Ama Maria in San Antonio, TX

It is official.  The beautiful and charming City of Tarpon Springs on the west coast of Florida is getting a fabulous 6′ 4″ bronze mermaid statue this spring.

The statue will tie in perfectly with the city’s strong tradition of cultural arts, with its strong Greek heritage, its tradition of diving for sponges and with its status as a haven for manatees.

The idea was proposed by yours truly to the Tarpon Springs Public Art Committee last year, and the idea was well received.  The Public Art Commission did a fabulous job of surveying city officials and prominent citizens for feedback on the idea.   Finding enthusiastic support from every quarter, a full proposal was made to the City Board of Commissioners, who authorized the project in December.   Final details were decided last week and the statue is currently in the process of being cast in bronze.

The statue, “Ama of Tarpon Springs”, is part of the Amaryllis Art for Charity project sponsored by German company Koh-i-Noor, which aims to eventually place 100 similar Ama statues across the world in locations of great beauty that are near water.  Ama of Tarpon Springs will be the 17th statue in the series, and the first on America’s East Coast.

The name Ama comes from the Japanese word Ama, referring to traditional pearl divers in Japan, similar to the haenyo divers of South Korea. Ama is also the nickname of French artist Amaryllis, who created the Ama mermaid sculpture as well as many other mermaid art pieces.

The Ama statue will be placed at the northernmost point of Craig Park, overlooking Spring Bayou and visible from the park, from the bayou waterways and from across the water. The statue will include a traditional vase sponge at the mermaid’s feet, and an engraving of a manatee on the base.

The Ama of Tarpon Springs project has been covered in the media by the Tampa Bay Times and the Suncoast News.