“The Scream Balloon,” as Wellesley students affectionately call it, has officially been elected as mascot of the Science Center on campus. The balloon appeared about a week ago and has already solidified itself as an essential part of student life.
“It just embodies the essence of how I feel as a student, especially during midterm season,” Aliya Casey ’18 explained. “Its expression is just so distressed and it’s nice to feel some solidarity every so often, you know? With all of the work I have to finish, I feel like my face is reflected in this balloon.”
The balloon is a three dimensional version of the figure in the modern painting “The Scream,” by Edvard Munch. As the newest resident of Wellesley campus, the Scream Balloon floats through the Science Center, popping up in unexpected places.
“The entire time I was having a conversation with my friend, the Scream was standing behind me. Maybe someone put it there, maybe it just knows the perfect student to scare at any given moment all by itself, but I turned around and, well, I screamed,” Kelly Munn ’17 recounted.
Lilly Han ’19 also did not have a pleasant experience the first time they saw the Scream Balloon either.
“Everywhere I looked, the Scream was there. It was in the Sage Lounge, the Leaky Beaker, even the green houses when I tried to find some peace. I felt like I was being followed; I was constantly paranoid that the balloon would be behind me with that same expression all the time,” Han said. Their friend later admitted to Han that she got bored of her homework and thought that it would be a fun practical joke.
Although the figure has been known to inspire fear into the hearts of students who are in the Science Center after dark, rivaling the effects of the “Sleepwalker,” it has become a welcome member of the student body. For those students who practically live in the Science Center, one could even call the Scream Balloon a dear friend.
“It was a little bit cold in the building and the scream looked like it deserved warmth just like any other student,” Han said. “I gave it my jacket and bought it a new scarf that would really bring out some of the paint streaks across his face and the tan-ish color in its eyes.”
STEM majors have found that its presence has become rather comforting during the long nights sitting in Sage Lounge. Students are often found sitting by the balloon and completing work or taking the occasional selfie.
“There’s something about its unchanging expression that, although the face is constantly in a scream, reminds me that there is something constant in my life no matter how much my biology grades fluctuate,” Casey said.
There has been little backlash over the appointment of the scream balloon as the official mascot, although Munn believes that there is something, as she put it, “off” about the balloon.
“I don’t know who sent it here or for what purpose,” Munn said, lowering her voice. “It just showed up one day and I feel like I’m the only student who’s questioning its sudden infiltration into the daily lives of Wellesley students.”
However, others, including professors, have petitioned for the balloon to be instated as the official mascot of the school. They feel that the expression of frustration in the face and the iconic nature of the original artwork can act as an fitting and appropriate representation of the college. Casey has already begun sewing costumes in hopes that the administration approves of the proposal.
“We need something that represents the student body — something more concrete than ‘blue,’ you know?” Casey said. “And the Scream Balloon has become such a prominent part of our daily lives as STEM majors. It has become a friend, a source of comfort and a presence to look forward to when we walk into the building.”