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Submerged art attracts crowds from both worlds

The young girl’s face is awash with the serene muted light of the sea as she lays on her belly, feet kicked up, admiring the coral stretching out from the pot in front of her.

She is dusted with a light coating of algae and appears indifferent when either human or fish swims up to stare her square in the face.  Her only concern seems to be the expanding, skeletal branches of coral.

There is a tranquil eeriness to the underwater scenes capturing Jason deCaires Taylor’s submerged statues.  The young girl is the subject of La Jardinera del la Esperanza (The Garden of Hope). And, just one of several scenes and hundreds of sculptures he has buried beneath the waters of Cancun.  

La Jardinera del la Esperanza

La Jardinera del la Esperanza (The Garden of Hope) is one of the pieces in Jason deCaires Taylor’s underwater exhibit in Cancun, Mexico. — Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

The sculptor’s vision is equal parts art and environmentalism meshed together to promote the local economy and eco-system.  The statuary doubles as an attraction and an artificial reef.Building artificial reefs is nothing new.  A National Geographic article about the sinking of the Vandenberga U.S. decommissioned missile-tracking ship, dates it back to at least the 1830’s when fisherman sunk logs strapped together to attract fish.

However, there is some controversy as to whether or not the effort to build reefs is environmentally sound.

The immersed, man-made barriers create a new hot-spot on the ocean floor attracting marine life, from algae to predators, layer-by-layer.  It not only changes the natural course of the eco-system; it brings traffic from above the waves as well.

The draw goes beyond sea-creatures.  Fishermen see it as a sweet spot, primed for their hooks. For tourists it’s a place to explore the strange and exotic world of underwater life.

The two worlds collide much like the arguments for and against the artificial reefs.

The need to build up coral reef comes directly from the evolving human interaction below the surf.

Bipeds are, of course, a part of nature.  Our existence has revolved around water sources since our very beginnings. Fishing, swimming, and exploring the seas is not a new trend for the species.  

On the other hand, large-scale, industrial fishing and tourism, combined with the enormous population of people, puts a strain on natural resources like no other time in human history.

Or, like many other times when people and resources have maxed sustainability.

While the arguments on whether the symbiotic relationship will have a negative or positive impact on either world goes on, the interaction between the two continues.


Visit Jason’s Web site to see the full collection in photographs.

Jason’s work inspires other artists. I found this song while researching for the story:


About Dirty Diatribe

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