‘Infiltrate through art.’ Miami-Dade’s first artist-in-residence wants you to get creative

Artist Xavier Cortada speaks at the Miami-Dade Public Library. Cortada was named the county’s first artist-in-residence. RYAN HOLLOWAY Miami-Dade County

‘Infiltrate through art.’ Miami-Dade’s first artist-in-residence wants you to get creative

MIAMI HERALD | August 17, 2022

For decades, artist Xavier Cortada has dedicated himself to community-based projects and programs serving his fellow Miamians. This month, he took on a brand new title: Miami-Dade County’s artist-in-residence.

And he wants you — yes, you — to tap into your creative side.

Cortada, a world-renowned artist known for his climate-focused work and community engagement, is the first artist to be named as the county’s artist-in-residence by Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. The announcement came just months after the county named its first poet laureate, Richard Blanco.

As the artist-in-residence, Cortada will “add a new perspective to the work we do in the county and beyond” and create accessible arts and culture programming, Levine Cava said in a statement.

“He is an eco-artist, someone that brings people together, listens, engages,” Levine Cava said. “Through the arts, we can truly motivate people to take action for the future.”

Miami-Dade joins several municipalities, like New York City and Boston, in implementing an artist-in-residence program. As the first in Miami-Dade, Cortada said he feels a deep responsibility to set the tone for future artists to reach the program’s potential.

“My hope is that through my work here, the community understands the value of artists outside of the traditional studio,” Cortada told the Herald.

Cortada, a University of Miami professor and full-time artist based in Pinecrest, has worked in community service projects and programs since high school. He dedicates much of his practice to raising awareness about the affects of climate change, especially in Miami. His artwork has been featured in the White House, the European Organization for Nuclear Research and the World Bank. He also served as chair of the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council.

He focuses heavily on social art projects that engage community members, like the Underwater HOA, which encouraged homeowners to find the elevation of their homes and plant a sign in their yard displaying the number in feet. This past school year, Cortada brought another project called The Underwater to his alma mater Miami Senior High School to teach students about combating the threat of sea level rise.

Artist Xavier Cortada and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava at the Miami-Dade Public Library. Cortada was named Miami-Dade’s first artist-in-residence. Ryan Holloway Miami-Dade County

Cortada said his decades-worth of community service experience — both arts-related and not — has prepared him to tackle this role as well.

“All those lessons that I’ve learned — how to engage and work with the community and creatively problem solve — is what made me the artist I am today,” Cortada said. “That is the resource that I want to bring to the mayor and her leadership team.”

Artists-in-residence can help a municipality stimulate innovation and social change, Cortada said, referencing a 2020 Stanford Social Innovation Review article about the benefits of these programs. Artists can apply their skills beyond traditional public artworks, like sculptures and murals. Their creativity can be tapped to find solutions to public sector problems, the article says.

“I’m trying to infiltrate through art,” Cortada said. “I’m trying to infiltrate the systems in order to transform them to be more creative and more responsive.”

At the moment, Cortada is dreaming up a project that can include Miami-Dade’s roughly 3 million residents to explore themes of over consumption and waste. As the artist-in-residence, Cortada wants every Miami-Dade resident — yes, everyone — to “understand the wealth of creativity that they have within themselves.”

“Art can reframe things, can help us understand or relate to one another, and help us act on it in a way that few other things that humans do can,” he said. “That’s why I so value the power of art.”

See original article at https://www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/visual-arts/article264562496.html