Monday, May 23, 2011

Impractical Art with a Practical Purpose

When I found out about the MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte/Underwater Museum of Art) on Isla Mujeres, I couldn't believe something so incredible existed. In the beautifully clear waters surrounding the island just off the coast of Cancun is the largest underwater museum on the planet.

But what is most compelling about this project is that the artist, Jason deCaires Taylor, in collaboration with marine biologists and other experts, has created sculptures which are designed to become artificial reefs and are constructed from special materials which promote marine life.

Because of this, the sculptures change in their appearance, as coral grows and marine life establishes itself. It is hoped that the underwater museum will lure tourists away from the area’s natural coral reefs which have become damaged over the years.

The sculptures - Dream Collector, Man on Fire and The Gardener of Hope were installed first, then Silent Evolution was completed in November 2010. All were submerged to a variety of different depths throughout the national park and can be visited either by snorkeling or scuba diving. Silent Evolution can also be seen from a boat on the surface where the 400 pieces form the silhouette of an eye.

Dream Collector features dozens of bottles containing messages of encouragement sent from around the world.

Man on Fire has 75 holes planted with fire coral. A lonely and imposing figure stands 8 meters deep. Dream Collector and Man on Fire are both located just off the south end of Isla.

The Gardener of Hope, only 4 meters below the surface, depicts a young girl lying on a garden patio surrounded by vivid coral-filled vessels and is located off of Punta Nizuc, Cancun.
Silent Evolution is a breath-taking site with over 400 life-size sculptures.

“Casts for The Silent Evolution were taken from a broad cross-section of society, predominantly Mexican, and from all walks of life. Sculptures range from Rosario, an 85-year old nun, to Santiago, a 3-year boy, with various occupations represented from around the globe, including an accountant, yoga instructor, fisherman, student, acrobat, carpenter and park ranger. The installation portrays a gathering of people, illustrating how we are all facing serious questions concerning our environment and our impact on the natural world. The work is optimistic and forward looking, expressing hope that there will be unity in dealing with this problem.” You must see more pictures at:

(c) 2009 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved

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