Xavier Cortada: Art as a Statement to Save the Planet

Xavier Cortada is an accomplished and recognized artist based in South Florida. He is currently the artist in residence at Pinecrest Gardens in the Village of Pinecrest. His work has been exhibited in more than a hundred places around the country and the world. He is also a dedicated environmental activist deeply concerned about the natural world he loves, and its future.

I want to create an awareness about who we are as stewards of this planet

Xavier Cortada in an interview

One recent project was called “Flower Force,” which involved a meticulously constructed sculpture featuring ceramic flowers, installed in a traffic circle on Palmetto Bay on October 10th of this year. It was also an outreach project in which 200 registered Palmetto Bay households received a free hand-painted ceramic flower sculpture and a live wildflower plant to place in their own yards, to participate in Cortada’s eco-art reforestation effort to protect local pollinators and habitats.

 “We live in the here and now,” says Cortada. “It’s very hard for us to visualize what was. Our manicured lawns and landscapes once were wilderness. It’s hard for us to connect with our history. That wouldn’t be so tragic if the future consequences weren’t so dire, especially for Miami. As an artist, it’s my responsibility to try to create a piece that harkened to that moment. When creating art I look at the site specificity.”

Another recent project also involved the participation of homeowners. “Underwater HOA” depicted South Florida’s vulnerability to melting glaciers. Residents were encouraged to install an “Underwater HOA” yard sign on their front lawn during the first week of December 2018. The yard sign showed how many feet of melting glacial water must rise before their property is underwater.

Cortada with HOA Sign

“The signs’ backdrop shows the watercolor paintings I made in Antarctica by melting ice from the very glaciers that threaten to melt and drown Miami,” says Cortada. “By mapping the crisis to come, I make the invisible visible. Block by block, house by house, neighbor by neighbor, I want to make the future impact of sea level rise something no longer possible to ignore.”

Cortada arrived at the North Pole on June 29th, 2008, and planted a green flag to “reclaim it for nature,” concerned that as the Arctic sea ice melts, nations clamor to raise their flags over newly open waters to claim the natural resources that lie beneath them – oil, manganese, diamonds, fish – and to control shipping lanes.

His HELLO project, timed to coincide with the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, aims to reframe the way we see one another and our collective vulnerability due to global climate change and sea level rise. 

Cortada “HELLO” Project

Rather than using a traditional name tag, participants are challenged to instead identify themselves with qualifiers such as their personal elevation, hopes, and fears.

Artist Statement on Website

The background of each of the five “HELLO” name tags (elevation, fear, purpose, hope, future) features a different piece from Cortada’s Antarctic Ice Paintings series, created on-site using sea ice and sediment samples provided to him by scientists working alongside him in Antarctica in 2007. Cortada, a recipient of a 2006-2007 National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers fellowship, currently serves as professor of practice in the University of Miami Department of Art and Art History.

To learn more about his work visit https://cortada.com/

Published by garymiami

I'm a writer, artist, photographer and journalist. Married to Helen, the love of my life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: