Events & exhibitions

Creative Climate Action: Can Art Protect Us from Rising Seas?

Portrait of Xavier Cortada
Photo courtesy of Xavier Cortada

Xavier Cortada's art serves as a bridge between science and community, transforming public spaces into platforms for climate storytelling and experiential learning. His interdisciplinary practice demonstrates how socially engaged art can cultivate a broad base of people who champion environmental justice and help build the political will necessary for systemic change. A Miami-based artist, Cortada will discuss his innovative approach to stimulating public discourse and ultimately galvanizing action around sea level rise.

The program will include an art-making project, The Underwater, for all in-person attendees.

Discussant: Jinah Kim, Johnson-Kulukundis Family Faculty Director of the Arts, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; and George P. Bickford Professor of Indian and South Asian Art, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

The Kim and Judy Davis Dean’s Lecture Series was established through the generosity of Kim G. Davis AB ’76, MBA ’78, and Judith N. Davis, longtime friends and champions of Harvard Radcliffe Institute. This annual lecture series invites leading figures from across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences to share their expertise, ideas, and diverse perspectives with the Harvard community and the broader public.

Rising Tides and Raising Awareness: Xavier Cortada and His Public Art Initiative "The Underwater" (Harvard Crimson, 4/23/24)


Eco-artist Xavier Cortada uses art’s elasticity to work across disciplines and engage communities in problem solving, awareness, and action around climate change, sea level rise, and biodiversity loss.

The Miami-based Cuban American artist has created art at the North and South poles and across six continents. His work is exhibited internationally, including sites in Bolivia, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Panama, Scotland, South Africa, Switzerland, and Taiwan. Cortada’s work is in the permanent collections of the Perez Art Museum Miami, the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, the Whatcom Museum, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum, and the MDC Museum of Art + Design, among others.

He is the inaugural artist-in-residence for Miami-Dade County and has received a 2023 National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Excellence in Science Communication Award, a 2022 Creative Capital Award, and a 2021 National Wetlands Award from the Environmental Law Institute.

Cortada received bachelors, masters, and law degrees from the University of Miami, where he currently serves as professor of practice in the Department of Art and Art History with secondary appointments in the School of Law and Miller School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics. He is also a research fellow at the Princeton University Center for Migration and Development.

Event Video

Play video of lecture by Xavier Cortada

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