Calf and Sunflowers

Calf and sunflowers, acrylic on cardboard, September 2021

Cows have always been my favorite animals.

They evoke my deepest sense of tenderness, and a desire to protect them and the environment they live in.

Some of my dearest childhood memories have lots to do with images of cows grazing on green pastures, and the joy of watching them munching the grass, unbothered, harmless, relishing that moment knowing that later at night, I would see them crammed in a stable, back to their labour of producing milk for human consumption.

During the years, I have felt my empathy growing towards these animals, that are revered the more the harder they work for us.

I was so struck the first time I learned that they are sacred in India. I thought to myself that it was a really odd kind of worship, the one that praised not the prowess of the lion, or the masculine energy of the horse, but the mild docility of the industrious cow.

To this day, I find it so ironic, that throughout history humankind has put cattle on a pedestal. Whether we treat it with religious respect and refrain from eating its meat, or fob families off with sappy scenes of maternal love between a cow and its calf, we make up with goodwill for the continuous sacrifices we require of these animals. How harder must their life get before they earn our unselfish respect?

I am increasingly emboldened to conclude that the paternalistic attitude we (and I am including myself in the group) have towards animals stems from the same germ of “inspiration porn”: like an assassin repeatedly washing their hands to eliminate the traces of their bloody deed, we wash our conscience off by repeatedly stating our love for animals, or our admiration for people in situations of distress because, at the very core of it, we are ashamed to admit that we are not concerned with their wellbeing at all.

When I made this drawing, I was really stressed and angry.

Probably that’s why my mind immediately went searching for comfort, and the images of cows and sunflowers resurfaced.

There’s so much on our planet that shouldn’t be so difficult to love, and respect, and uplift, without wondering what’s in there for us.

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