When a statue is put up, it’s an open invitation for public scrutiny. In the case of a seagull statue in Massachusetts, it’s turned into a controversy. That’s because this seagull has breasts.
According to United Press International, some residents in the town of New Bedford are upset that the 8-foot-tall sculpture, titled Seagull Cinderella, is visible along a roadway as part of the city’s Seaport Art Walk event. The statue depicts a figure with the head of a bird but with breasts more akin to a human and what it appears to be a modest, billowing skirt. In the eyes of artist Donna Dodson, it’s meant to touch on themes of empowerment as well as New Bedford’s history as a waterfront area.
Others, however, find it lewd. An online petition has circulated requesting the city remove the statue—a request that has thus far gone unanswered.
This isn’t the first time Seagull Cinderella has courted controversy. Dodson actually debuted the work back in 2016, where it drew criticism for appearing to be fully nude. A petition, “Remove the Seagull With Boobs Statue in Downtown New Bedford,” was created. The complaint explained that it was “…ridiculous and makes our city look like a joke. With New Bedford’s rich history, we do not want visitors’ lasting impressions to be [this]. What a waste. It needs to go. Remove it, or replace it with something beautiful.”
Nearly 400 signatures appeared on the petition that time, though it also drew voices of support on Facebook, where a group calling itself We Love Seagull Cinderella was formed.
“When art is out in public, it becomes a symbol for something more than what it
is,” Dodson said in 2016. “Public art generates these conversations about cultural values that private art doesn’t provoke. I welcome the controversy.”
After moving it to her hometown of Maynard, Dodson has since returned it to New Bedford with a more modest look: flowers now appear over the sculpture’s previously bare breasts.