What To Do With Those Political Yard Signs? This Artist Has An Idea, Linked To The Rising Sea

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By Kate Stein
November 9, 2018 

Visual artist Xavier Cortada is leading an effort to turn political yard signs into signs showing the elevations of people's homes above sea level. The project is intended to promote civility and raise awareness of sea-level rise. COURTESY OF XAVIER CORTADA

If you’re not sure what to do with your yard signs now that the midterm elections are over, a South Florida artist has a suggestion for you.

Visual artist Xavier Cortada is leading a project to turn political yard signs into markers showing how high people’s homes are above sea level. The goal is to bring people together following the divisive 2018 midterms, and to raise awareness of how sea-level rise can impact South Florida — from property values to insurance rates to tidal flooding and contamination of drinking water.

“I want these political signs to be gestures of our civility,” said Cortada, the artist-in-residence at Pinecrest Gardens in south Miami-Dade.

To raise awareness of sea-level rise in Miami-Dade County, artist Xavier Cortada is leading a project to transform political yard signs into signs showing homes’ elevations above sea level

He’s asking people to take their yard signs and paint over the candidates’ names with white paint — the color of melting glaciers.

“Your political red or your political blue sign turns into a white sign — but not a white sign of retreat or surrender, but a white sign of, this is the greatest crisis we face.”

Then you find your home’s elevation — there are apps available — and paint that on the sign in black. Add a blue squiggly line to represent the rising sea.

Visual artist Xavier Cortada, a Miami native who's artist-in-residence at Pinecrest Gardens, is leading a project to turn yard signs into sea-level rise markers. CREDIT COURTESY OF XAVIER CORTADA

“Whether we’re at 17 feet elevation or at three feet elevation, all of us — our tax base, our flood insurance, our water — all of us are going to be impacted,” Cortada said. “It’s important for us as a community to begin to address that issue.”

The effort is linked to a project Cortada’s calling the Underwater Homeowners Association. The project started in Pinecrest but is now expanding throughout Miami-Dade.