Casey Riordan Millard (American, born 1973)
Shark Girl, 2013
Public Art Collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Shark Girl is the absurd, hilarious, and bittersweet creation of the artist Casey Riordan Millard. While Shark Girl might appear sorrowful or lonely, there is also a comic element to this “fish out of water.” Here, in Millard’s first public sculpture, Shark Girl patiently waits, legs daintily crossed, hands folded, for a companion to join her.
Appearing in nearly all of Millard’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures, Shark Girl was originally conceived as the artist reflected upon the existential conundrums of life, love, family, and loss. Shark Girl can be seen as Millard’s diversionary tactic or as her mechanism for confronting the challenges of contemporary life.
Shark Girl’s yearning and desire for normalcy and acceptance trigger equal parts laughter and empathy. The boulder upon which she sits provides viewers with the opportunity to bring the work to life by taking a seat and initiating a friendship with this bizarre half-shark, half-girl.
This work is part of the Public Art Collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and a product of the Public Art Initiative, an innovative partnership between the Albright-Knox and Erie County established in 2013 to enhance our shared sense of place and cultural identity in the urban and suburban landscapes of Western New York. The City of Buffalo joined the partnership in 2014. The Initiative promotes education about the arts through its Collection, related programming, and creative partnerships.
Shark Girl is currently on view at Canalside in downtown Buffalo. Photograph by Kelly Carpenter.
Beyond the Breakwater
Have you stopped by to see the Albright-Knox’s current exhibition in the Gallery for New Media, Ellie Ga: It Was Restored Again? If not, you still have time! The exhibition—Ga’s first solo show in an American museum—features two new works from her most recent series, “Square, Octagon, Circle,” 2012–14, which uses the ancient Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt, as a point of departure. Previously, we took a closer look at one of the works in the exhibition, It Was Restored Again, 2013, and today we explore the murky waters beneath the site of the lighthouse with Sayed, 2013.
During Ga’s time in Alexandria she learned to scuba dive in order to explore, firsthand, the submerged ruins of the Pharos Lighthouse, discovered in 1994 by the French archaeologist Jean-Yves Empereur on the floor of Alexandria’s Eastern Harbor. The single-channel video Sayed takes its moniker from the name of a local diving guide whom Ga accompanied on an underwater excursion. The viewer becomes an underwater witness as Ga and Sayed navigate the stone ruins beneath the ancient site and discuss the many gaps in current archaeological knowledge. As they explore, the pollution and swell make taking images of the remains nearly impossible. It is futile to try to capture what is left, leaving it up to us to reconstruct story of the lighthouse from what history has left behind.
Ga has written of her experience:
The sea is rough but not nearly as agitated today so I bring my brass lighthouse sculpture underwater for a photo shoot. As our dive-guide predicted, the visibility is really, really bad. Much worse than last time, which was also pretty bad. Again the wall of brown and green clouds and no visible bottom to swim towards. A meter of visibility at the most. Probably less. Luckily our guide is wearing yellow flippers and I’m able to follow him. We lose my companion almost instantly. My guide gestures emphatically that I am to hold onto this rock and not move. How long I wait at the rock I don’t know. Elapsed time is impossible to calculate underwater, perhaps because there is no horizon to measure time passing against. 5 minutes and 30 minutes are indistinguishable from one another. (http://notesfromalexandria.wordpress.com/)
Ellie Ga: It Was Restored Again will be on view through Sunday, September 14, 2014.
IMAGE: Ellie Ga (American, born 1976). Detail of Sayed, 2013. Single-channel video with sound, edition of 3 plus 1 AP. Running time: 5 minutes, 30 seconds. Image courtesy the artist and Bureau, New York.
#AKPublicArt continues today with the expansion of the mural #BuffaloCaverns by #TapeArt at the Central Library in downtown Buffalo. The mural is growing by the hour, so head downtown and see it for yourself! #BuffaloCaverns will be completed tomorrow, August 21, and will remain on view through August 29.
Recent Acquisition Highlights
Ryan McGinness’s Something About the Collapse of Art & Language, 2013
A battleground of semantic symbolic icons at once recognizable and yet elusive, Ryan J. McGinness’s Something About the Collapse of Art & Language, 2013, is an orchestrated layering of vibrant colors, designs, and graphics. McGinness creates drawings and paintings that stem from a mental landscape inspired by his urban surroundings and street culture—particularly graffiti, pop iconography, and corporate logos. Employing a layered system of symbols and signs, his works blur the line between abstraction and representation. Learn More
Ryan McGinness (American, born 1972). Something About the Collapse of Art & Language, 2013. Acrylic on canvas, 96 x 96 inches (243.8 x 243.8 cm). Gift of Mrs. George A. Forman, by exchange, 2013. © 2014 Ryan McGinness / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York