deCaires Taylor has been a prominent figure on the international environmental marine art scene for over 10 years now, starting when he debuted the world’s first underwater sculpture park off the west coast of Grenada in 2006. That initial West Indies location is now listed by National Geographic as one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World.
He followed that with Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA) in 2009, which features 500 of his works situated between Cancun and Mexico’s Isla Mujeres. With the opening of Museo Atlántico deCaires Taylor has created a series of 12 installations constructed on land with his specially formulated pH neutral concrete mixture that encourages marine and coral growth, then submerged them at a depth of 46 feet (14 metres) and spread them across an area of 164 x 164 feet (50 x 50 metres).
Obviously to visit this museum you’re going to have to get a little wet, so suit up. You’ll be swimming alongside undersea life such as angel sharks, shoals of barracuda, octopus and butterfly stingray, all of which have been spotted frequenting the site since deCaires Taylor’s team began installing figures in earnest back in February of 2016.
“We are entirely dependent on a natural world,” deCaires Taylor explains of the themes he’s touching on throughout the Museo Atlántico’s works, which include a piece entitled Crossing the Rubicon that features 35 figures walking listlessly towards a small entranceway situated in a 13-foot (4-metre) high, 98-foot (30-metre) long wall.
“We like to think we’re not, but we are. Oceans are fundamental to our existence, they may be out of sight, and obviously out of the minds, of many people yet we rely on them for so many things including the air we breathe.”
It was over two years ago that deCaires Taylor began what would eventually become Museo Atlántico, and in just that relative short span of time the artistic interpretations of the 12 installations featuring 300 sculpted locals have been re-examined by some despite deCaires Taylor’s initial intent and message.
“I was lucky,” he says of the mechanics behind his creative process at the time. “I was given a blank slate, to create what I wanted to make. That was one of the kind of attractive things for me, I could just work without any pre-conditions so it was mostly my own undertaking.”
Of course, that was before all the hoopla of the American presidential election and its end result: a Donald Trump administration making its way to the White House. “For me, obviously it’s a perfect storm of a series of different things all happening at the same time,” he asserts.
deCaires Taylor says of Museo Antlántico, “It takes on a much more serious tone now, much more of a critical issue. When people don’t believe scientific facts we really live in a lost world.”
“I want them to relate to issues, mostly issues about conservation, about climate change.”
One particular Museo piece entitled Deregulated features two suit-clad individuals on a sea-saw in a children’s park being enjoyed entirely by businessmen. The sea-saw is intended to represent a petroleum extraction pump, and some diving attendees of the Museo have noted a resemblance to President Trump with one of the businessmen.
Sometimes art gets to be the benefactor of the occasional coincidence, and deCaires Taylor is fine with that. “I’m interested in highlighting anything than can change our views or attitudes towards climate change.”
As the Museo Atlántico’s environmental mission becomes better known and aquatic life around the sculptures grows and hopefully flourishes for future generations deCaires Taylor hopes that people will continue to have the patience necessary to appreciate the message he and others like him around the globe are trying to present in an artistically meaningful way.
In this day of constantly barraging social media and 140-characters-or-less attention spans, he may have an uphill swim ahead of him but the world’s oceans will be a better place for at least his having tried.
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