I have always envied those who easily recall their dreams. Often I wake knowing that the sleeping me is having a far more exciting, intriguing life than the waking me, but even as I reach for that fresh dream it scurries behind my eyes and *poof* is gone. I remember pieces sometimes, intriguing pieces. Once I dreamed I was running away from something with my children in a wooden station wagon. To elude pursuit, I parked in an empty hangar and carved the car into a Mercedes. I’d like to know how the rest of that dream went, but, alas, it is gone. *poof*
Equally, I have always envied those who can make their dreams real. Jason deCaires Taylor is a powerful dreamer, indeed, and I am humbled by the pure good he is able to do in the service of his art.
The world is filled with people who can create problems; it is replete with the designators of blame, the publicly shocked who are privately indifferent. But there are relatively few who see a problem and say, “I can do something about that.” There are even fewer who then go ahead and do it. Taylor is one of those tiny few. He saw a problem so huge that most of the world’s governments aren’t even sure how to begin to address it, but rather than dithering about it, showed what one person can do if only he has vision and a little help.
I leave it to you to discover the scope of this magnificent work at his site here. It takes a long, long time to absorb it all.
This is sculpture with a purpose. Working with the government of Grenada. Taylor created an underwater sculpture garden which accomplished two things: first, it gave recreational divers an alternative to exploring and damaging nearby reef systems which are trying to heal, and second, will act as seeds for new reef systems of the future. His materials were selected based on their ability to blend in with and nurture the environment in which they would be displayed. Over time this sculpture will merge with the ocean itself, and new life will come from it. The use of human figures, modern figures, are meant to show our acceptance of responsibility. If we do not act to save the reefs, we are looking at a world where by the year 2050, according to most current estimates, ninety percent of the existing reef systems will be dead. The impact of such a loss would be catastrophic for the planet and everything upon it.
The underwater sculpture garden in Grenada opened in 2006. Already you can see the signs of emergent corals. Taylor is one man working with a little help. Imagine if all our governments devoted themselves to matching this effort. Some attempts are being made at building artificial reefs, but we could do a whole lot more for very little outlay.
His sculpture of the children in a ring, Vicissitudes, was cast from life and purposely uses children of different ethnicities to symbolize a recognition that what we do on the earth affects everyone. These children hold hands and face outward prepared for anything. They are going to change over time, as children do. But these children, these envisioned children, our children, are going to be together as we never were. They are. They will accept the challenge and they will return to the earth, and give to the earth, even as the earth has given to us all these times. And just as these young people change, so too will this artwork change and actually come alive.
The Silent Evolution is a newer, grander installation in the shallow seas off Cancun. Four hundred life size figures, everyday people, are gathered together working towards…what? If we do nothing to repair our damage, we will be gone. Even ants have the sense to clean up after themselves. Do not fool yourselves, it is only our own survival we hold in our hands. In the long run the sea and the earth will recover. They are older than us, they are bigger than us, and they know more tricks. Taylor challenges us to ask, “What can I do? How shall I start?”
Already his sculptures are changing. Already, the sea begins to heal, already the world rouses itself. If we want to see the world in its true glory, we need to get busy. We have to work to ensure that we are here when at last the world is well and awake lest we be no more than that dream the earth had, that interesting fragment of story hanging out there, just beyond memory until…