BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – An exhibit devoted to Canalside favorite “Shark Girl” will open Saturday at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
“Shark Girl: Never Quite There” includes Shark Girl sculptor Casey Riordan Millard’s many depictions of the beloved half-girl, half-shark figure- including works on paper, paintings, sculptures and installations.
The exhibit will be on view until Oct. 1.
Shark Girl has been one of Millard’s primary motifs for decades, emerging in the early 2000s as a response to her internalized anxiety and sense that she was not in control of her life.
According to an Albright-Knox press release, while attempting to understand her anxieties, the closest parallel Millard could draw was her irrational childhood fear of sharks.
“I would be swimming and then all of the sudden I would feel like a shark was going to attack me and I would just, in a panic, jump out of the swimming pool, breathing heavily and freaking out,” Millard said. “I would never tell anybody because I was so embarrassed.”
After getting married, Millard faced another irrational fear of her husband dying suddenly and unexpectedly.
“The reality of the phrase “until death do us part” suddenly resonated, crippling her with terror,” the press release explained.
Millard turned to art as therapy for her anxiety, beginning with crude sketches of shark-infested pools and bathtubs, eventually creating the “whimsical yet improbable chimera of a shark-girl”.
For Millard, Shark Girl is exactly what she appears to be: a little girl, delicate and innocent, topped with an absurd shark head.
The Shark Girl sculpture arrived in Western New York in 2013 and is one of the best-known sculptures at Canalside.
The exhibition is located in the museum’s Clifton Hall Link, and is organized by Curator of Public Art Aaron Ott. This exhibition is supported by The Seymour H. Knox Foundation.