Painting a cow: Danielle Silvanic takes part in the agricultural art project

An artist since high school, Danielle Silvanic has painted on all manner of canvases over the years, most in the usual geometric shapes. However, this particular project presented unique challenges.

It was a cow, and a good size: 7 ½ feet long and 4 ½ feet high.

But unlike your typical New York State dairy cow, the life-size fiberglass sculpture only weighed around 100 pounds, or about a tenth of a real cow. The Decorated Cow – one of two created for the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition’s #DiscoverNYDairy initiative – traveled the state before the Great New York State Fair, to educate New Yorkers on everything regarding dairy products.

Silvanic and Katie Gabriel, an art teacher at Fayetteville-Manlius High School, were selected for the project after a long competitive process that required more documentation than the average job application, said the senior rising from Binghamton University. She learned of the opportunity through her aunt, a large animal veterinarian.

“This project was not something I would normally do, but it was for a good cause and I really believe that it is important for people to know where their food comes from,” she said.

A biological science graduate, Silvanic fell in love with watercolor painting while attending Chenango Forks High School, and kept it largely as a hobby. Meanwhile, her college journey took a long and winding path, starting at Clarkson University, where she majored in mechanical engineering.

After several interviews for engineering internships, she realized she wanted to live outside of a cubicle and returned home, enrolling in SUNY Broome as she pondered her new path. After a semester off, she applied to Binghamton and moved on to biological sciences – as fate would have it, just before the pandemic hit and changed online classes.

The work of a farmer

Some of her favorite childhood memories are from her grandparents’ dairy farm in upstate New York. In high school, she also participated in the Junior Dairy Leader Program at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which saw her visit dairy farms across the country.

Rendered in acrylic, the scenes painted on the cow are inspired by his experiences on his grandparents’ farm.

One side presents the different tasks of a dairy farm. Agriculture is “all day, every day” work, she stressed; cows are milked two to three times a day, and farmers also work around the clock to ensure animals and facilities are in top condition, from repairing machines to herd feeding and cleaning.

The other side features the end result of this work: dairy products found at home, the grocery store, and the local ice cream shop.

“I had a general idea of ​​what I wanted to do before I started: I first did the two scenes and then I worked on maintaining the integrity of the animal by adding the light pink of the udder, ears and nose, then adding spots. to reproduce the cowhide of a Holstein, ”she explained.

Over his next two semesters at Binghamton, Silvanic looks forward to forging more personal bonds, both in the classroom and within the club’s rowing and rugby teams. Right now, she’s not sure exactly what she will do after graduation, but appreciates the wide range of opportunities that a major in biological sciences offers: to become a nurse, a marine biologist, or a teacher, for nothing. to name a few.

“I want to travel and wake up every day excited about doing my job. What could it be ? I’m not sure yet, but I’ll do my best to be someone I’m proud of and give back to my community, ”she said.


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Margarita B. Bittner

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