By Juliana Barbassa
— Austin, Texas (National circulation)
Art has always helped define cultures and connect individuals to their communities. In this spirit, Xavier Cortada, an artist, attorney, and community leader, works to promote a sense of history and awareness in disadvantaged communities. He is currently developing, in collaboration with the Lowe Art Museum, a mural representing a pre-Columbian temple in the foyer of the Little Havana Institute, an alternative school that focuses on dropout prevention. There students incorporate images showing their cultural background.
Based on his belief that art and the creative process bring people together, he actively promotes art as an agent of social change. This goal has led him to exhibit his work, give lectures, and paint murals with groups in cities as diverse as Washington, D.C., Freetown, Sierra Leone; and Medellin, Colombia.
“Art is a universal language that embraces all cultures – it is the great equalizer,” says Cortada. “Efforts in which people learn to interact and work together teach people to respect each other’s diversity. It also teaches them that each person has a valuable role to play.”
Cortada, an accomplished Cuban American artist raised in Miami, reflects the cosmopolitan divisions of his adopted hometown in his work. A product of the forces that shaped Miami, Cortada bridges the gap between his parents’ homeland, which he knows only through their reminiscences, and the modern American metropolis where he grew up. He shortens the distance between two cultures by bringing together elements relevant to all people, everywhere.