About Florida Is Nature
Conceptualized during Xavier Cortada‘s residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artist Residency in Captiva, Florida, “Florida is Nature” is based at Pinecrest Gardens. It asks Floridians to define their state by its natural environment, not by the edifices and man-made encroachments that displace nature.
As an elementary school student in Miami, Xavier Cortada would visit Pinecrest Gardens, then known Parrot Jungle, to learn about nature. Now he’s back in that green wonderland as its artist-in-residence, exploring the intersection of art and the environment and creating and exhibiting works capturing Florida’s natural beauty.
Cortada uses different media– some are created digitally, others are painted or drawn, but all are informed by some aspect of Cortada’s childhood memories, by his current practice as an artist with a strong environmentalist message, or both. Some works hang in public venues, including several Florida Turnpike plazas, admonishing viewers to find better ways to coexist with nature.
Biscayne Bay is the inspiration for the work featuring mangroves, corals, and aquatic animals, while the images of wildflowers, plants, and insects have origin in his childhood forays into the wilds of his family backyard. Some of the most endangered animals of Florida including the Florida panther, the wood stork, and the red wolf, find their way into Cortada’s public works, as if asking to be acknowledged one last time by the public before facing certain extinction.
Of special interest are the pieces that depict diatoms, single-celled organisms that live in the water and harness the power of the sun to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. When a diatom dies, all that remains of it is a glass shell. Scientists today use the remains of the diatom to understand the past in order to decipher environmental issues crucial to South Florida in the century to come.
“Florida is Nature,” an ongoing participatory art project encouraging audiences to care for Florida’s ecosystems.
Participants are invited to tour the garden beyond the gallery walls and find inspiration for art they will create and upload along with a message on to the project’s online platform: www.floridaisnature.com.
Cortada’s hope is that by bringing his engaged practice to Pinecrest Gardens, he can encourage others to explore and become curious about the natural world that captivated him as a child, raise awareness about environmental concerns, and establish a platform for community conversations and actions to protect Florida’s nature.
You can learn more about the artist by visiting www.cortada.com
Monthly Florida is Nature artist talks and community programs are presented with the support of Pinecrest Gardens, Village of Pinecrest, FIU School of Environment, Arts and Society, FIU College of Communications, Architecture + The Arts, FIU Libraries, Digital Library of the Caribbean and Participatory Art Projects.