Pinecrest Environmental Artist Xavier Cortada calls for action on rising sea levels

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Miami’s Community Newspapers
By Suanny Garcia
October 15, 2018

Scientists warn sea level rise around the world is accelerating, mainly due to melting ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, and the annual rate of rise could more than triple every year by 2100, according to data published in the scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Xavier Cortada, a National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program fellow and current Pinecrest Gardens artist-in-residence, has known that since he first visited the frozen continent over a decade ago. Now in partnership with the Village of Pinecrest, he’s hoping to raise awareness and help others prepare for the inevitable through the launch of a participatory art project titled “Underwater HOA.”

Beginning Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 and during Art Basel Miami Beach (Dec. 6-9), Cortada and the Village of Pinecrest will encourage 6,000 households to join a newly-formed Underwater Homeowners Association and place Underwater Markers artistically designed by the acclaimed environmental artist in their yards. Markers are numbered from 0 to 17 (the elevation range for the 6,000 households) to depict how many feet of melting glacial water needs to rise before the property is underwater. He will collaborate with high school students to map the elevation of four major intersections in Pinecrest by painting markers on the roadway. Additionally over Art Basel, the Village’s main thoroughfare, Killian Drive, will feature Underwater Markers along a 2.5-mile stretch, between US1 and Red Road, to show drivers the gradual increase in elevation from one end of the street to the next.

Joining Cortada and the Village of Pinecrest as partners on the project are the University of Miami’s Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy and Florida International University’s Sea Level Solutions Center as well as Eyes on the Rise App. Ygrene, a national leader in residential and commercial clean energy financing, is sponsoring the markers.

“By mapping the impending crisis, I make the invisible visible,” Cortada said in a recent New York Times T Magazine interview.

“Block by block, house by house, neighbor by neighbor, I want to make the future impact of sea level rise something impossible to ignore. By asking participants to join the newly chartered group Underwater HOA, I hope to engage my neighbors as problem-solvers who will learn and work together now to better prepare themselves and their heirs for the chaos to come.”

In addition, Cortada will debut 60 untitled and never seen before paintings. The “Antarctic Ice Paintings: Global Coastlines and Underwater HOA” exhibition will be on display from Nov. 8, 2018 – Jan. 13, 2019 inside the Hibiscus Gallery at Pinecrest Gardens, South Florida’s Cultural Arts Park.

“I learned from the scientists that the very Antarctic ice I was using for my work threatens to drown my city,” Cortada said.

“Antarctica is coming to every coastline across the globe. Instead of burying our heads in the sand, let’s figure out how to combat climate change together.”

The inaugural Underwater HOA meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019 in the Hibiscus Gallery at Pinecrest Gardens, located at 11000 Red Road.

“Climate change will affect the future of Pinecrest and all of South Florida,” said Pinecrest Mayor Joseph M. Corradino. “Through Xavier’s extraordinary vision, he will use art to make a bold statement, create awareness about sea level rise and bring the community together in an impactful way. The Village of Pinecrest is proud to be collaborating on this participatory public art project. We have timed the launch of this project around Art Basel when the focus of the art world will be on Miami to bring attention to this important issue.”

To learn more about the Underwater HOA project, visit

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