“Antarctic Ice Paintings: Global Coastlines & Underwater HOA” at Hibiscus Gallery

Antarctic Ice Paintings: Main | About | 2018 Event | Global Coastlines Gallery | Press  
Ice Painting Series: Sea Ice | WAIS | Global Coastlines


Xavier Cortada, “Antarctic Ice Paintings | Global Coastlines: A-1: Antarctica,” melted Antarctic ice, sediment and mixed media on paper, 9″ x 12″, 2007.


“Antarctic Ice Paintings: Global Coastlines and Underwater HOA

a solo exhibition premiering works created in Antarctica in 2007

Xavier Cortada


Hibiscus Gallery
Pinecrest Gardens
11000 S. Red Road
Pinecrest, FL 33156

Exhibit runs from November 8, 2018 through January 13, 2018


Artist Meet and Greet
Join us: “Antarctic Ice Paintings: Global Coastlines and Underwater HOA” a solo exhibition by Xavier Cortada, premiering works created in Antartica in 2007.

  • Opening:  
    Thursday, November 8, 2018 (7 – 10 pm)
  • Celebrate Art Miami Week:  
    Thursday, November 29, 2018 (6:30 – 10 pm)
  • Pinecrest Gardens Farmers Market: Distribution of Underwater Markers: 
    Sunday, December 2, 2018 (10am – 5 pm)
  • Underwater HOA Meeting: 
    Wednesday, January 9, 2019, (7 – 10 pm).

Presented by the Village of Pinecrest and the League of Conservation Voters with Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER, University of Miami Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, FIU Sea Level Solutions Center, Eyes on the Rise and the Miami New Media Festival.


About the Exhibition

Xavier Cortada, recipient of a 2006-2007 National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers fellowship, traveled to Antarctica to implement a series of projects and installations. While there, the Miami artist created “Antarctic Ice Paintings” using glacier ice, sea ice, and sediment samples provided to him by McMurdo LTER scientists working in Antarctica.  

Global Coastlines,” a series comprised of all of the artist’s Antarctic works on paper which had not yet been titled (and had never been shown) will be premiered and named at Pinecrest Gardens.  One is titled “Antarctica,”  another “Pinecrest, Florida.”  The remaining sixty works will be titled for another 60 global communities threatened by Antarctica’s melting glaciers and sea level rise. The exhibition is part of a broader participatory art project aimed at engaging residents in a conversation about the future of their properties.  

The exhibition will also serve to launch the Underwater HOA, participatory public art project the artist is implementing to engage residents from across Miami-Dade County in addressing sea level rise.  Learn more at www.underwaterHOA.com or scroll down



Read more about the exhibition at: https://deliciousline.org/review/348

Xavier Cortada: Antarctic Ice Paintings

Hibiscus Gallery

Reviewed by Elisa Turner



Underwater HOA:   Main | About | Markers | Participate | Join our HOA | Press | Exhibition | Social Media | Resources  

Xavier Cortada, “Underwater HOA,” 2018 (www.underwaterHOA.com)


About #UnderwaterHOA

I travelled to Antarctica in 2006 as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Antarctic Artist and Writers Program fellow. There, I created a series of works on paper by melting ice samples scientists gave me from their research on how human impacts on global climate are melting the Antarctic glaciers.

Underwater HOA depicts South Florida’s vulnerability to those melting glaciers: the Village of Pinecrest will encourage its residents to install an “Underwater HOA” marker on their front lawn during the first week of December 2018. The marker will display how many feet of melting glacial water must rise before their property is underwater. I numbered each yard sign from 0 to 17 feet, the land elevation range for the 6,000 houses in the Village. The signs’ backdrop show the watercolor paintings I made in Antarctica by melting ice from the very glaciers that threaten to melt and drown Miami.

By mapping the crisis to come, I make the invisible visible. Block by block, house by house, neighbor by neighbor, I want to make the future impact of sea level rise something no longer possible to ignore.

My socially-engaged environmental art practice aims to help address the problem at hand: As part of the effort, I will charter a homeowner’s association where members are organized by property elevation–the most important metric any coastal community need consider. By asking participants to join Underwater HOA, I engage my neighbors as problem-solvers who will learn together and work together now to plan and better prepare (themselves and their heirs) for the chaos to come.

– Xavier Cortada


Underwater HOA is a participatory public art project Xavier Cortada is implementing in tandem with his “Antarctic Ice Paintings: Global Coastlines and Underwater HOA” exhibition in Pinecrest Gardens Hibiscus Gallery from November 8, 2018 through January 13, 2018.

LTER All Scientists’ Meeting | Next Generation Synthesis: Successes and Strategies

LTER All Scientists’ Meeting | Next Generation Synthesis: Successes and Strategies

Workshop: Integration of the Environmental Sciences, Arts, and Humanities Across the LTER Network


Xavier Cortada, Diatom, archival ink on aluminum, 36in x 18in, 2014 (edition 1 of 5).


The integration of environmental science, arts, and humanities (eSAH) is flourishing across the LTER network, where it is being applied to enhance outreach/education activities as well as fundamental inquiry with the aspirational goal of helping society overcome the social-ecological grand challenges of today.

During this workshop organized by Bonanza Creek LTER’s Dr. Mary Beth Leigh ( University of Alaska Fairbanks), scientists will:

a) share examples of varying eSAH activities from across the LTER network through brief presentations from artists, scientists, and organizers,

b) report on research assessing the impacts of eSAH activities on audiences and their value to LTER,

c) analyze the range and extent of interdisciplinary integration currently being achieved through different programmatic models, and

d) develop an action plan for organizing, communicating, and expanding the growing network of LTER eSAH programs.

Xavier Cortada will serve as special guest artist/speaker to present on his work as artist in residence at the following LTER sites:

  • Florida Coastal Everglades LTER (Florida)
  • H J Andrews LTER (Oregon)
  • Hubbard Brook LTER (New Hampshire)


The Art of Diatoms


The Art of Diatoms

by Xavier Cortada, Artist-in-Residence
FIU School of Environment, Arts and Society


Fig. 1. Cortada’s one-hundred diatom works on tile (each 6″ x 6″), 2017.

I marvel at looking into a microscope.

I focus in and see time. I see the past, really far into the past. I see beautiful small aquatic plants encased in glass that lived on our planet for many millions of years. Sitting inside Dr. Evelyn Gaiser’s Algae Research lab at Florida International University in Miami, I look at a slide and see diatoms.

Diatoms transport me to a place so distant in time that it wouldn’t look like the Earth I know. They help connect me to an Earth I am trying to better understand. An Earth fluid. An Earth as process. An Earth completely interconnected. An Earth generating life forms across space and time.

Fig. 2. Xavier Cortada, Drawings of Diatoms from the Everglades, 6″ x 6″, ceramic tile, 2017.

In diatoms, I also see moments captured in time. Scientists can determine the past salinity of water by examining the glass shells of diatoms preserved in sedimentary core samples. Each diatom species has a different salinity preference, so changes in the mixture of fresh and sea water (driven by sea level rise and water management) can be inferred from past diatom remains.

Their presence in the layered sediment connects us to the ecosystem in which they thrived while they were alive. Indeed, they are a portal to what once was so that we can better learn how to protect what now is.

A diatom glass shell is a talisman.

The tiniest of talismans– as tiny as a cell: a single-celled organism that lives in the water and harnesses the power of the sun to convert CO2 into organic substances to sustain its life and releasing oxygen in the process. Indeed, the oxygen in one of every third breath we take was returned to the atmosphere by and through diatoms!

Elegant, gem-like, the bilaterally symmetrical shapes of many diatoms move me to depict them in my art. I do so to celebrate the science that shows us their relevance in our world. These are some of the works:

Fig. 4. Xavier Cortada, “Diatom” archival ink on aluminum, 36″ x 18″, 2014 (edition 1 of 5) (©2014 Xavier Cortada).

Diatom Fountain (Fig. 3)

I am currently putting finishing touches on Diatom Fountain. Comprised of 1,616 handmade, hand-painted ceramic tiles, we just need to add water as soon as we get the lights and water pump installed on this sixteen-foot tall public fountain. It is my latest public work, one of several featuring diatoms.

This one is at Miami-Dade Housing Authority’s Smathers Plaza, an elderly living community in Little Havana. Here, four vertical water channels disrupt the natural flow of diatoms across the sculpture, much like dredging and canals have disrupted the flow of the River of Grass across South Florida. I like depicting diatoms in public places as a way of engaging audiences – an entry point for them to learn about how scientists use diatoms to monitor water flow and quality in the Florida Everglades and throughout Florida’s ecosystems.

Fig. 3. Xavier Cortada, “Diatom Fountain” 16’ x 8’ x 8’, ceramic tile, 2017.

Florida Coastal Everglades LTER (Fig. 4)

Using a microscope, I captured the image of a diatom from samples used by scientists working in the FIU-led Florida Coastal Everglades LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) program to study the ecology of the Everglades and sea level rise. In the digital art piece, my first work about diatoms, I had this diatom image hover over a layer of maps (that I captured using Google maps) showing the artificial canals and lakes created to develop parcels of developable land where the River of Grass once flowed.

Fig. 5. Xavier Cortada, “Just Below the Surface: 1915 (The Founding of Miami Beach)” 60” x 36”, archival ink on aluminum, 2015 (©2015 Xavier Cortada).

Miami Beach City Hall (Fig. 5)

To create the Centennial art piece for the City of Miami Beach, I used a diatom as the central image for the digital work. The diatom depicted in the art piece was living on Biscayne Bay in 1915. It was creating the very air Miami Beach founders breathed 100 years ago as they brought the city to life. Its glass shell, all that remains from the diatom, is used by scientists today to see what was as they research environmental issues crucial to the city in the century to come.

Fig. 6. Xavier Cortada, “Florida is… Sunshine (Sunset)” digital art, 2015.

Florida Turnpike (Figs. 6, 7)

I was commissioned to create permanent public art installations in three Florida Turnpike plazas, making them cultural destinations in and of themselves. Wanting to connect tourists and locals to Florida’s true beauty–nature, I portrayed Florida’s life-giving sun, its endangered animals, and native wildflowers. At the Florida Turnpike Turkey Lake Plaza near Orlando, I depicted the Florida’s sun-using and water-bound diatoms that harness its power thus creating oxygen. Conceptually, I wanted to track a day in the life across the Sunshine State:
• Sunrise: Huge diatom-clad sunrays rise above the Northbound entrance (on the east side of the Turkey Lake plaza),
• High Noon: life-giving diatoms appear as circles on the ceiling at the center of the building
at high noon, and
• Sunset: the rays set above the Southbound entrance on the west.”

Fig. 7. Xavier Cortada, “[Florida is… Sunshine (High noon):] Luster” archival ink on aluminum, 20″ diameter, 2015 (©2015 Xavier Cortada).

Cortada first published this article for the FIU Florida Coastal Everglades LTER’s Wading through Research | “Diatom of the Month” Blog in February 2017: http://floridacoastaleverglades.blogspot.com/2017/02/diatom-of-month-february-2017.html

Alaska Residency: University of Alaska Fairbanks (cancelled)




FIU SEAS and CARTA artist-in-residence Xavier Cortada will travel to Alaska to engage in research for his EVER/PERMA project addressing sea-level rise and global climate change concerns.  This is part of his science art practice conducted in partnership with FIU SEAS and FCE LTER faculty (and now with faculty in the  University of Alaska in Fairbanks).

Here’s a blurb about the Ever/Perma research effort:

Ever/Perma is a new body of work being developed by Xavier Cortada.  In it, he uses art to engage community members in addressing environmental degradation, global climate change, and sea level rise concerns. He does so chiefly through the development and implementation of participatory ecological art projects, site-specific artistic interventions in Alaska and Florida, and a programmed exhibit at the project’s conclusion. During the project, Cortada will also convene community meetings, work groups, discussion panels and lectures to activate ideas.
Specifically, “Ever/Perma” will address how global climate change is disrupting the ecosystems at both ends of our country:  sea level rise threatens the Everglades; warmer temperatures are thawing the Arctic permafrost.  Scientists tell us that as both of these ecosystems are degraded by human impacts they release methane (20x more potent than carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere and further disrupt our global climate.

Now more than ever, scientists and artists play a critical role: Scientists must continue to record how the climate responds to changing policies. Artists need to use art to effectuate change; to capture this moment.

CLIMA 2016 in Hialeah during Art Basel week

clima-web-logoCLIMA Home | Main 2016 | Gallery | Statement | PressEvents | Livestream

Cortada worksDo Not Open | Climate Refugees | Hot for Hialeah | Psychoanalysis of Climate ChangeReclamation Project | Flor 500
LTER : Everglades (Florida) | HJ Andrews (Oregon) | Hubbard Brook (New Hampshire)



Xavier Cortada will return to Hialeah for CLIMA 2016 during 2016 Art Basel Week  with the opening of several of his art-science exhibits:

CLIMA presenting partner Honoring the Future brings the work of Philadelphia-based artists Peter Handler and Karen Singer (Alaskan Journey: Artists Bear Witness to Climate Change.)

CLIMA is also honored to present the work of its 2016 featured local guest artist, Michael Gray.  Gray, an MFA student at FIU, will be presenting his Phyllum Floridian exhibit and contribute works to Cortada’s project on climate refugees.


Xavier Cortada, "Flora (sin titulo)" archival ink on aluminum, 36" x 27", (edition 1 of 5), 2015

Xavier Cortada, “Flora (sin titulo)” archival ink on aluminum, 36″ x 27″, (edition 1 of 5), 2015



Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest:
CLIMA 2016 will feature Cortada’s “Water Paintings” and the Water Visualization created at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest:



CLIMA 2015 featured Cortada’s “Five Actions to Stop Rising Seas”

Xavier Cortada, "Five Actions to Stop Rising Seas: FREEZE IT!," video sreen shot, 2015. In acknowledgement of the support of the Rauschenberg Residency/Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

Xavier Cortada, “Five Actions to Stop Rising Seas: FREEZE IT!,” video sreen shot, 2015. In acknowledgement of the support of the Rauschenberg Residency/Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.


CLIMA 2015: Main | Statement | Gallery | Press | Events | Livestream