July 2020 – Art for Democracy, the Solstice, and the Pandemic

Art for Democracy, the Solstice, and the Pandemic

Xavier Cortada, “Democracy (is an action verb),” chalk on chalkboard, 2017

As we approach the 244th birthday of our democracy, we must be ever-mindful that democracy isn’t a thing, it is a process. A process that requires every citizen to be involved. Democracy is an action verb. Make sure you are registered to vote in the upcoming elections. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, please consider voting by mail. To learn more, click here.

Saturday, June 20th was the summer solstice. To bring in this first day of summer, as he does to greet every season, Cortada ritualistically performed the Longitudinal Installation at Pinecrest Gardens. Although that day provided the most daylight all year, we find ourselves and our countries in the midst of some very dark days. Take a minute to reflect on what we are facing and why we are fighting – systemic racism, a devastating pandemic, and the climate crisis, among other issues. Participate here.

Independent newspaper for the University of Cambridge


by Grace Blackshaw

Art is often characterized as the antithesis of science. Stereotypes would have us believe artists are creative, chaotic, free spirits, working in messy studios. Scientists, by contrast, are logical, methodical and work in spotless laboratories, full of neatly labelled chemicals most of us have never heard of. The reality, of course, is far more complex.

Xavier Cortada has long been interested in creating what he describes as ‘science art’, often also using his work to raise awareness of environmental concerns.

In 2007, Cortada visited Antarctica and ‘planted’ a replica of a mangrove seedling in the moving ice sheet, to spend the next 150,000 years moving with the ice sheet and symbolising the passage of time. He also created a series of Ice Paintings using ice and sediment samples.

In 2013, Cortada collaborated with physicist Pete Markowitz on an art installation to celebrate the discovery of the Higgs Boson. The five panels each represent one of the experiments used by scientists at CERN to confirm its existence.

The piece is an ode to both the science and the human effort required for an experiment on this scale. In the second panel, the Higgs Boson is shown decaying into two photons and in the third, into quarks. The background of the panels includes 383 pages from scientific publications and the names of the 4000 scientists, engineers and technicians who worked on the project.

Click here to read the full article.

Image above: In Search of Higgs Boson – produced in collaboration with physicist Pete Markowitz, celebrating the discovery of the Higgs boson particle.

Underwater HOA

Please join us for our upcoming virtual Underwater Homeowner’s Association meeting on July 1st at 7:00 pm. UM Center for Urban & Community Design Director Sonia Chao will serve as guest speaker.

Underwater HOA aims to generate awareness on rising sea levels, and engage Floridians to take action against climate change by providing a space where homeowners can address its impending impacts.

Register for the meeting to receive the access link.

Sustainability Panel

The ‘Canes Community invites you to a discussion on sustainability and the recent changes the world has seen due to social isolation protocols.

University of Miami Professor of Practice Xavier Cortada will moderate the panel featuring internationally renowned fisheries scientist Jerald S. Ault, Ph.D., UM Department of Marine Ecosystems and Society Professor and Chair, and Kayla Besong, third-year Ph.D. candidate in atmospheric sciences. Register for the webinar.

Cortada developed the “Miami Corona Project” as a digital platform to assess and address the coronavirus pandemic in Miami. Part of the University of Miami COVID-19 Rapid Response effort, the art project’s engaged Conversations with community leaders provide a mechanism to better understand and reflect on the impacts of the pandemic.

Xavier Cortada and all of us at Cortada Projects are committed to using the power of art to engage the community in learning about and addressing important ecological concerns including climate change, sea level rise, and biodiversity loss. Thank you for reading our June 2020 newsletter.