We’ve mentioned before our love for art, history, and museums. Venturing off to learn about different cultures, places, and to admire the work of artists fulfills the wandering spirit in most of us. Have you ever wanted to wander underwater? In 2018, The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA) partnered with South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA) to introduce the country’s first North America’s first underwater permanent sculpture exhibit. The Underwater Museum of Arts is located under 58 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico in Walton County. Since its inception, 18 sculptures have been deployed and admired by professional and amateur divers alike.
In 2020, UMA announced the next collection of art to be submerged. Here are our top three favorites that we hope to one day see in real life…through scuba goggles, of course.
Artist Katie Witherspoon has always had a passion for nature. She owns Lil Plant Shop, an online store offering unique, hard to find plants, and artisan-crafted vessels. But it was her best friend, a third-generation beekeeper, who inspired Katie to create ‘Bee Grayt.’ The sculpture consists of 17 hexagons forming the symbol of a honeycomb. Through this installation, Katie hopes to shed light on the importance of bees and how their pollination is vital for our planet and humankind. The honeycomb symbol also represents strength, community, and peace. It is to remind us of the intricate and delicate relationship between humans and animals. For more on ‘Bee Grayt,’ click here.
To be honest, we picked this installation because it reminded us of Disney’s Aladdin. (Top five best-animated films ever! This is not up for debate.) However, after learning why the husband and wife diving buddies designed the structure, we were even more inspired. Ingram Ober and Marisol Rendon will co-create Three Wishes, a stainless steel, geometrically constructed lamp that will entertain both the marine life and the divers who venture down to rub the piece. The designer duo says, “When we dive, we are experiencing three types of magic: the magic of being weightless, of traveling to a foreign environment, and of shedding all but the most essential concerns.” ‘Three Wishes’ brings all that underwater magic to life. The lamp comes alive when a diver releases air from their octopus regulator into the ports under the lamp. The air will then be carried to the spout of the lamp and appear as if a genie is emerging. Ha! It seems as if we weren’t too far off from the Aladdin theme. To learn more about Ingram and Marisol, click here.
Just the sketch of ‘Hope’ by Jonathon Burger is stunning. We can only imagine how breathtaking it will look sitting on the Gulf’s oceanic floor. Inspired by both Greek and Roman art, the eight-foot-tall mask sculpture will look up towards the sun, as light filters down through the water. He explains the meaning of the piece to be “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 as a symbol of this hope, that will we realize the scope of our actions and work to prevent such outcomes.” Learn more about ‘Hope’ here.
The Underwater Museum of Arts announced a total of seven new installations for 2020. To read about them, and the sculptures currently underwater, click here.
You can access UMA from Grayton Beach State Park, just 20 minutes from Hyatt Place Sandestin at Grand Boulevard. During our construction and design, we partnered with CAA to feature South Walton artists throughout the lobby. The Arts is something we all are passionate about, and we continuously support the CAA’s efforts to bring arts and creativity to our community.
During your next stay, rent some scuba gear and take a dive into the wonders of the sea!