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Meet Mildred, the Trompe L’oeil Sea Monster


Brooklyn, N.Y.-based artist Shana Siegel has been creating murals and scenic paintings for theater, television, and exhibitions since 2005. Her latest piece, named Mildred, is a departure (literally), as it’s composed of four standalone plywood pieces that together create a fantastic optical illusion. Constructed and painted in the style of traditional theatrical scenery using plywood, acrylic, polyurethane, screws, and sandbags, Mildred is an experiment in seeing what would happen if Shana took the pieces “out of the theater and into the real world.” Through Mildred, Shana “demonstrates how two dimensional painting can appear three dimensional, and be created by human hands. No computer graphics necessary.”

Mildred was installed at Maxon Mills, a seven-story grain elevator serving as the exhibition space for the Wassaic Project (as seen in the images here), and Shana will be installing Mildred at World Maker Faire New York, taking place September 21 and 22, at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. Mildred will be visible from a unique special location within Zone A, inside the museum.

As part of the installation at Maxon Mills, Shana made an observation station for peeping Mildred:
mildred setup

This is what Mildred looks like from the binoculars:
mildred view

You can see Mildred in the distance here:
mildred from afar

Here’s Shana transporting Mildred’s head:
shana and mildred

Mildred looks like a true sea monster in the rain:
mildred in the rain

All photographs by Josh Kesner.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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