Monologue for the Bronze Cow
(Many years ago, I participated in a museum education internship while living in Paris, France. I often heard people say, “Vachement chouette,” a common expression for wonder and pleasant surprise, in the streets, in cafes, well, almost everywhere. The following is a text I wrote for a contest in Chicago. I was a finalist, but not the winner, to create a speech for the Chicago Cultural Center’s bronze cow installed by the Washington Street entrance. I imagined what the cow would say if it could speak to passersby. I think “vachement chouette” is an appropriate comment for this sculpture.)
Thanks for stopping by. People call me Daisy, sometimes Buttercup, but my real name is Bronzino (after the Italian artist) and I am one of the last cast bovines left standing in downtown Chicago. I feel so lonely without my herd, all the gals who were in 1999’s “Cows on Parade.” Three hundred twenty of us, decorated by artists, and set up along the streets of Chicago. You can see that no one has painted my sides or attached any do-dads to me. I guess I am high art, cast in bronze and resistant to freezing, thawing, broiling, but not touch. Every hug I get, every rider on my strong back, every ice cream cone that drips across my nose, every little finger that traces my spine reminds me that I am not alone.
Lots of people work inside the Cultural Center, behind me, just up the steps. Most don’t pay any attention to me anymore, but a few, a very few, give one of my horns, or my ear, or the tip of my nose a little tap before they go up the stairs and inside. Others do the same as they leave the building for the day. Do they do that for good luck? Or to let me know that they know I’m not alone? I wish that just once I could loosen the bolts that keep me attached to this sidewalk, that I could toss my head at the touch of a person’s finger, moo a little, and saunter up the steps with that man, or woman, or child, like their pet. Take a cow to work today. Give a cow a hug. Let me know I’m not alone, even if I am the last cow standing, long after the parade has passed.