I travelled to Antarctica in 2006 as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Antarctic Artist and Writers Program fellow. There, I created a series of works on paper by melting ice samples scientists gave me from their research on how human impacts on global climate are melting the Antarctic glaciers.
“Underwater HOA” depicts South Florida’s vulnerability to those melting glaciers: The Village of Pinecrest, Florida will encourage its residents to install an “Underwater HOA” yard sign (similar to the 18” x 24” yard signs realtors use to sell houses) on their front lawn during the first week of December 2018. The yard sign will show how many feet of melting glacial water must rise before their property is underwater. I numbered each yard sign from 0 to 17 feet, the land elevation range for the 6,000 houses in this upscale village south of downtown Miami. The signs’ backdrop show the watercolor paintings I made in Antarctica by melting ice from the very glaciers that threaten to melt and drown Miami.
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.
My socially-engaged environmental art practice aims to help address the problem at hand: As part of the effort, I will charter a homeowner’s association where members are organized by property elevation–the most important metric any coastal community need consider. By asking participants to join Underwater HOA, www.underwaterHOA.com, I engage my neighbors as problem-solvers who will learn together and work together now to plan and better prepare (themselves and their heirs) for the chaos to come.
(Underwater HOA official meeting notice: Our inaugural meeting is scheduled for January 9, 2019 at 7 pm at Xavier Cortada’s studio in Pinecrest Gardens. We will elect officers and ratify the by-laws. One vote per household. Only individuals bringing picture IDs and proof of elevation will be allowed to vote.)