Xavier Cortada: Climate Science Art

A solo exhibition at the National Academy of Sciences

2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C

July 10 – December 31, 2024

WASHINGTON – Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences announces “Xavier Cortada: Climate Science Art,” an exhibition featuring Miami-based artist Xavier Cortada’s climate change-focused artwork from Miami-Dade County, Florida, and the North and South Poles, spanning from 2007 to the present. The exhibition opens on July 10, 2024, at the National Academy of Sciences and will remain on view through Dec. 31, 2024.

Cortada initiated “The Underwater,” a community-led climate action project to raise awareness about sea-level rise. It uses interactive public art installations, including yard signs, murals, and sustainable concrete markers, to reveal South Florida’s elevation, spark conversations, and spur civic engagement. Since launching “The Underwater” in 2018, Cortada has enlisted thousands of residents and students to look up their home’s elevation and make yard signs. The artwork not only enables people to discover their neighborhood’s elevation above sea level, but also encourages them to explore how they can get involved in local climate action. Several original artifacts from the project are on view in the exhibition.

The exhibition also features earlier examples of Cortada’s projects exploring ideas of global interconnectedness to raise awareness about the realities of climate change. He journeyed to the North and South Poles in 2007 and 2008, and these experiences heightened his desire to pivot his focus to the climate crisis. During the expeditions, he created various projects, including performance art, temporary art installations, ice sculptures, and paintings with water from Arctic and Antarctic Sea ice. He also planted flags as part of a participatory eco-art project to reclaim land for nature.

Xavier Cortada is a socially engaged artist who uses art’s elasticity to work across disciplines to involve communities in creative problem-solving. Over the last three decades, he has created more than 150 public artworks, installations, and collaborative murals across six continents and has made work at both Earth’s poles. Pioneering eco-art in Miami, his community-driven art has catalyzed over 25 acres of ecological restoration in Florida, yielded participatory projects in every Miami-Dade County public school and library, and sparked interdisciplinary initiatives to address sea-level rise. Though his non-profit, the Cortada Foundation, the Cuban American artist involves people in hands-on projects that generate awareness and inspire action around the climate crisis and other social justice issues. Cortada served as Miami-Dade County’s inaugural artist-in-residence, was inducted into the State of Florida Artists Hall of Fame, and won a 2023 Eric and Wendy Schmidt Award for Excellence in Science Communications from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees from the University of Miami.

“Xavier Cortada: Climate Science Art” is on exhibit at the National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. The building is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and closed weekends and holidays. A photo ID is required. For more information about our exhibitions, visit www.cpnas.org.

Cultural Programs of the NAS sponsors exhibitions, salons, theatrical readings, and other events that explore relationships among the arts and sciences. The NAS is a private, nonprofit institution that recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and — with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine — provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

Left: Xavier Cortada, “Longitudinal Installation: South Pole, 2007.
Right: Xavier Cortada, “Longitudinal Installation: North Pole, 2008.

Past Exhibitions

Solo Exhibitions

Group Exhibitions