Environmental Artist Xavier Cortada and Pinecrest Gardens to Launch “Plan(T)”
Urban Mangrove Forestation Project in Preparation for Sea Level Rise,
Starting Sept. 26
Miami-Dade County Homeowners will be Asked to Plant a Salt-Tolerant Mangrove Seedling
and White Flag in Their Yards to Help Combat Against Rising Seas
PINECREST, Fla. (September 9, 2019) – Sea levels are rising. Saltwater intrusion into our drinking water, septic tanks, landscape and agriculture is inevitable. Pinecrest Gardens-based environmental artist and University of Miami Professor of Practice Xavier Cortada wants residents to do something about it. In his new, socially-charged “Plan(T)” project, Cortada will embark on a public campaign to urge every resident across Miami-Dade County to plant a saltwater-tolerant mangrove seedling and white flag in their yard to start preparing for the future of sea level rise.
“We need to start planting for the future,” Cortada said. “Our water’s edge is no longer at the coastline. It’s at your feet and at the aquifer, too. In the decades to come, much of our non-salt tolerant tree canopy will not survive the impacts of storm surge and saltwater intrusion, putting us at risk for significant loss of our green landscape, agriculture and shoreline in the Magic City.”
The Plan(T) endeavor coincides with the launch of Cortada Projects, his series of participatory eco-art projects designed to engage concerned citizens and transform them into problem-solvers on environmental issues. In 2004, Cortada drew pictures of mangrove seedlings for volunteers to use in the creation of his Miami Mangrove Forest Project on the I-95 underpasses in Downtown Miami, Little Havana and Allapattah neighborhoods. That process led to Cortada’s acclaimed Reclamation Project, where in partnership with the Frost Science Museum, the community planted eight acres of mangroves in Biscayne Bay as a way to inspire thousands to rebuild the coastal ecosystem.
Never, however, did the Miami artist imagine that 15 years later, he would be asking his neighbors to plant mangroves on the mainland to help facilitate climate conversations, sequester carbon dioxide, and grow the city’s salt-tolerant native tree canopy. “We can no longer bury our heads in the sand on this issue,” adds Cortada. “I plan to engage my fellow citizens to reframe the way that they think as they participate in this innovative county-wide, urban forestation effort to help safeguard vulnerable areas of our city.”
Working with Miami-Dade Parks & Recreation, Cortada and his team will collect thousands of mangrove propagules from various local parks and will harvest them as seedlings to give them away for free to Miami residents at Pinecrest Gardens’ popular Farmers Market, every Sunday through January 12, 2020, as well as all Miami-Dade Public Libraries on January 11, 2020. Each resident also will receive a white flag to write their property’s elevation on it and to plant the flag next to the mangrove seedling in their yard. Research shows that mangrove forests are critical natural barriers against floods and storm surges, and play a crucial role in protecting coastal areas from sea level rise.
In the spirit of his “Underwater HOA” project last year, “Plan(T) will encourage community conversations on sea level rise, including neighbors-to-neighbors who see the white flags, students at 25 local schools, and 50 public libraries throughout Miami-Dade County that will display project information, mangrove seedling exhibits and host student guest speakers as part of the public awareness education campaign. The original drawings from Cortada’s 2004 Miami Mangrove Forest art project will be on display at the Main Public Library in Downtown Miami from September 19, 2019 through January 18, 2020.
Additionally, residents are invited to the launch of Cortada’s “Plan(T)” art exhibition, featuring a wall of mangrove seedlings in water-filled cups, to be held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Hibiscus Gallery at Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 Red Road, on Thursday, September 26, 2019. For Art Basel this year, Pinecrest Gardens is proactively planting the city’s first mangrove forest and will serve as the backdrop for a giant mural Cortada is painting to replicate an art piece he created during his Miami Mangrove Forest Project.
Cortada Projects uses the power of art to engage the community in learning about and addressing important ecological concerns. Exhibitions and programming serve as a platform for community conversation and environmental action. To learn more, visit www.cortadaprojects.org.
ABOUT XAVIER CORTADA
Xavier Cortada is a leading environmental artist, collaborator of the McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) project in Antarctica, University of Miami professor, and was one of 12 artists featured on climate change in the New York Times in 2018. Additionally, Cortada serves as chairman of the Miami-Dade County Cultural Arts Council. The Miami-based artist’s studio is located at the historic Whilden-Carrier Cottage at Pinecrest Gardens, where he serves as artist-in-residence, implements his participatory eco-art Cortada Projects and oversees the Hibiscus Gallery.
Cortada works with scientists and groups globally to produce numerous collaborative art. Several highlights including environmental installations at the North and South Pole that generate awareness about global climate change, 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 and Holland.
He has been commissioned to create art for CERN, the White House, the World Bank, the Florida Supreme Court, the Florida Governor’s Mansion, the Museum of Florida History, the Florida Botanical Gardens, Miami City Hall, the Frost Science Museum, Miami-Dade County Hall, Port Everglades and the Florida Turnpike. 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 & Phillip Frost Art Museum. Cortada’s art also has been featured on National Geographic TV and the Discovery Channel.
ABOUT PINECREST GARDENS
Pinecrest Gardens, South Florida’s Cultural Arts Park, attracts over 160,000 visitors each year. Formerly Parrot Jungle, one of America’s most beloved tourist attractions, the Village of Pinecrest purchased this property in 2002, and in October 2011, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Pinecrest Gardens is a premier venue for the arts, education and environmental conservation and preservation. On any given day, one can experience a live performance in its 500-seat amphitheater, tour the 14 acres of botanical beauty that includes native forested wetland, tropical hardwood hammock and cypress slough or participate in a horticulture or conservation workshop. For more information, visit www.pinecrestgardens.org or follow @PinecrestGardens on social media.