.

"Art is not just to pierce the soul, it also starts some type of conversation and dialogue, and that's what we want the exhibit to be," Grayson said.

RELATED | NJ Transit selling 'Ricardo' the steer plush toy


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