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Monday, June 13, 2011

"Bodies" Fill Underwater Sculpture Park

The installation is the first endeavor of a new underwater museum called MUSA, or Museo Subacuático de Arte.

Created by Mexico-based British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, the Caribbean installation is intended to eventually cover more than 4,520 square feet (420 square meters), which would make it "one of the largest and most ambitious underwater attractions in the world," according to a museum statement.

Visitor From Above

More than 400 of the permanent sculptures have been installed in recent months in the National Marine Park of Cancún, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc (map of the region) as part of a major artwork called "The Silent Evolution."

"Lucky" Statue

The people in "The Silent Evolution" were created from live casts of a wide sample of people, most of them locals—including Lucky, a Mexican carpenter (center).

School of Rock

The sculptures (pictured in December) are made of a special kind of marine cement that attracts the growth of corals, according to creator Taylor. That in turn encourages fish and other marine life to colonize the reef.

Blowing Bubbles

"The manifestation of living organisms cohabiting and ingrained in our being is intended to remind us of our close dependency on nature and the respect we should afford it," according to a museum statement.


An activist comes face-to-face with an underwater "Silent Evolution" statue in December during a campaign for action on global warming.

Deep in Thought

Already the exhibition (pictured in December) is drawing more divers, and area dive-tour providers are hoping the underwater museum boosts business and supports reef health, according to a museum statement.

Work in Progress

Taylor works on a cast of Charlie Brown, a 67-year-old Mexican fisher with Chinese ancestors, at the sculptor's studio in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, in February 2010. The sculptures are made from cement, sand, micro silica, fiber glass, and live coral.

Casting Call

Portraits of Puerto Morelos, Mexico, residents hang on the wall of Taylor's studio in February 2010. To make the Caribbean underwater sculptures, Taylor is choosing a wide variety of local residents and creating molds of their bodies.


Before being taken underwater, "Silent Evolution" sculptures stand on a Cancún, Mexico, beach in September 2010. Upon the installation's completion, the total weight of the statues will total more than 180 tons, according to a museum statement.

Into the Drink

Silent Evolution" sculptures are lowered into the waters off Cancún in late 2010. Along with creator Taylor, a team of artists, builders, marine biologists, engineers, and scuba divers are working together to complete the installation.

Bottom Dwellers

Silent Evolution" sculptures (pictured in October) sit in just 30 feet (9 meters) of water, which allows visitors in glass-bottomed boats to also observe the artwork, according to a museum statement.

Caribbean Cancún

Placing the statues (bottom) off the shores of Cancún (above) was a strategic move, according to a museum statement.

Heavenly Plea

"Kelly," modeled from a U.K. social housing officer (pictured in December 2010), was rendered looking up, with his hands open to symbolize questioning or prayer, according to Taylor. MUSA, the underwater museum, plans to add sculptures as funding becomes available.