Cortada’s fascination with mangroves began in his childhood when he first saw the peculiar shape of the propagule floating near the surface of Key Biscayne’s waters. He came to think of these seeds as a metaphor for the immigrant: floating to a new shore, putting down roots and contributing to a fertile new home community.

Since Miami Mangrove Forest, a 2004 metaphoric reforestation of Downtown Miami neighborhoods, and Reclamation Project, a 15-year-long urban reforestation eco-art intervention beginning in 2006, mangroves have become a central theme in Cortada’s art in his public art, socially engaged art projects, and commissioned works.

The Reclamation Project also lives on today through Cortada’s iterations in Native Flags, Underwater HOA, Plan(T), FLOR500 and Flower Force, encouraging locals to restore native habitats as coastal cities like Miami plan for a future with rising seas.