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Arts & Life

Temple Grandin’s Resume Just Got Another Accolade: A Tribute Piano

She’s been the subject of books, interviews, speeches, even an HBO film starring Claire Danes. Her office is full of awards. Now, arguably Fort Collins’ most well-known resident, Temple Grandin, is the inspiration for a piano.

“Grandin is a rare human being, who — like [Dian] Fossey, [Jane] Goodall, [Birutė] Galdikas, and others — has devoted her life and work to serving as ambassador to and for our fellow creatures,” said artist Henry Covey in a statement. “As we approach the Temple Grandin Piano, much like first approaching Grandin’s work, we start to see in steps her profound passion for animals and deep scientific curiosity at play around every corner.”

The Grandin piano is part of the Pianos about Town project, which hands donated pianos to artists who transform the instruments into works of art.

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Credit Courtesy The Bohemian Foundation
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Courtesy The Bohemian Foundation
Brothers Nick and Henry Covey (right) with their Temple Grandin piano, which will be placed in Colorado State University's Lory Student center.

Henry Covey and his brother Nick spent about two weeks holed up in the Lory Student Center on the Colorado State University campus painting the piano. It’s trimmed in green and gold, CSU’s colors, with dabbled black and white Holstein cattle adorning each end. Scenes of Grandin interacting with cattle are painted on the piano’s front and back.

Beyond her work as an animal science professor at the university, Grandin’s career has been marked by her involvement with agricultural and autistic communities. She led teams in instituting more humane slaughter practices at some of the country’s largest meatpacking plants, including the JBS beef plant in Greeley, Colorado. She’s also written extensively and spoken eloquently about the autistic brain, how it’s helped her empathize with animals in a unique way, allowing her to see the world differently.

“Having a piano painted in my honor is certainly one of the more unique recognitions I have received in my life,” Grandin said. “I am delighted to be connected to the Pianos about Town group here in Fort Collins, and I think it is wonderful that the piano will be painted in a space that is both accessible to and frequently visited by CSU students.”

The finished piano — the project’s 67th installation — will remain in the Lory Student Center for public use. Pianos about Town is a project of the City of Fort Collins, the Bohemian Foundation, and the Downtown Development Authority.

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