“I think art is the perfect vehicle of expression,” says Cortada. “It’s a new language that everybody has to work with.”
Cortada has touched many teenagers’ lives through his mural painting. He’s taken the art form to street kids in Bolivia, painted alongside Puerto Rican gang members in Philadelphia, and worked with immigrant children at a Colorado school.
Yet for Cortada, these colorful collages are not just about making art. By giving these teenagers the opportunity to participate in such a collaborative effort, he hopes that they will become better integrated into the community and take pride in themselves.
Cortada attributes much of the way he uses art as a contemporary form of social commentary to the University of Miami. The three-time University almumnus was an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine from 1993 to 1996. In fact, it was here that Cortada learned about various community development strategies, which he has incorporated into his mural work.
Work is going so well, that Cortada was recently commissioned by Nike to produce two, 24-foot tall glass mosaic murals for the new Niketown buildings at the Shops at Sunset Place in South Miami.