Attention art lovers (particularly fans of whale sharks and the like): The little Mexican Caribbean island of Isla Mujeres off the coast of Cancun has some surprises for you. Fifteen of them, to be exact. You’ll see them gracing the walls of buildings spread around the island’s downtown area (which is so small you can walk from one side to the other in about 15 minutes).
The recently debuted project is called “Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans,” and it consists of 15 large murals created by some of the top names in contemporary street art. Each of the artworks depicts a whale shark, a stingray or another local marine character, drawn in the distinctive style of the individual artists.
According to the project’s organizer PangeaSeed, an international organization that encourages environmental activism on shark and other marine-related issues, Sea Walls’ goal is “to raise awareness for the conservation of the ocean and greatly needed protection for the whale sharks and manta rays off the Yucatan Peninsula, by means of art and creativity.”
In light of the numerous whale shark migrations to the coasts of Cancun and Isla Mujeres – the school-bus-sized sharks are said to be more abundant here than any other place on earth – “Isla Mujeres was the perfect location for PangeaSeed to host their latest and largest mural project,” said Jesus Almaguer, CEO of the Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Not only do these brilliant pieces of art add a more urban element to the island’s bohemian vibe, but they also complement the CVB’s recently launched turquoise initiative.”
The “Cancun Goes Turquoise” initiative “supports hotels, restaurants, tour operators and other entities in the destination that strive to become more environmentally-friendly.” (Turquoise is a combination of the colors blue and green, which are represented by the region’s lush jungles and crystalline waters – two of the area’s most important natural resources.)
PangeaSeed’s collaborators in the Sea Walls project include 1xRUN, Residencia Gorila, World Art Destinations, Juxtapoz Latin America and Mapla.
Contributing U.S. artists include: Tatiana Suarez, a Miami native; Hannah Stouffer, artist and illustrator living and working in Los Angeles; Tristan Eaton, a Los Angeles-based artist whose work is part of the permanent collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art; Celeste Byers, a San Diego artist and illustrator for a variety of companies; NoseGo, a Philadelphia-based artist with a passion for illustration and media arts; and Shark Toof, an artist whose work is part of the permanent collection at the Chinese American Museum. Participating international artists include: Curiot and Edgar “Saner” Flores from Mexico; Yoh Nagao from Japan; Pelucas from Spain; David “Meggs” Hooke and Vexta, from Australia; and Cinzah Seekayem and Aaron Glasson, from New Zealand.