Cozumel Mexico's Public Art Collection
Cozumel Mexico has been going through a lot of changes ever since Hurricane Wilma paid us a visit. Anyone who is familiar with the island knows that it has never looked better. That is because when everything was destroyed after the storm everyone had to fix up at the same time! Not only that but the local government wisely decided to add a bunch of new public art that depicted its history.
The picture above is of a Mayan goddess walking on water. Notice the serpents on her head. Serpents had great significance in the Mayan world with all of its mysticisms. You will see signs of this everywhere you go in the Yucatan and the Mayas.
Cozumel was first introduced to Christianity between 1570 and 1600 AD when the island was finally abandoned thanks to the exploitation of the people brought on by Juan Pablo Grijalva. In this sculpture which is displayed in front of the Air Force military housing you can see a priest talking to the people from atop a Mayan Ruin. At the base of the stone replica of the ruin stand a bronze sculpture of a woman and her child bringing fruit as an offering. This is also shown on the second picture to the right.
As you move along the water front going south from the Air Force base you will find the bronze sculpture on the left. It is known as the "Cross-Breeding monument". Even though the name is a bit strange it actually has significance. The Aztecs were a warring group who basically conquered the Mayans and of course took their women to be their own. In this bronze sculpture you can see the Mayan woman and child sitting subservient to the Aztec warrior who is holding his spear (a second view is inserted to the right of the first). Hence you have the Cross-Breeding monument.
On either side of the Cross-Breeding monument you will find several depictions of stone carvings which are very common and seen throughout the Mayas. The most popular stone carving is the Mayan Calendar. However, most carvings are of their gods and speak of the history of their civilization. Stone monoliths and temples with carved figures can be seen everywhere. Many people are not aware of the fact that the Mayans loved to use color in their carvings. The reason for this is through the many centuries most of the color has been faded from the sun.
One of my favorite public art bronze sculptures is this one on the left. It is of a little girl playing a flute on top of a turtle. It is a beautiful piece. However, they had to remove it during Cozumel Carnival because they worried that the flute would be bent even more then it already is (due to a vandal). I'm not sure what the significance is of the girl sitting on top of the turtle but that really doesn't matter to me because I still think it is a beautiful work of art! She can be found going south along the water front after the Cross-Breeding monument.
This sculpture has to be one of the most animated bronze pieces on Cozumel without a doubt. Of course it is depicting a boy on top of a turtle with a little girl playing leapfrog over him. But what you don't see is that on top of the boys head are what appear to be some sort of ancient symbols. Just like the girl with the flute, these two youngsters are on top of a turtle and the turtle shell also has some strange inscriptions on it as well. As soon as I find out the significance of these inscriptions I will post it on this page.
One of the most popular pieces of public art just has to be this elaborate copper sculpture which represents what our island paradise is most famous for; its SCUBA diving and coral reefs. On the left is a woman diver and on the right is a man diving. The are surrounded by fish and coral reef fish, with a spectacular array of sea life! The entire sculpture is surrounded by a fountain in the shape of a starfish. This sculpture also has a very elaborate fountain and water not only shoots up from the bottom but also from around the divers and out of the arch on top. It is very impressive. The morning that I took these photos the fountain was not on. This is also a means of conserving the sculpture as it would otherwise oxidize and not last very long. It is one of our more fragile pieces. Below you will find two more close-up pictures of this fantastic work of art.
The bronze pirate on the right is actually a work that was finished in February 2008! This picture is one of the few remaining pictures of this piece and the statue was located where the transversal road ends in front of Mezcalitos. He was standing on top of a ships hull and it was to be illuminated by lights. They were also constructing a garden around the front of it to depict his landing on Cozumel (presumably to bury some treasure)! Unfortunately, This monument has been taken down as too many cars didn't see it at night! I guess they didn't put the lights on soon enough.
In the town square you will find yet another fountain. In the center is a whimsical bronze sculpture of a woman that morphs into a conch shell. The fountain is very elaborate and it even lights up at night. On the back side of the same sculpture you will see that the woman is no longer visible and that only the Conch shell is seen. It is a very cleaver and original piece. It is very appropriate that it adorns the center of the town square!
The shell has a woman on one side and the conch on the other. Very symbolic and very cool and creative.
I hope that you have enjoyed your tour of the islands public art displays. Make sure to notice them on your next vacation to Cozumel Mexico! They are definitely fine works of art by any measure and well worth seeing.