BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — After about a year and a half, Shark Girl is back on her perch at Canalside.
The popular sculpture was temporarily moved in late 2019 for some restorations. Then, the pandemic struck.
“It was supposed to be this quick turnaround,” Shark Girl artist Casey Riordan said. “It’s taken all this time, and we’re so happy that she’s back.”
Shark Girl has been sanded down and repainted with durable automotive paint. She accumulated some wear and tear from the Buffalo weather- and the many visitors to Canalside who stop for a photo with her.
Since she was brought to Buffalo in 2014, Shark Girl has been a fan-favorite.
You can even find T-shirts, stickers, and other items with her likeness online.
Riordan, a Cincinnati native, loves it.
“I like the fan art- even more than my own work,” she laughed. “I get so excited when I see it, especially the costumes and the tattoos. I’ve had at least 20 tattoo pictures sent to me. I buy all of the Shark Girl t-shirts- she has a life of her own now, and then I find out later what’s going on with her.”
Riordan’s inspiration for the character came from an old childhood fear of sharks.
“I was one of those kids who always felt like there were sharks in the swimming pool,” Riordan said. “That feeling of being endangered and feeling panic when I was little- as an adult, I was having that kind of feeling about issues that were real, but I could relate the two physical feelings.”
Riordan said the Shark Girl character was a way to ground herself from the feeling of panic.
“She was about fear and anxiety- she’s 17 years old now, and she has really mellowed out, she’s very calm,” Riordan said.
There are other Shark Girl statues on display at Cincinnati- at the Contemporary Arts Center and the Cincinnati Art Museum.
Buffalo’s own Shark Girl actually started off as a public art project there. She was brought here through a collaboration with the Albright-Knox Art Museum.
“This piece was made to go on temporary display in Cincinnati, and they wanted to remove her,” Riordan explained. “She was tagged and graffitied on in Cincinnati- she hasn’t had a mark on her here, she’s actually respected in Buffalo.”
With an exciting summer season coming to Canalside this year, plenty of people are sure to enjoy taking photos with her.
“She’s continuing to live- she’s got legs that I couldn’t give her, and the people that live here do that,” Riordan said. “I really appreciate the good care that people are taking of her.”
Kaley Lynch is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of her work here.