The mermaid outline is the last part to be filled in on the new Science Link mural.
Ryan May/the Gauntlet

Mermaid breasts making waves

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The rough outline had barely been sketched onto the wall when the Students' Union began hearing complaints.

The SU, in a bid to spruce up the walk from MacEwan Student Centre to Science Theatres, hired two volunteer painters to create a colourful mural on the link's barren walls. The vibrant mural, yet to be completed, has already been criticized by some for its depiction of a busty and scantily-clad mermaid. The SU received three complaints within a week at the beginning of March.

"The biggest problem they had was that the mermaid's breasts were too big," said SU Vice-President Events Richard Bergen. "They believed [the mermaid's] body proportions were not realistic or representative of what a woman actually looks like."

According to Bergen, this issue was foreseen early on. The design for the mural was first put on paper and was presented to Bergen for approval.

"The original drawing had her naked," said Bergen, who promptly had the artist cover her up.

He also reiterated that the mermaid should be well proportioned, adding "we did not want a toothpick-thin Disney character."

Two people contacted Bergen via e-mail and, after some discussion, subsequently dropped their complaints. One student visited the SU office in person. This student was upset, saying the mermaid poorly reflected the university and questioned what it was doing on the walls of the institution.

Carolyn J. Blum, of the Feminist Initiative Recognizing Equality club which raises awareness on women's issues on campus, said her group was contacted before the mural went up to see if they were offended.

"The space could have been filled with something more tasteful," said Blum. "We are not, however, offended by the mural, especially since we were asked our opinion before hand."

The mermaid's creator was unavailable for comment. His partner, however, said they had been stopped while painting a couple times by angry pedestrians.

Currently, the SU has no plans to alter the mural or get rid of the mer- maid.




Umm, what's a realistically proportioned mermaid? Are people worried the painting will set an unrealistic standard for young mermaids?

ITS ART! Are the narrow minded, conservative, stiff-necked people of this university ever going to realize that art and difference are beautiful things? I mean COME ON PEOPLE, Toby's got a good point, its not even human, its a bloody mermaid! What's next? We label Donald Duck as XXX because he's an exibitionist that has no pants? I think the SU is actually doing something useful for once, albeit aesthetically, but its a great idea to show that our school as something more than labs, desks and ugly, ugly concrete. Will someone please, for once and all, tell these people that are offended with the representation of merwoman proportions to get a grip!?! You people make me sick with the stench of your ignorant, self-rightous ways. One day y'all will realize that somethings aren't like they were "were you grew up." Oh, and props to the Feminist folks for being in support of this mural, even if its setting "unreasonable standards" for merwomen (or certain merboys) all over this murky, gigantic and diverse ocean of a University. Amen!

Just thought I'd bring up the point that, while she is the central feature, the mermaid is not the only thing in the mural. The portions that are finnished are a welcome break from dull concrete and I think the whole thing will look great when it is finished.

I approve of a mural and look forward to seeing the finished thing. I think there should be more displays of student work around campus.

And if people are afraid of showing the female body (ok, mer-female body) artistically on a University campus, waht does that say about the rest of our society?

AMC, I don't actually think students painted this one. But please correct me if I'm wrong.

"And if people are afraid of showing the female body (ok, mer-female body) artistically on a University campus, waht does that say about the rest of our society?"

That we're merphobic.

How much did this mural cost? Anyone know? Or even an estimate?

Hey everyone, thanks for the comments on the artwork. I'll answer a few questions raised here:

One of them is a student, but at SAIT. The other is not (though he may have gone to University, I never asked).
The cost isn't totalled yet, but it consists of paints (several hundred dollars), a clear coat sealant and the cost of making sure the fire alarms aren't set off by the paints. The painters themselves are doing it for free.

Any other questions, feel free to email me. Same with comments, it's good to know people approve of this.


Very well, we didn't hire them but merely procured their services.

Art is usually meant to inhibit some sort of emotion and controversy. I doubt the artists went out of their way to offend anyone, but rather chose to create something unique that might appeal to the diverse student population with some sort of response. Even if my opinion may be biased, a mural is always better then a bland concrete wall, even if it may not appeal to my tastes.

Why cover the mermaid up? Yes, this is "conservative" Alberta but we are supposed to be among the enlightened are we not? It is ok for Italian marble statues to show naked women but it is unacceptable for Western Canadian pieces? Welcome to ìHickvilleî!