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Xavier Cortada

Xavier Cortada
Artist and Professor of Practice, University of Miami’s Department of Art and Art History

Xavier Cortada is an artist and Professor of Practice in the University of Miami’s Department of Art and Art History. For 15 years, Cortada has creatively harnessed the power of art to motivate fellow Miami-Dade County residents (65% of whom are Latino) to learn about, conserve, and restore mangrove wetlands. What began as a childhood fascination with mangroves’ strangely shaped roots and propagules evolved into a socially engaged art practice extolling mangroves’ value to the local ecosystem. Cortada created highly innovative eco-art projects to mobilize Miamians to care for and restore mangroves. These include a community-driven reclamation project tied to county-wide public and private school educational programming, a volunteering project encouraging neighbors to build up climate change resiliency by growing salt-tolerant mangroves in their yards, and the nation’s first underwater homeowner’s association to address the threat of rising seas and salt-water intrusion into their fresh water aquifer.