I have vivid memories of myself as a child dreaming about life under the sea. I don’t know if it was from reading 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea one too many times or whether it was just natural curiosity,
but I feel pretty confident saying that the underwater museum in Punta Cana would have been a dream come true. The museum captures the feeling of exploring the unknown and finding yourself in contact with something ancient and beautiful. All of the sculptures on display are there to provide a connection to the Taino culture as all of the sculptures are of important indigenous figures.
The art is a joint project between the artist Don Thimo Pimentel and a project coordinator named Susanne Leib, both of whom wanted to work on this project to honor their Dominican roots. Not only do the sculptures provide a glimpse into what was important in Taino culture, but they also provide a second purpose in offering a habitat for seaweed and plankton as well as food for small fish in the area.The sculptures are more than just a link to the past, they are also a part of the ecosystem.
Don Thimo Pimentel is not only the thoughtful sculptor and ceramic artist behind the museum but also one of the people honored at the Punta Cana International Airport, where he has a terminal named after him as well as a prominently displayed ceramic mural.
His work with ceramics is stunning, and it is clear from following him on Facebook that all of his work is driven from a kind heart and brilliant mind. As an authorial sidenote, Thimo Pimentel’s Facebook page is a must follow. His ability to post terse, serious messages about social causes while following it up with silly jokes, and beautiful artwork makes him a joy to follow.
But,Thimo Pimentel is not the full story of the museum. The artwork itself tells an even bigger picture than it may look like at first glance. As mentioned earlier, all of the figures represented in the museum are important figures in Taino culture. Among them are sculptures of Aumatex, god of the hurricanes; Atabeira, the supreme goddess and “mother of the waters”; and Boinayel the “son of the serpent” who brings rain clouds. These figures all had deep meaning to the Taino people and are a way of connecting the island’s ancestral past to its present. And, the connection does not end with the figures themselves. The placement of the figures is designed to mimic the Great Bear constellation (commonly known as Ursa Major), which was important to Taino Culture.This museum attempts to go to the heart of what life means to modern Dominicans and bridge the gap to the Taino who originally inhabited the island.
While there are certainly other underwater museums in the world, none of them can offer the thought provoking and historical art that we see here. It provides a connection to the history of the island while simultaneously providing a place for future life to flourish. It is in every sense a representation of the history and the future of the island, and it is a valuable museum for tourists and locals alike.
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