A Dozen Works Selected for Second Round of Underwater Art

The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA) and South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA) are proud to reveal the 12 sculpture designs selected by jury for permanent exhibition in the second installation of the Underwater Museum of Art (UMA).

The 2019 installation will include the following sculpture: Buttery by Alys Beach Construction (Alys Beach), To Refresh With Water by Beatriz Chachamovits (Sao Paolo, Brazil), Saguaro by Ghazal Ghazo (Tucson, Arizona), Aspiration by Shohini Ghosh (Highlands Ranch, Colorado), Flamingle by Rachel Herring (Santa Rosa Beach), Wave! by Benjamin Mefford (Wilsonville, Oregon), I Found It! by Ingram Ober and Marisol Rendon (San Diego, California), Love Thyself by Maxine Orange (Destin), Let’s Not Blow This by Kevin Reilly (Montgomery, Alabama), El Plastico by George Sabra (Georgetown, Teas), Depth of Decision by Gianna Stewart (Dorchester, Massachusetts), and X.Muta by Vince Tatum (Santa Rosa Beach).


Recently named 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 South Walton.


With support from the Alys Foundation, Visit South Walton, Visit Florida, and the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, UMA will be deployed with SWARA’s existing USACOA and FDEP permitted artificial reef project that includes nine nearshore reefs located within one nautical mile of the shore in approximately 50-60 feet of water. The 2019 installation will join the seven sculptures deployed last June on a one-acre permit patch of seabed off Grayton Beach State Park, expanding the nation’s first permanent underwater museum.


Deployment of the 2019 UMA installation is slated for summer. Visit UMAFL.org for more information on timeline and events surrounding the launch.


Project and sculpture sponsorships are available. Please contact Jennifer Steele at jennifer@culturalartsalliance.com for sponsorship details.



Buttery. A 12-foot replica of one of Alys Beach’s iconic butteries, which flank the town’s 30A entrances, anchoring the beautiful town while welcoming its visitors.


To Refresh with Water. This sculptural piece approaches the theme of ocean degradation through the concept of coral bleaching. The artwork depicts a cluster of different species of Florida’s corals (elkhorn, staghorn, brain and fire) and sponges (tube, vase and barrel) bleached, infused with forms of plastic waste that will be covered through time by new and healthy corals, so that its original white form disappears completely.


Wave! depicts a larger-than-life hand, will be constructed to facilitate coral growth utilizing Kansas fencepost limestone columns to create the bulk of the sculpture. These repurposed columns are relics from early settlers who split each block using rudimentary techniques.


El Plastico replicates a plastic bottle on a massive scale constructed of environmentally cast concrete. This representation of something that generally harms marine life can instead play a direct role in helping it flourish.


Saguaro is an eight-foot tall stainless steel sculpture of a cactus designed to promote thriving marine life. The saguaro cactus is a unique, famous, and distinct cactus that only grows in the Sonoran Desert, which extends into southern Arizona and the city of Tucson.


Depth of Decision is a gesture for the ocean, a sunken series of decisions. Nuances to the cast concrete doors will be visible during its preview on land, and various openings in its structure and doors will serve as artificial reef for marine life. This series of doors, of decisions, will submerge in among marine life that may wander about this unnecessary architecture. Useless, these doors will be forever stuck in various states of ajar, surrounded by nothing but ocean.


I Found It! This sculpture will consist of elements relating to a lost pirate treasure. The central element will be a six-to-seven-foot tall diamond ring consisting of a cast concrete band and a jewel fabricated with a stainless steel rod structure covered on the inside with expanded metal lath and covered in “clean concrete” to create a hollow volumetric diamond.


Let’s Not Blow This represents the earth as a fragile dandelion. The hand represents man’s potential to restore and protect our environment. It is meant, now more than ever, as a hopeful call to do all that we can to preserve our natural world.


Love Thyself. The theme is rooted in the concept of self-love. The collaborative team will create a sculpture of a woman appearing to stand in appreciation of her reflection in front of a mirror to visually represent an image of connecting with the power.


Flamingle. “Flamingos symbolize fun, relaxation, and socializing…perfect description for this creation,” says artist Rachel Herring. “The sculpture upholds my whimsical and playful art theme, and the shape of the columns along with the outlines of the flamingos will remain recognizable as growth occurs on the sculpture.”


Aspiration is a silhouette of a young girl’s face looking up in the longing at the wonders of the future. The sculpture has a beautiful balance of negative and positive space through and around which fish and turtles may swim without hindrance and on which corals can grow.


X.muta. Artist Vince Tatum explains: “My goal is to imitate Mother Nature’s blueprint as best I can, but with clean sprayed cement over rebar. I’ll leave the cement in its organic blown state, to mimic the ebbs and flows of the surface of a sponge, and to give X.muta the properties that make the Giant Barrel Sponge such an attractive and accommodating host to marine life.”

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