Best Of 2020

Best Local Icon to Celebrate Her Sweet 16: Shark Girl

Shark Girl

Casey Riordan Millard’s Shark Girl — a young girl with the head of a shark, clad in a blue dress cinched with a pink bow — first came in the form a sketch in 2004 as a way for Millard, who now works as a therapist at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, to cope with her own anxiety and fears. She has more or less been making iterations of her ever since. In 2012, one such sculpture found a home in the Contemporary Arts Center’s UnMuseum. There, Shark Girl’s legs dangle over a bench as a storm cloud hovers nearby. Even if you’ve yet to see her in person — note: totally worth it — you’ve likely seen at least one pic while scrolling on social media; the sculpture has become a hot spot for museumgoers to strike a pose. Millard also created a temporary installation at Sawyer Point Park in 2013. That Shark Girl now resides in Buffalo, New York, where she has since become a town mascot after being bought by the Albright-Know Art Gallery’s curator of public art. Of hitting her sweet 16, Millard told CityBeat earlier this year that she thinks Shark Girl’s public life has been so much better than anything she could’ve made of her. “I think the fact that the selfies and the tattoos exist is way more powerful than anything I could ever make with her in it,” she said. “I almost feel like her life has become more of the work.” Contemporary Arts Center’s UnMuseum, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, contemporaryartscenter.org.