Local artist using Ellen DeGeneres portrait as a face for pro seal hunt

Cory
Cory Hurley
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Local artist Rodney Mercer created this portrait of Ellen DeGeneres out of seal pelt. — Star photo by Cory Hurley

Fair is fair, but ignorance isn’t: Rodney Mercer

Newfoundland and Labrador artist Rodney Mercer is looking to put a different face on the seal hunt.

Ironically, it is the same face — Ellen DeGeneres’ — that was recently used in a way that shed more light on the opposition to the commercial hunt in this province.

The Hollywood star and daytime television host tweeted a “selfie” during the Oscars, which became the most retweeted picture in the life of Twitter. In conjunction with a Samsung hashtag, the electronics company donated a dollar to charity for every one of the more than three million retweets.

DeGeneres has directed $1.5 million to the Humane Society of the United States — a major opponent to the Canadian seal hunt. DeGeneres, much like a number of celebrities around the world, is no stranger to the anti-seal hunt cause. Her message can be found on her website, which contains a number of irregularities, according to Mercer.

That is what irked the visual artist about the entire ordeal.

“I think she did have good intentions, but I don’t think she realizes what she is saying is very far from the truth,” Mercer said.

On DeGeneres’ website, it states, “Seal hunting is one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government. Canada is allowing the slaughter of a record number of seals in their 2011 hunting season, which is going on right now. The seals are often younger than three months old. This has to stop.”

With DeGeneres using social media and the Internet, combined with the selfie, the artist wanted to come up with a campaign of his own.

Another local artist, Nikki Hollohan, has been using seal pelts to make coffee cup holders. Mercer thought it would be interesting to add DeGeneres’ face to those. Then, he thought a portrait made from a seal pelt would be even better.

A seal pelt, razor blades, and his ample artistic talent later, Ellen DeGeneres now has another sort of selfie — this one in seal fur.

“Is it a ridiculous image and idea? Absolutely,” he said. “It is total sensationalism — as was the publicity stunt at the awards show.”

From an artistic standpoint, Mercer takes pride in the creation. Seal pelts are a traditional medium for art in this province, and this particular pelt originated from the processing plant in Dildo — which is about a kilometre from where he grew up.

While being pro seal hunt, he still respects anybody else’s opinion, he said. His issue is with what he characterizes as false information being publicized.

“Fair is fair, but ignorance isn’t,” he said.

He is pleased with the positive reaction thus far. The importance of the piece is the narrative behind it. It is creating dialogue, he said. His portrait is being passed through social media — Twitter and Facebook — however, has only been retweeted 31 times as of Monday afternoon. With media coverage of his artwork, he believes, it is more far reaching than that.

Whether it will reach DeGeneres, he is not sure. He said some of the retweets and likes have been directed to DeGeneres, but he said they are either being blocked or filtered.

“I don’t expect a Paul McCartney/Danny Williams kind of thing,” he said, referring to the seal hunt debate held on CNN’s Larry King Live in 2008.

Twitter: WS_CoryHurley

Organizations: Samsung, Humane Society of the United States

Geographic location: DeGeneres, Newfoundland and Labrador, Hollywood Canada Dildo

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Michael
    April 04, 2014 - 22:07

    Ellen DeGeneres should be flat out told to mind her own business and concern herself with some of the worst animal abuse in the States such as what they do in Alaska shooting wolves from the air and trophy hunting, the worst of it all which serves no purpose. I happen to love animals, I don't like hunting, however in the case of aboriginal people in the north I understand why they do it. As you go further up north the price of food is so much more expensive than it is in the south and not everyone is made of money to afford to walk in a store with such high food prices, everything in the far north is much more expensive. Aboriginal people acutally use the seal for food, some might not even know that, it's a lack of education of the culture in the far north of what is done to survive. This news story forgot to mention that this entire topic has become out of hand and how some people have been saying some real offensive and uncalled for terrible things about aboriginal people as reported on CBC North. I don't like like hunting as much as any other animal lover, however, at the same time I'm well aware of how much harder it is to survive in the north. People should really educated themselves better about the north before saying things. I don't even live in the arctic and I'm not aboriginal but I'm very much aware of how very expensive everything is up there, the aboriginal community have it very hard up there and have to do what they have to do in order to survive, they are also careful to make sure things aren't over done either so that nature can still survive.

  • David r
    March 30, 2014 - 07:53

    Wish I owned the portrait, wish I owned a seal skin jacket.

  • Delilah DeLage
    March 27, 2014 - 21:56

    Brilliant, Rodney Mercer! I love it, looks good on her .

  • Delilah DeLage
    March 27, 2014 - 21:53

    Brilliant, Rodney Mercer! I love it, looks good on her .

  • Gerald dennis
    March 26, 2014 - 20:42

    Why not take the time and money and help the young girls from srilanka, from been mutilated

  • Elaine Pond
    March 26, 2014 - 06:49

    Awesome job, Rodney!

  • over rated celebrity
    March 26, 2014 - 06:38

    I suppose Ellen would be bashing lesbianism if she wasn't one herself. Why do we acknowledge these people and give them opportunity to get their "mugs" on the front page? I guess it's the only way they will get there...certainly not by way of talent.

  • original townie
    March 26, 2014 - 06:29

    We are our own worst enemies by acknowledging these people.

  • newfinab
    March 26, 2014 - 00:57

    Shouldve sent it to her. Would've been funny if she displayed it on the show lol

  • elaine hollett
    March 26, 2014 - 00:03

    i think this young man is doing .an Awesome job for newfoundland

  • Deborah S. Brake
    March 25, 2014 - 21:38

    Dudley said it all!

  • PAYNE
    March 25, 2014 - 21:35

    Tradition ,Culture, Light, Medicine, Food, Warmth, ``Food`` Trade, LIFE. Most of the ignorance in the world is due to lack of information on the situation. Do the rest of the world know not only the Inuit but our native people of the Northern Peninsula depend and depended on the `SEAL HUNT`` and have survived for century's because we eat seal................................ Share this if you have eaten SEAL ? know some one who eats seal or if your ancestors depended on Seals to live or family today. LIFE . SHARE THE LOVE I LOVE TO EAT SEAL OR WEAR IT NEWFIE LOVE PS WE SHOT SEALS WITH GUNS, OTHER COUNTRY'S SHOOT EACH OTHER WITH GUNS AMEN AND WOMAN .........

  • Barb
    March 25, 2014 - 16:24

    Glad there is a forum to post this comment and hope it goes viral.... How many of these 'activists' have ever watched the show Swamp People?? They have a TV show featuring the killing of alligators and people love to watch it!!!! Why arn't they boycotting this program?? I guess if the gators looked like seals it wouldnt be on TV!!!! A little biased huh!

    • Ira Gould, 6th Generation Newfoundlander
      March 29, 2014 - 10:28

      Barb, this is so true. Rino in Africa, harvest the Ivory tusks. I think the problem is that people would enact violent rage on anyone who might interfere with their lively hood. The demonstrators are well aware that this would be the case. We are a very passive people. Many around the world would take advantage of this. Sometimes being civil is not always the best choice in such matters. I would not condone violence either. These demonstrators should have to meet with very stringent laws and regulation to even acquire a permit to go near any seal herd. We could enact legislation which would make it illegal if all the necessary paper is not in order and all the safety or environmental regulations are not adhered too. We can get tough in other arenas of combat. Lobby the local MHA and MP, it cannot hurt. just a suggestion. Keep well.

    • Ira Gould, 6th Generation Newfoundlander
      March 29, 2014 - 10:28

      Barb, this is so true. Rino in Africa, harvest the Ivory tusks. I think the problem is that people would enact violent rage on anyone who might interfere with their lively hood. The demonstrators are well aware that this would be the case. We are a very passive people. Many around the world would take advantage of this. Sometimes being civil is not always the best choice in such matters. I would not condone violence either. These demonstrators should have to meet with very stringent laws and regulation to even acquire a permit to go near any seal herd. We could enact legislation which would make it illegal if all the necessary paper is not in order and all the safety or environmental regulations are not adhered too. We can get tough in other arenas of combat. Lobby the local MHA and MP, it cannot hurt. just a suggestion. Keep well.

  • Debbie
    March 25, 2014 - 12:36

    Beautiful work!!

  • Alicia
    March 25, 2014 - 12:23

    I'm Pro Seal Hunt and retweeted (up to 42 times now).

  • Dudley
    March 25, 2014 - 12:17

    Does ANYONE out there possibly remember on her TV show from many years ago, she once made fun of Newfies with a reference to us breastfeeding Caribou?? I watched that episode and have never forgotten it. She lost credibility way back then. Why is it these so-called celebrities can invade our society or poke fun at us with little accountability or regard? What would the response be if the group she was intruding upon was the Jewish, Hispanic, Polish or African-American sector of the North America? Think about it.

    • Dawson
      March 28, 2014 - 23:07

      I do remember the show when she made the comment on breastfeeding Caribou. I lost respect for her then and haven't watched much of anything she has done since. It doesn't surprise me that she is at the same level. Rodney Mercer said it all. Fair is fair but........... I hope Rick Mercer is reading.

  • Alicia
    March 25, 2014 - 12:12

    I'm Pro Seal Hunt and retweeted (up to 42 times now).

  • Connie Jesseau
    March 25, 2014 - 11:39

    It really makes me sad to see Ellen Dgeneres react that way to out seal hunt. I wish she would have learned more about the seal hunt before she made that comment.

  • Donna
    March 25, 2014 - 10:37

    Rick Mercer should be made aware of this as well. I think he would give it the attention it needs. What a fantastic form of art!!!!

    • Ira Gould, 6th Generation Newfoundlander
      March 29, 2014 - 10:39

      Alicia, this is so true. Rhino in Africa, harvest the Ivory tusks. I think the problem is that people would enact violent rage on anyone who might interfere with their lively hood. The demonstrators are well aware that this would be the case. We are a very passive people. Many around the world would take advantage of this. Sometimes being civil is not always the best choice in such matters. I would not condone violence either. These demonstrators should have to meet with very stringent laws and regulation to even acquire a permit to go near any seal herd. We could enact legislation which would make it illegal if all the necessary paper is not in order and all the safety or environmental regulations are not adhered too. We can get tough in other arenas of combat. Lobby the local MHA and MP, it cannot hurt. just a suggestion. Keep well.

  • Ashley
    March 25, 2014 - 09:27

    Way to go Rodney! :)

  • jessica
    March 25, 2014 - 08:36

    you should mail her the portrait!

  • Kathy
    March 25, 2014 - 08:25

    I have seen this piece of art .....it is quite a statement. It is on display at local art gallery - JL Gallery and Design on Broadway.

  • Sam
    March 25, 2014 - 05:53

    I retweeted AND @mentioned Ellen DeGeneres. Let's see what she thinks!! Awesome work Rodney!