Ernest Vasquez and Sierra Rasberry are two local artists who want to make mythical mermaids a reality.
The couple created the 1000 Mermaids Project this year with a goal of creating an underwater sculpture garden using cement and limestone body molds transformed into beautiful mermaids.
Vasquez and Rasberry are a perfect mermaid-making team. Vasquez studied ceramics and sculpture at Arizona State University and Rasberry has been drawing, sketching and creating artwork since she was a kid.
“I’m more technical and detail oriented and he thinks more abstract and big picture,” Rasberry said of their collaboration.
Two years ago they started Miami Body Cast, working with private clients to create commissioned body sculptures for homes and yachts. When one of their initial clients requested art for his yacht, Vasquez and Rasberry thought that instead of creating a simple nude sculpture, they would create a mermaid —a nod the nautical feel of the vessel. Long story short: the client got divorced, lost his prized yacht and then was obviously uninterested in the masterpiece Vasquez and Rasberry had made.
With an unwanted mermaid sculpture in their studio, the couple started brainstorming. The more research they did on coral bleaching and destruction, the more they knew their next project had to support ocean conservation. And that’s when the 1000 Mermaids Project was born.
The lovely @cheyenneelee posing for her mermaid casting on top, and mid process for the fiberglass on bottom. This piece will be for display only to help raise awareness for the #1000mermaids artificial reef project! If you haven’t heard, go check out www.1000mermaids.com @urnyv @missurbanlala #bodycast #fiberglass #sculpture #savethereef #fortlauderdalebeach #lasolas #wynwood @choose954 #sobe #miamibeach #blackgrouper
Vasquez and Rasberry hope to raise enough money by next spring to complete then sink their first mermaid sculpture garden accompanied by an artificial reef. The goal is to turn it into an underwater public art installation and snorkeling/scuba tourists attraction that helps existing natural reefs recover.
The duo has bodycasted 104.3 the Shark’s Toast and Ashley O live on air. And they will be at Riptide Music Festival where they will be doing a live mermaid body cast demonstration. They already have a wait list for mermaid wannabes.
So far, the duo has hired a group of certified divers to video general observations of marine life and to make sure there are no natural reefs around their anticipated drop site between the W Fort Lauderdale and the Lauderdale by the Sea pier. The footage will be presented to Broward County’s Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division. Then the project has to be presented to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to assure it is safe for sealife.
“We want to leave a legacy as a couple,” Rasberry says. “It’s easy to look past what’s inside the ocean and only see the horizon. We want to change that by creating more awareness and hopefully trigger inspiration for future generations.”