The Underwater

Xavier Cortada makes work that generates awareness and action towards issues of global climate change by activating communities through art.

Artist Bio

The Underwater utilizes socially-engaged art, community partnerships, and data visualization to activate citizens as problem-solvers who will advocate for an equitable plan as Miami faces a future impacted by climate change. Working with local partners, Xavier Cortada will make art that maps the area’s vulnerability to rising seas and develop local climate leaders. Residents will be trained and organized into problem-solving groups that learn and work together to grow the movement. An “Underwater Leadership” will convene an “Underwater Summit” with elected officials so they are included in the policymaking process to tackle sea level rise issues that demand immediate action. Using arts elasticity to work across disciplines in engaging communities, the movement creates a platform for climate justice action that can be expanded globally.

Award Year

In Progress

Creative Capital Carnival 2022

middle aged man with dark eyebrows and brown eyes wearing light blue shirt and a jacket standing in front of a gray concrete wall... he smiles

Xavier Cortada

Palmetto Bay, FL

Xavier Cortada makes work that generates awareness and action towards issues of global climate change, sea level rise, and biodiversity loss. Using art’s elasticity to engage others, Cortada educates and inspires community members to work and learn together to solve the community’s problems. 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, and the World Bank, among many other art, science, history, and government venues. His work is in the permanent collections of the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), the NSU Museum of Art in Ft. Lauderdale, the Whatcom Museum, and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum. Cortada was recently awarded the Environmental Law Institute’s National Wetlands Award for his Reclamation Project (2006-present), a long-lived community activation ecological art intervention that, together with its spinoffs, has engaged scores of Floridians, youths to adults, in learning about and addressing the widespread disappearance of Florida’s native vegetation. The Miami artist serves as 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.