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Rabbit sculptures hop through community for charity with Cupertino Rotary Club

Valerie Shu, Vidushi Upadhyay
Lynbrook students Anna Ding and Allison Lin’s crouching rabbit sculptures were both 20 inches tall, the smallest size available. They were displayed outside a restaurant in Main Street Cupertino and the Cupertino Library, respectively, before being auctioned to buyers.

Painted with vibrant designs by local artists, colorful rabbit sculptures from the Cupertino Rotary Club’s rabbit project have found homes through auctions that succeeded in raising more than $30,000 for charities.

Created by Cupertino Rotary, a 501(c)3 community service club dedicated to humanitarianism locally and internationally, the Cupertino Rabbits project began recruiting artists in early 2023 to commission paintings on premade sculptures. Applications were welcomed from all different experience levels, and the project was joined by artists from across the community including Lynbrook students. Rabbits were chosen for their connection not only to Asian culture – with 2023 being the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac – but also for aligning with Western ideas of rabbits being symbolic of spring, growth and renewal. Local organizations from FUHSD to the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce partnered with Cupertino Rotary to sponsor certain pieces, helping to select the rabbits’ sizes, poses, painting themes, artists and locations for exhibition. 

The final product was a series of 37 diverse pieces, exhibited in local parks, businesses, and schools across the community before being auctioned to buyers through an online silent auction starting Oct. 9. The most popular pieces continued bidding in-person at the grand finale at Quinlan Community Center on Oct. 16. Cupertino Rotary donated the first $11,000 to an initiative organized by the Rotary Clubs of Santa Clara and Kharkiv, Ukraine to renovate commercial and industrial buildings in Kharkiv into housing for families whose homes were demolished in the war. The remaining funds will be used for ongoing Rotary Club charity projects in the community. 

“It makes me feel grateful to know that my art is helping to make a difference,” said senior Anna Ding, an artist for the project. “A lot of the time I feel like I create art for myself so it’s fulfilling to help with a greater cause.”

Named Alex the Great, Ding’s 20 inch tall rabbit was the smallest of three available sizes and sponsored directly by the Cupertino Rotary Club. Sporting a white baseball jersey, the sculpture was a faithful recreation of the real Alex – a flemish giant rabbit who had become the unofficial mascot of the San Francisco Giants – and was exhibited outside a restaurant on Main Street Cupertino before auctioning for $1400

Apart from those inspired by local organizations, many rabbits’ designs depicted themes of spring and growth with lively paintings of flowers, leaves and blue skies. Other designs connected to the rabbit’s roots in Asian culture with paintings that referenced aspects of Chinese culture, such as senior Allison Lin’s Lantern Festival rabbit. 

“My design was very Asian inspired, because it’s the Year of the Rabbit and the lantern festival is one of the largest Asian holidays,” Lin said. “I looked at a lot of references, like lanterns and food – I wanted to make it as seamless as possible.”

Covered from head to tail with color and detail, Lin’s design featured a festive nighttime marketplace with aspects of the traditional holiday celebrations such as lion dancing and Chinese knots. Others’ designs were similarly inspired by faraway cultures, with a series of four rabbits sponsored by Asian supermarket Marina Foods – each rabbit’s art referencing their respective country – being shipped overseas and gifted to Cupertino’s official sister cities in Italy, Japan, India and Taiwan.

“Art has mostly just been a hobby of mine,” Lin said. “So I think that it’s really cool that this project can let me take an interest and transform it into something with a bigger impact.”

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About the Contributor
Valerie Shu
Valerie Shu, Design Editor
(she/her) Valerie is a junior and Design Editor. She enjoys drawing, graphic design, Desmos and books.

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