Cultural Arts Alliance and Underwater Musem of Art Complete Third Sculpture Deployment
February 18, 2021 by SoWal Staff
The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA), South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA) and Visit South Walton celebrated the successful deployment of eight new sculptures in the Underwater Museum of Art (UMA).
With support from the Alys Foundation, Visit South Walton, Visit Florida and the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, the 3rd installation brings the total number of underwater works of art up to 25. The nation’s first permanent underwater museum of art is located in about 57 feet underwater and the coordinates for the center sculpture (SWARA Skull) are Latitude N30 18 45.262 Longitude W086 09 33.722.
In addition to providing a site for SCUBA diving that will be unique to the world, the sculptures are designed and selected with their suitability as marine habitat in mind, so even in the absence of SCUBA divers, the Underwater Museum of Art is certain to have many visitors, including schools of bait fish, grouper, sea turtles and dolphins!
For more information on the Underwater Museum of Art and sponsorship opportunities, visit https://umafl.org.
2020 UMA SCULPTURE AND ARTIST DETAILS
BEE GRAYT is inspired by artist Katie Witherspoon’s best friend who is a 3rd generation beekeeper based in Santa Rosa Beach, FL. Through her love of apiary knowledge, Katie also became more and more interested in the role that bees actually have in our ecological cycle. The artist owns an online plant shop called ‘Lil Plant Shop’ and has a love and passion for all things nature. The idea for BEE GRAYT came to her while deep in thought walking the beaches of SoWal. She became obsessed with the image in her mind and had to let the vision escape so it can become a reality for others to enjoy. She has a story to create and tell through a sculpture designed to bring education and knowledge to one of earth’s most important pollinators and potentially endangered animals, the Bee. With the loss of bees comes the loss of many plants. “Bee Grayt” is comprised of seventeen hexagons making the symbol of a honeycomb. The honeycomb is symbolic for strength, community, and peace. Her hope is that this modern image will remind us to stay connected, and keep thirsting for knowledge and understanding of how to keep these complex and intricate relationships sustainable between humans and animals.
BUILDING BLOCKS is the realization of a concept artist Zachary Long had about a year ago. He wanted to build a metal sculpture that would become the building blocks for new life to take place. He imagined a beautiful stainless structure that was bold, strong, and growing yet delicately balanced and struggling to cling to life. Zachary could see many changing angles and spaces allowing colorful sea life to be displayed and housed against the large blocks (which seem very small in an oceanic scale). These delicately balanced blocks are a reminder that life is fragile but that with some attention and time some of the most fragile and important organisms on our planet can thrive. To create any reason whatsoever to get people to care, become interested, and invested in our incredibly diverse and amazing underwater neighbors. This piece of art will be coming from Oklahoma City in the middle of our country. Even those who do not have an ocean in their backyard can make changes and spread awareness. Zachary hopes the selection of this piece will bring up discussions in middle America where people feel more disconnected from the problems facing our oceans. He wants to show others you can be part of a solution if you get creative with what you have, no matter where you live.
DAWN DANCERS designer Shohini Ghosh is a Denver-based artist originally from New Delhi, India. “Dawn Dancers” is a sculpture of two seahorses doing a dance. Seahorses are a flagship species, charismatic symbols of the coral reefs, estuaries and seaweed coastlines. The presence of Seahorses indicate the health of a reef system. ‘Dawn Dancers’ is a silhouette of two seahorses doing the hypnotically romantic mating dance, looking to creating a home at the Walton beach reef forever. My stenciled silhouette sculpture allows the underwater tides and sea life to move through the design and gives ample space for the corals and sea grass to grow on it without hiding the shape. This design will evolve into a fascinating sculpture of seahorses with a living and growing surface of coral on them.
ECO-BUG by Florida-based artist Priscilla D’Brito allows her to introduce the “Eco-Bug”, the beginning of a new series of aquatic insects that will venture the underwater world. UMA would be the first to have the “Eco-Bug” as this concept design will be spread throughout the world. The “Eco-Bug” can be accompanied by creative exotic plant sculptures as they journey the bottom of the ocean creating colonies. These insects will be magnified and accentuated to overtake the underwater world as it will contribute to be the home to diverse marine life. Their many limbs and robust segmented bodies will provide a sturdy base for proper installation and for the extensive function to foster marine life and coral growth throughout their bodies.
FROM THE DEPTHS by artist Kirk Seese evokes a childhood wonder about the mythical creatures that live in the depths of the sea. The concrete sculpture portrays a large stylized fish, something you might see as an illustration on a map to warn sailors about the treacherous waters ahead. With its mouth open, it offers a wide cave for smaller fish to hide in and has a 36″ diameter turtle escape hole towards the back. The artist poses these questions…will it seem too lifelike for the real fish to trust it? Will they swim in its mouth once they realize it’s not a threat? Will the sight of it scare the medium and large fish away, leaving the smaller ones in it’s mouth protected? Only time will tell.
Artist Jonathan Burger will construct an eight-foot tall mask form looking upwards towards the light filtering down through the water as the form for his sculpture, HOPE. The piece will only depict the front of the face, with a rough edge along the sides, leading down into a round neck form. Inspired by the broken forms of Greek and Roman sculptures, and by the work of Igor Mitoraj, the concept for this work deals with climate change, rising sea levels and the need for humanity to work together to solve these issues. As climate change affects our planet and causes sea levels to rise, many people who have previously lived on dry land above the water will find themselves flooded, much like the face of the sculpture. But this outcome is not entirely ensured, and can be slowed and hopefully prevented by the actions of our governments, corporations, and personal behaviors. The face looks up towards the light of the sun filtering down through the water in a symbol of this hope, that will we realize the scope of our actions and work to prevent such outcomes.
Husband and wife team, design duo, and dive buddies Ingram Ober and Marisol Rendón will co-create THREE WISHES. When we dive we are experiencing magic, the magic of being weightless, of traveling in a foreign environment, of shedding all but the most essential of concerns. For us every beam of light, every stone, animals large and small seem imbibed with magic and we are lucky to experience it. “Three Wishes” is about that magic and the search for it. Bringing together the desert like environment at the UMA site, a sublime sense of wonder derived from a change of perspective and scale, and the underlying search for magic and treasure wrapped up in each foray under the waves, we propose the construction of a giant scale genie’s lamp. Geometrically constructed from stainless steel rod in a 3D wire form format the surface of the lamp will be clean concrete. The imposing form of this lamp will strike a strong silhouette, at once at home within the shifting sands of Grayton Beach sea floor and strangely out of place surrounded by ocean life. The surface of the lamp will feature high relief geometric textures and indentions adding surface area and “nooks” for sea creatures to reside, the natural overhang of the lamp’s form provides structure and shelter for marine life. This artwork is not however intended simply for marine life to interact with, it comes to life with the addition of a foreign element, divers and the air we carry with us. Low on the belly of the lamp will be a few small ports below which a diver, posing for a picture pretending to rub the lamp, can purge air from their octopus regulator, and that air will enter the lamp and be carried to the spout of the lamp where it emerges like a genie to grant us wishes and fill our lives with magic.
Photos courtesy UMA and Visit South Walton