The Power Of Art: Who Is Shamu?
One of the themes of Blackfish is that orcas are highly intelligent, self-aware, social beings. In short, they are individuals.
However, SeaWorld’s marketing and presentation of killer whales–through its promotion of every whale as a single whale, Shamu–works to erase the idea that each killer whale in SeaWorld’s “collection” is a distinctive, unique, killer whale, with its own individual experience and history, and its own identity.
That doesn’t sit well with Lee Harrison and James Wolf, and they have created this powerful and moving graphic to drive home the fact that there is no Shamu, that instead there are multiple killer whales with multiple fates.
Here is how Harrison (you can see more of his work here) explains the project:
“This idea came to me when I recalled some of the orcas that have died and have been forgotten based on SeaWorld’s ‘sweeping it under the rug’ ways.
I wanted to create awareness by drawing attention to some of the more shocking and upsetting stories we know of in a simple way to get people more interested to discover more.
The simple and pleasing visuals seem to draw people in, while the stories shock them and they tend to ask more.”
And here is what he and Wolf (who in encyclopedic when it comes to SeaWorld’s killer whales and their histories) produced (click image for a version you can enlarge):
For more a more detailed presentation of this art, and the life histories of the killer whales featured, go to OrcaAware.