Xavier Cortada, “Shoal,” aluminum cutout, 2023.

Cortada was commissioned to create public art for a municipal lot facing Deerfield Beach’s shoreline. Using aluminum cutouts, Cortada depicted a shoal of the fish that can often be found swimming along Florida’s coastline. Cortada wanted to bring attention to the sharp decline in fish populations globally as well as those swimming in the waters just a few yards away. A couple of blocks up the shoreline one finds the 976-foot Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier, which the city considers the crown jewel of their beach, attracting thousands of visitors and fishermen annually.

Cortada’s metal art installation at a Florida beachfront park with fish-shaped cutouts that represent vanishing species living in the ocean nearby. As the shadows it casts shift, we see the schools of fish fade away, reminding us of the urgency to protect our oceans.