Artist's Statements

Gideon v. Wainright

Xavier Cortada, “Gideon V. Wainwright,” oil on canvas, 48″ x 36″, 2004

“In researching Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), I found that Bobby Kennedy quote and instantly came up with my composition about the landmark case on “the right to an attorney.”  Instead of focusing on what Gideon was unable to do in the courtroom without an attorney (“lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries”), I focused on what he did accomplished after he was sentenced….” Continue reading

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Xavier Cortada, “Williams V. Florida,” acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 36″, 2004

“In art there’s this color wheel.  It starts with three primary colors:  red, yellow, blue.  Then, between them, you see the secondary colors; those that are formed by the blending of primary colors:  Orange (when one mixes yellow and red).  Green (when one mixes blue and yellow).  Purple (when one blends red and blue).  Each one is as strong a color.  Some become complementary to each other.  Side by side, green and red, stand out more. The same with other colors on the opposite side of the color wheel: yellow and purple, blue and orange….” Continue reading

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Xavier Cortada, “Miami Herald Publishing Company v. Tornillo,” oil on canvas, 48″ x 36″, 2004

“In 2000, I accompanied my Dad on a trip to Cuba to see family members.  I was able to bring my grandfather photos of his siblings — he hadn’t seen them since he fled the Communist island in the 1960s.  My grandfather’s life ended the year after my trip, as did the life of a sister and brothers I had visited.  Unlike them, he lived in an open society and died a free man….” Continue reading

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Xavier Cortada, “Proffitt v. Florida,” acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 36″, 2004

“Francis Bacon painted an image of a pope gripping the arms of his chair. I don’t really recall when I first saw this beautiful piece, but I found it disturbing. Perhaps it’s because the sitting pontiff looked as if he was being electrocuted. Except I wondered, who, if anyone, really belongs in an electric chair? Who should receive the ultimate punishment? Who should decide, and what should the circumstances be?….” Continue reading

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Xavier Cortada, “Palmore v. Sidoti,” acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 36″, 2004

“In the backdrop we see eyes.  Blue eyes in a sea of Caucasian skin.

You can almost hear them gossiping.  Talking about her, the traitor. Protecting the man
whom she divorced.

Eyes, can’t believe what they are seeing, that she has hooked up with Palmore, a black
man….” Continue reading

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Xavier Cortada, “Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah,” acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 36″, 2004

“Every day my exercise routine takes me through the spoil islands connecting Miami to Key Biscayne. It’s a free beach, so folks come by, park their cars at the beach head, and picnic away. I really have to watch where I’m stepping — I could land on a stranded jelly fish, the excretions of someone’s dog, a used condom, or on someone’s leftover KFC chicken wings being devoured by an army of red ants.

Every now and then, I also see groupings of Turkey Vultures feasting. It’s an eerie sight. Dressed in black they gather around a circle, pecking away at someone else’s ritual, usually a goat or chicken carcass. These are the sacrificial animals of the Santeria religion, offerings placed at the water’s edge….” Continue reading

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Xavier Cortada, “Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida,” acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 36″, 2004

“Back in law school, I remember my Constitutional Law professor warning us to look out for 11 th Amendment cases. They were the new ones to watch in the legal landscape.

Five years after I graduated, the Supreme Court handed down Seminole Tribe v. Florida 517 U.S. 44 (1996), an important Eleventh Amendment ruling regarding all states as sovereign entities. I thought to paint it….” Continue reading

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Xavier Cortada, “Bush v. Gore,” oil on canvas, 48″ x 36″, 2017

“In painting the hourglass at the center of the work, I wanted capture the crucial element of time as it applied to the 2000 presidential election.  Time ran out to count the all the ballots in Florida (the state whose electors would decide the outcome between Bush v. Gore).  So the Supreme Court chose to tally nine ballots instead: Theirs….” Continue reading

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Xavier Cortada, “Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection,” oil on canvas, 48″ x 36″, 2017

This land is your land, this land is my land. This land was made for you and me.

Actually, it really belongs to water because it is made by water:

Water beats and breaks mountains.  Grinds them into stone, pebbles.  Into grains of sand that rush downstream and are swept out to to sea.  They toss and turn up and down a water column and with the force of a crashing wave eventually land: One grain of sand multiplied across a shoreline. Until water comes and erodes that shoreline, taking the sand back to sea….” Continue reading

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Xavier Cortada, “Florida v. Jardines,” oil on canvas, 48″ x 36″, 2017

“This is a picture of what lies inside a house, what you find when you walk across the front door of a private home. The texture is rich, as is the information stored therein: The molecules swirling as odor in the air and residue on a wall are all the crumbs of evidence left behind. They capture what is happening or has happened inside that home. It is evidence ready for taking, if you can access it….” Continue reading

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