This exhibition features Miami-based artist Xavier Cortada’s climate change-focused artwork from Miami-Dade County, Florida, and the North and South Pole, spanning 2007 to the present.

Cortada initiated The Underwater, a community-led climate action project, to raise awareness about sea level rise. It uses interactive public art installations, including yard signs, murals, and sustainable concrete markers, to reveal South Florida’s elevation, spark conversations, and spur civic engagement. Since launching The Underwater in 2018, Cortada has enlisted thousands of residents and students to look up their homes’ elevations and make yard signs. The artwork allows people to discover their neighborhood’s elevation above sea level, explore relevant online resources, and learn how they can get involved in local climate action. Several original artifacts from the project are on view in the exhibition.

The exhibition also features earlier examples of Cortada’s projects exploring ideas of global interconnectedness to raise awareness about the realities of climate change. He journeyed to the North and South Poles in 2007 and 2008, and these experiences heightened his desire to pivot his existing social practice to address the climate crisis. During these expeditions, he created various projects, including performance art, temporary art installations, ice sculptures, and paintings with water from Arctic and Antarctic Sea ice. He also planted flags as part of a participatory eco-art project to reclaim land for nature.

Xavier Cortada is a socially engaged artist who uses art’s elasticity to work across disciplines to catalyze communities in creative problem-solving. Over the last three decades, he has created more than 150 public artworks, installations, and collaborative murals across six continents and has made work at both Earth’s poles. Pioneering eco-art in Miami, his community-driven art has catalyzed over 25 acres of ecological restoration in Florida, yielded participatory projects in every Miami-Dade County public school and library, and sparked interdisciplinary initiatives to address sea level rise. Through his foundation, the Cuban American artist involves people in hands-on projects that generate awareness and inspire action around the climate crisis and other social justice issues. Cortada served as Miami-Dade County’s inaugural artist-in-residence and was inducted into the State of Florida Artists Hall of Fame. He is also a 2023 award recipient of the National Academies’ Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communications, which honor exceptional science communicators, journalists, and research scientists who have developed creative, original work to communicate issues and advances in science, engineering, or medicine for the public. He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees from the University of Miami.

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  • Exhibitions