Xavier Cortada, “Flower Force,” hand-glazed ceramic, 2019
The original rendition of “Flower Force” was designed as a participatory eco-art project, however its current evolution expands on this by utilizing the traditional medium of sculpture, specifically ceramics, as a conceptual icon throughout the project’s dispersal. The ceramic flower, as it is dispersed throughout Florida similar to the wildflower seedlings, becomes an appropriation of the original wildflower. This appropriation works as both a conceptual representation of the ideals of “Flower Force,” as well as a literal one; the ceramic flower represents both the physical attributes of the wildflower as well as the temporal attributes. The permanence of a ceramic flower contrasts with the impermanence of the actual wildflower.
Much like a flower goes through a process of dispersal in order to reproduce, the ceramic offerings Cortada presents act as a dissemination from the original public art installations to commemorate Florida’s quincentennial for which they were intended. This is not only a literal action, but one of conceptual significance. It is the dissemination of the ideals and values that the original installation represents. In this way, “Flower Force” behaves quite similarly to Cortada’s “FLOR500” participatory art project, as the end result is the dispersal and cultivation of native flowers throughout Florida as a reclamation of the built environment for nature. This imbues the ceramic flowers with the conceptual significance and weight of the ideals that Cortada presents, the ceramic flowers both conceptually and literally representing the wildflowers that have been planted.