Xavier Cortada stands in front of the CMS Experiment at Point 5 of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, 100 meters below ground in Cessy, France.

Xavier Cortada, Miami’s pioneer eco-artist, uses art’s elasticity to work across disciplines to engage communities in problem-solving. Particularly environmentally focused, his work aims to generate awareness and action around climate change, sea level rise, and biodiversity loss. He has created art at the North and South Poles to address environmental concerns at every point in between. Over the past three decades, the Cuban-American artist has created more than 150 public artworks, installations, collaborative murals, and socially engaged projects.

Cortada, winner of the 2024 National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Excellence in Science Communications Award, often collaborates with scientists in his art-making. In 2007, as a National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program Fellow, Cortada used the moving ice sheet beneath the South Pole as an instrument to mark time; the art piece will be completed in 150,000 years. In 2008, as a NYFA-sponsored artist, Cortada planted a green flag at the North Pole to reclaim it for nature and launch an eco-art reforestation effort. His polar works led to the creation of “The Underwater,” a community-led climate action campaign that has been recognized by the United States’ 5th National Climate Assessment, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is the topic of Cortada’s 2022 TED Talk.

At CERN, Cortada worked with a physicist to develop a site-specific art installation capturing the five search strategies that the CMS experiment used to discover a new Higgs-like particle. The five giant banners hang at the location where the particle was discovered. He also worked with a population geneticist on a project exploring our ancestral journeys within and out of Africa 60,000 years ago, with a molecular biologist to synthesize an actual DNA strand made from a sequence randomly generated by participants visiting his museum exhibit, and with botanists in participatory eco-art projects to reforest mangroves, native trees, and wildflowers. Since 2012, Cortada has served as Artist-in-Residence at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, helping scientists develop a water cycle visualization project driven by real-time data collected at a watershed in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Cortada, who served as Miami-Dade County’s inaugural Artist-in-Residence, has been commissioned to create art for the White House, the World Bank, CERN, the Frost Art Museum, and Miami City Hall, among many other venues in the arts, sciences, and government sectors. He has received a Creative Capital Award, a 2021 Environmental Law Institute National Wetlands Award, and belongs to the State of Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Cortada was born in Albany, New York, and grew up in and currently resides in Miami, Florida. He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees from the University of Miami.

Click here to read the artist’s full biography and click here to download PDF catalogs about his work.