Plaza Allapattah Video

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Ceramic Tile Murals by Xavier Cortada
Plaza Allapattah (Miami, FL)

Xavier Cortada, “Plaza Allapattah,” hand-painted ceramic and glass mosaic, 96″ x 384″‘ x 18″, 2008 (Curtis Park, Miami, FL)

Created in a park near an old Seminole trading post on the Miami River in the neighborhood of Allapattah, one of the pieces recalls the Alligators (Allapattah) after which the place was named. Place names, and the Place captured by the act of naming, is a key to history and continuity.

Placemaking was an important goal in this work. The plazas are part of a linear park where the art established places to sit, socialize and enjoy the natural character of the park.

Materiality and texture are vital parts of the expression of this piece. Glass mosaic and ceramic tile that are hand painted and glazed are used to create a texture as exuberant and complex as the natural world the piece celebrates. The play of light, the movement of water and the gestural quality of the piece evoke natural processes, rhythm, movement, spontaneity and expressiveness.

Xavier Cortada created art at the Earth Poles to generate environmental at point in between: In 2007, the artist used the moving ice sheet beneath the South Pole as an instrument to mark time; the art piece will be completed in 150,000 years. In 2008, Cortada planted a green flag at North Pole to encourage reforestation in the world below.

The Miami artist has worked with groups globally to produce numerous collaborative art projects, including peace murals in Cyprus and Northern Ireland, child welfare murals in Bolivia and Panama, AIDS murals in Switzerland and South Africa, and eco-art projects in Taiwan, Hawaii, Holland and Latvia.

Cortada often collaborates with scientists in his art-making: Cortada used samples (and inspiration) provided by researchers in Antarctica to create his National Science Foundation-sponsored works there. He has also worked with a population geneticist on a project exploring our ancestral journeys out of Africa 60,000 years ago, and with a molecular biologist to synthesize an actual DNA strand made from a sequence randomly generated by participants visiting his museum exhibit.

Cortada has also been commissioned to create art for the White House, the World Bank, the Florida Supreme Court, the Florida Governor’s Mansion, Florida Botanical Gardens, Miami City Hall, Miami-Dade County Hall, the Miami Art Museum, the Miami Science Museum, Museum of Florida History, and the Frost Art Museum.

Corporations such as General Mills, Nike, Heineken and Hershey’s have commissioned his art. Publishers like McDougal and Random House have featured it in school textbooks and publications. His work has also been featured in National Geographic TV and the Discovery Channel.

Cortada, who was born in Albany, New York and grew up in Miami, holds degrees from the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School of Business and School of Law.

Cortada serves as Artist-in-Residence and heads the Office of Engaged Creativity at Florida International University’s (FIU) College of Architecture + The Arts (CARTA).