The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA) and South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA) are proud to reveal the seven new sculpture designs, chosen by the jury for permanent exhibition in the fifth installation of the Underwater Museum of Art (UMA).
The 2023 installation will include the following pieces of sculpture: Quantum Reef by Chris Chubb (Tallahassee, FL), Space Nest by Frank Henderson (Evanston, IL), Welcome Home by Zachery Long (Oklahoma City, OK), Madam Nature by Andrew Luy (Huntsville, AL), Cetacean Remains by Pat Mclain (Stone Mountain, GA), One Tree by Ann Moeller Steverson (Huntsville, AL) Opus by Allison Wickey (Santa Rosa Beach, FL).
Named in 2018 by TIME Magazine as one of 100 “World’s Greatest Places,” the UMA is presented as part of CAA’s Art In Public Spaces Program and augments SWARA’s mission of creating marine habitat and expanding fishery populations while providing enhanced creative, cultural, economic and educational opportunities for the benefit, education, and enjoyment of residents, students, and visitors in Walton County.
UMA sculptures are deployed with SWARA’s existing USACOA and FDEP-permitted artificial reef projects that include nine nearshore reefs located within one nautical mile of the shore in approximately 58 feet of water. The 2023 installation will join the 34 sculptures previously deployed on a one-acre permit patch of seabed off Grayton Beach State Park, further expanding the nation’s first permanent underwater museum.
Deployment of the 2023 UMA installation is slated for Summer. Visit the UMA website for more information on the timeline and events surrounding UMA’s launch. Project and sculpture sponsorships are available.
Quantum Reef by Tallahassee, Florida architect Chris Chubb occupies 100 square feet of the 617,500 square MILE Gulf of Mexico. Relatively, this is similar to the infinitesimal size of a single atom compared to a dinner plate. The Quantum Reef invites the viewer to leave the human scale and enter the sub-atomic scale. Analogous to a dynamic atom, Quantum Reef is animated by schools of fish darting through the aluminum ‘shell’ and swirling about the limestone ‘nucleus’. The sculpture is intended to provide needed marine habitat, inspire multidisciplinary work and promote educational initiatives in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics).
Space Nest designer Frank Henderson is based in Evanston, IL. The sculpture is inspired by the beautiful homes of Diatoms, which often use circle packing to generate an ornate organic geometry from silicate. The nest is created by circle-packing various sizes of circles into a dome shape. The resulting form is incredibly strong and resilient while using minimal materials to create the maximum size and usable negative space. The title “Space Nest” refers to two things – the modern myth that diatoms are in-fact aliens using their silicate spaceships to venture to new lands in the process of panspermia, and the sense of space and openness that this geometric form gives to the nest itself. Its use of negative space adds to a sense of mystery and opportunity that the replicated silicate form provides. Marine life can swim through and around it as part of the artificial reef, to build and grow their own homes in. It serves as a cage of protection from predatory marine life while offering areas to move through and explore for other marine life and divers visiting the UMA.
Welcome Home by Illinois-based artist Zachery Long is a gesture we are all familiar with and can relate to. The sculpture has a two-fold meaning. Creating these three UMA letters is a thank you to the people making this new habitat a reality. “The Underwater Museum of Art is more important than we all know,” said Long. “It is a positive movement in the right direction leading by example to create net positives for our oceans.” Secondly, Welcome Home is a much-needed greeting sign for fish looking to re-home from their previously barren sand flats. Nothing says home like giant barrel sponges, corals, and a welcoming UMA sculpture. Each concrete letter will be evenly spaced to provide passageways for water currents and sea life. The concrete barrel sponges are of various sizes to provide different types of shelter and living spaces to the differing species.
Madam Nature artist Andrew Luy has maintained multiple saltwater aquariums, bred seahorses and propagated corals through fragmentation, and has grown phytoplankton, among other ocean life maintenance. With this project, he not only wants to create an aesthetically pleasing sculpture, but he also looks to create a sustainable habitat for sea life and corals. The top half will have crevices and holes similar to brain coral skeletons to allow for naturally occurring coral population and for coral plugs to be inserted to allow for any future propagation endeavors. The inner core of the globe will have a network of tunnels & holes, made of limestone and concrete to encourage invertebrates, fish, and other sea life to shelter. He designed the woman’s hair as an homage to the weedy sea dragon along with open areas to provide protective zones and to house long tip and other indigenous anemones to simulate flowing hair.
Atlanta-based artist Pat Mclain’s hope for the Cetacean Remains sculpture is for it to be an extremely interactive experience for the diver giving them the ability to swim through the piece like a tunnel. When he first heard of the museum his mind thought of something that would naturally be found on the ocean floor. Something that seemed prehistoric but was supposed to be there. Doing a simple segment of the body like the rib cage is a great stand-alone piece but could also grow with additions to the skeleton frame over time.
One Tree is an 8′ tall by 9′ wide by 9′ deep concrete sculpture depicting two trees grown together over time with their roots entwined from artist Ann Moeller Steverson. The fantastical branches of the trees feature four seasons, from blossoms to fruit, falling leaves, and the adornment of icicles. From the right angle, viewers would see the suggestion of a heart shape between the trunk and branches. The roots, in the style of a banyan tree, would have deep grooves that provide a perfect breeding ground/habitat for fish, algae, coral, and other marine life. The canopy of the trees would also provide an additional surface area, attraction, and shelter. The design of “One Tree” is an evolution of a painted commission that captured the hearts and imaginations of romantics worldwide and extends its story to the underwater world of Grayton Beach State Park. The painting was a gift from a husband to his wife, inspired by this expert from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
“Love is a temporary madness.
It erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides, you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,
And when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches,
They find that they are one tree and not two.”
The piece offers a unique enchanting destination for couples who wish to have their underwater nuptials beside it or just meet up under its branches
Opus is the second sculpture to be installed at the UMA for Santa Rosa Beach, Florida-based artist Allison Wickey who is also a founding partner of the project. The octopus is the ultimate mystery, embodying all that the sea symbolizes in one creature. Not only are they intriguing, but they are also elegant and mesmerizing to watch. They are known to ‘play’ with other species, walk on two legs and befriend humans. Although they have been portrayed as scary or dangerous they are actually peacemakers in her opinion. They seem to have a silly sense of humor while also being highly intelligent and can change themselves via color or shape to work their way out of bad situations. The combination of beauty, brilliance, and resilience is an enviable trait and the octopus has it all. Allison thinks the octopus is a good symbol for the times, as we learn to work our way out of new and strange issues in current society while retaining a sense of humor.