Mexico's natural art gallery: Introducing ‘SFER IK Uh May’ on the Yucatán Peninsula
The natural art gallery is one-part tropical grove, one-part human-made structure.
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Located in the Yucatán Peninsula, SFER IK Uh May is a natural art gallery bridging human-made structures with the walls of nature.
The art gallery was opened in 2018, and has undergone a journey since including a pandemic closure and its eventual reopening.
Crafted by a large, local team during the span of a year, the gallery incorporates log bridges and a flower garden to better integrate the structure into nature.
The gallery’s home, the Yucatán Peninsula, separates the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico in Central America.
The peninsula also includes three Mexican states — Yucatán, Quintana Roo, and Campeche — most of Belize, and parts of Guatemala.
With a population of 5.1 million people, Mérida is the most-populated city on the peninsula. Mestizos and Maya groups make up the majority of the population.
Part tropical grove, part structure, the peninsula’s art gallery formally welcomes its visitors with bejuco vines strung about the greenery, an early slice of the site’s unique biome.
As SFER IK Uh May is a hybrid between indoors and out, while mostly remaining outdoors, nature overtakes the structure where it sees fit.
There are nearly 200 trees growing in the gallery. They were present prior to its 2018 opening.
The gallery does not stunt the ambition of a tree's growth, instead allowing them to grow where they please. With 10 acres to the site, it would be an arduous undertaking not to.
The museum’s founder, Eduardo Neira, does not consider the trees decoration, but instead a “profound effort to recognize that we are part of nature,” said the founder.
This model makes the gallery an ever-changing affair, one which its retainers believe will be unrecognizable come another six months.
Unnatural materials used in the structure include fiberglass, concrete, and air conditioning systems.
Despite these materials, the museum’s founder, who prefers the alias Roth to his surname, says the gallery is still low-impact in its carbon emissions.
Roth's response reflects an in-demand question within the art world: how may art persist when the industry has a history of high carbon impact to answer to?
This carbon impact is due to contributors such as a long-time reliance on frequent air travel to ship and import art.