Xavier Cortada | Embark 2015

Xavier Cortada

Xavier Cortada


Xavier Cortada’s art-science practice is oriented toward social engagement and the environment. He has created art installations at the earth’s poles to generate awareness of global climate change: In 2007, while a fellow of the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artist and Writer’s Program, he created a site-specific installation at the South Pole that uses its moving ice sheet an instrument to mark time; the art piece will be completed in 150,000 years. In 2008, he planted a green flag at the North Pole to reclaim it for nature and launch an urban reforestation initiative.

Cortada often collaborates with scientists in his art-making:

  • At CERN, he worked with a physicist to develop an art installation that captures the five search strategies scientists used to find The Higgs Boson particle, confirming the standard model of physics. Five giant banners hang at the Compact Muon Solenoid, a facility where the particle was discovered.
  • Cortada worked with a population geneticist on a project that explores our ancestral journeys out of Africa 60,000 years ago.
  • The artist collaborated with a molecular biologist to synthesize an actual DNA strand made from a sequence randomly generated by participants visiting his museum exhibit. The work was published in Science.
  • Working with biologists, Cortada developed eco-art projects to reforest mangroves, regrow native trees canopies and restore wildflower populations.
  • During May 2015, Cortada participated as an artist-in-residence at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, FL to work with scientists and artists in addressing sea level rise concerns.
  • Cortada is working with researchers the Florida Coastal Everglades LTER to help our community understand diatoms and the role they play in helping us study water ecology and sea level rise.
  • Cortada is currently working with scientists at Hubbard Brook LTER on a water cycle visualization project driven by real-time data collected at a watershed in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. He worked with same scientists in 2012 to perform “Wind Words: Water,” the work is being presented at the 2015 National Weather Center Biennale in Norman, OK.

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 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 served as Artist-in-Residence at Florida International University‘s (FIU) College of Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) from 2011 throiugh 2015.


October 28, 2015
Melting Skepticism Instead of Ice Caps

11:00  -  12:30