Xavier Cortada is Professor of Practice: Artist at the University of Miami as a faculty member of the Department of Art and Art History.
His science art practice is oriented toward social engagement and environment concerns. The artist has created art installations at the Earth’s poles to generate awareness about global climate change at points in between: 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, he planted a green flag at the North Pole to reclaim it for nature and launch an eco-art reforestation effort.
Cortada often collaborates with scientists in his art-making:
- He serves as Collaborator on the Antarctic McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) project.
- At CERN, Cortada worked with a physicist to develop a site-specific art installation capturing the five search strategies which 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.
- Cortada currently serves on the Committee of Scientists (COS) at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, where he worked with scientists in developing a water cycle visualization project driven by real-time data collected at a watershed in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
- Collaborating with the Florida Coastal Everglades LTER team at Florida International University (FIU), Cortada developed works depicting the glass shells of diatoms preserved in sedimentary core samples studied by scientists to grow our understanding of sea level rise in South Florida. (From 2011-18, Cortada served as Visiting Professor/Administrator and Artist-in-Residence at FIU College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts and in the School of Environment, Arts and Society, FIU College of Arts, Sciences & Education.)
Recent works that address Sea Level Rise and Global Climate Change include:
Earlier works include:
- Testamento | City of Hialeah (2016)
- Hot for Hialeah | Union of Concerned Scientists and Florida International University (2016)
- Just Below the Surface (Founding of Miami Beach) | Florida Coastal Everglades LTER (2015)
- Endangered World: Biscayne National Park (2010)
- Native Flags: North Pole | NYFA Sponsored Artist (2008)
- Longitudinal Installation | NSF Antarctic Writers and Artists Fellowship (2007)
- Antarctic Ice Paintings | NSF Antarctic Writers and Artists Fellowship (2007)
- The Reclamation Project | Frost Science Museum (2006)
The Miami artist has also worked with groups globally to produce numerous collaborative art projects, including peace murals in Cyprus and Northern Ireland, child welfare murals in Bolivia and Panama, AIDS murals in Switzerland and South Africa, juvenile justice murals and projects in Miami and Philadelphia, and eco-art projects in Taiwan, Hawaii, and Holland.
Cortada has also been commissioned to create art for CERN, the White House, the World Bank, Florida Botanical Gardens, Miami City Hall, Miami-Dade County Hall, the Florida Turnpike, Miami-Dade Housing Authority, the Frost Science Museum, Museum of Florida History, and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum
Corporations such as General Mills, Nike, Heineken and Hershey’s have commissioned his art. Publishers like McDougal and Random House have featured it in school textbooks and publications. His work has also been featured in National Geographic TV and the Discovery Channel.
Cortada’s studio is located at Pinecrest Gardens where he serves as artist-in-residence, implements his participatory art projects and runs the Hibiscus Gallery. The artist also serves on boards of various national, regional and local groups, including: University of Miami Alumni Association, South Arts, Climigration, and the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council, where he serves as Chairman.
Cortada, who was born in Albany, New York and grew up in Miami from the age of three. He holds three degrees from the University of Miami: Bachelor of Arts, College of Arts and Sciences (1986), Master of Public Administration, Miami Business School (1991) and Juris Doctor, School of Law (1991)