Why is there a cow in Baker Hall?


Come, cow, come!In October 2008,  West Sound Academy art teacher Leigh Metteer was one of many art educators from around the country who gave students the assignment of designing a cow for the 4th Annual Lucerne® The Art of Dairy Art Contest. Safeway had sponsored similar contests annually beginning in 2005, each with a different theme.

Trower's entry  to the 'Art of Dairy' contest

In 2008, students had to follow the theme, Taste of Moo-sic, and contest rules required entries to "depict a unique blend of some aspect of music with dairy products, where dairy products play a central role in the design." Judges reviewed over 6,000 entries from all over the country, and selected thirty finalists from twelve states to compete for the Grand Prize, First Prize, and Honorable Achievements.


West Sound Academy senior Matt Trower drew an illustration for one side of a cow featuring a boy playing a guitar, with ice cream cone 'notes' floating around him.  The entry was submitted by the November 1st deadline, and then forgotten.

Art of Dairy Cow #20 being unloaded from the Atlas Van Lines truckOne rainy day in January 2009, a special delivery letter was dropped off at the Trower home. West Sound Academy's very own student artist had been named as one of the thirty finalists, and was now eligible to have the opportunity to paint the contest entry design on a life-sized fiberglass cow.  The eight-foot-long, 125-pound bovine arrived at the WSA campus in an Atlas Van Lines truck, and was wheeled into Baker Hall, covered in yards and yards of bubble wrap.


The next task was to come up with a design for the other side of the cow, and then to draw designs on all the parts of the animal - eyes, ears, tail, hooves, etc.  

Then came the painting - during lunch, after school, on weekends.  Sketching, re-sketching, painting, more painting.  

The project took approximately forty hours to complete in March, finishing up the day before the start of a well-deserved Spring Break.


Photos were taken of Rockin' Neapolitan, as the cow was named, and submitted to the contest organizers.  WSA's cow didn't advance any further in the contest, but the school did win the right to keep the beautiful bovine.  And there were public appearances!  

Returning WSA alumni, Xiaofan Li and Emma Christen

Rockin' Neapolitan spent two weeks at the Bainbridge Safeway Store, took a ride in Poulsbo's Viking Fest parade on May 16, 2009 (on a trailer pulled by then WSA Head of School Dr. Gordon Parke), and went back to the island for the Bainbridge Grand Old Fourth of July Parade, this time pulled on a truck driven by Peter Crabtree, WSA Class of 2008.

Rockin' Neapolitan has retired from public life, and resides permanently now in the lobby of Baker Hall.  Many a visitor or returning alumni has their photo taken with WSA's extraordinary cow.



What happened to the artist?  


One happy puppy, Evan, with owner Matt TrowerTrower graduated from West Sound Academy in 2009, and went on to graduate with honors from Rhode Island School of Design in June 2013. They earned a bachelor of fine arts degree, with a major in illustration and a concentration in Gender, Sexuality, and Race.

Trower lives in Durham, North Carolina and is the resident artist at Duke University's Center for Advanced Hindsight (CAH)working on a variety of illustration projects for Duke professor Dan Ariely.  One of their posts to Dan Ariely's blog - "in my favorite medium, comics" - explains what the job is all about:  Why do we have an artist in the lab?  Trower is the co-author of a CAH comics series on behavioral economics, B.E. for Dogs: " a bi-weekly comic series that will examine concepts in behavioral economics from the perspective of our canine companions." See B.E. For Dogs: Hindsight Bias and B.E. For Dogs: Peak-End Rule.  Trower is currently working on the illustrations for Amazing Decisions, a "playful graphic novel guide to better decision-making" co-written with Dan Ariely and based on his research in behavioral economics, neuroscience and psychology.  Amazing Decisions is set to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2019.

Illustration from Trower's comic, Eik

In their off-campus life, Trower is the Co-Chair of QORDS, a non-profit that offers a music summer camp and other programs for queer youth in North Carolina.

In addition to illustration, they make comics of varying lengths and produces personal and collaborative zines under the imprint "Inkmaggot".

More recent work from this WSA and RISD grad is at the M.R. Trower portfolio website. Visitors can see comics, environments, character design, and illustration work - just not very many cows!