Xavier Cortada, Miami’s pioneer eco-artist, is Artist-in-Residence for the 2022 Future of Water Summit. From polar glaciers to Arctic sea ice, from streaming brooks to open bays, Cortada frequently uses water as a medium to convey its incredible importance, warn about the grave danger it poses to coastal communities, and engage others in its conservation.
Xavier Cortada is an artist and professor of practice at the University of Miami Department of Art and Art History, with secondary appointments in the School of Law and the Miller School of Medicine.
Cortada uses art’s elasticity to work across disciplines to engage communities in problem solving. Particularly environmentally focused, his work generates awareness and action around climate change, sea level rise, and biodiversity loss.
Over the past three decades, the Cuban-American artist has created art at the North and South poles and across 6 continents, including more than 150 public artworks, installations, collaborative murals and socially engaged projects. He has been commissioned to create art for CERN, the White House, the World Bank, and Miami City Hall, among many other art, science, history, and government venues.
Cortada has exhibited and produced works internationally, 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 Holland, Scotland, and Taiwan. The artist’s work is in the collections of the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, the Whatcom Museum, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum and the MDC Museum of Art + Design.
Cortada, who was born in Albany, New York, grew up and lives in Miami, Florida. He received bachelors, masters and law degrees from the University of Miami. His studio, gallery and socially engaged art practice are based at Pinecrest Gardens where he serves as artist-in-residence.
The Art of Diatoms
Diatoms are water-bound, single-celled microalgae encapsulated in silica. They harness the power of the sun to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and are responsible for generating at least one-fifth of the oxygen we breathe. Diatoms also allow scientists to see into the Earth's past: By examining the glass shells of diatoms that are preserved in sedimentary core samples, scientists can determine the past salinity of water as well as the current state of its degradation.