ASC Fall Service Project: Patricia M. Menendez

Artist Xavier Cortada and Cortada Projects

A mangrove seedling in the Hibiscus Gallery installation of Plan(T) at Pinecrest Gardens. Featured in cortadaprojects.org.

Art has always peaked my interest and the environment has always played a major role in my life. So when I was offered an internship by local environmental artist Xavier Cortada I could not pass the opportunity. For my ASC Service Project I served as a Media and Communications Intern for Cortada, with a focus on Cortada Projects, the artist’s social practice collection.

Cortada studied in the University of Miami, where he has earned the following three degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences, a Master of Public Administration in the Miami Business School and a Juris Doctor in the School of Law. Currently, Cortada serves as a Professor of Practice: Artist at the university. He is the artist-in-residence at Pinecrest Gardens.

Because his art has a focus on community engagement with regional and global environmental issues, it has taken him to many places aside from Miami, including Antarctica, Taiwan, Hawaii and Holland.

As the Media and Communications Intern, I have been helping Cortada with his work in Miami by managing his three websites (cortadaprojects.org, cortada.com, and hibiscusgallery.com) as well as those sites’ associated social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). In addition to this, I have also taken photo and video of the artist’s events and have mainly focused on content for his latest county-wide eco-art project, Plan(T).

Plan(T) Launch pictures taken and posted on social media by Patricia Menendez.

Cortada’s Plan(T) tackles the climate change crisis in South Florida by asking residents to plant mangrove seedlings in their yards in order to prepare for rising sea levels and saltwater intrusion. The project serves as a successor to Cortada’s Reclamation Project, which began in 2006 and aimed to restore mangroves to South Florida’s coasts by reclaiming the land for the native plants. With Plan(T), Cortada now takes a further step by creating an urban mangrove forest of sorts by restoring the region’s native tree canopy through its very residents’ property. Residents are also asked to calculate their home’s elevation and mark it on a flag that is to be placed next to the mangrove, so that when neighbors, family or friends pass by it they may ask what it means. This starts the conversation on climate change and spreads awareness on the impacts it will have on the South Florida community.

Pinecrest Elementary students in front of school’s Plan(T) installation (left and taken by Adam Roberti). Plan(T) Coral Gables Library Presentation (top right). Plan(T) tent at Pinecrest Elementary’s Superhero fest (bottom and taken by Adam Roberti).

Plan(T) installation in the Pinecrest Branch Library.

Moreover, the project has been installed in all 50 Miami-Dade public libraries, the University of Miami, schools, the Frost Science Museum and the Starbucks at Lincoln Road Mall. The Plan(T) installation consists of mangrove propagules in water-filled compostable clear cups being set in a grid like pattern, as seen in the picture.

Since I began interning for Cortada in September, I have not only grown in my professional skills but I have also grown personally. This internship has shown me what it’s like working for a seasoned artist in a fast-paced environment and how action can be achieved through art. Xavier Cortada’s Plan(T) and other projects like Underwater HOA, challenge the community to think, act and care for their own future and the future of their posterity. Art doesn’t happen on a blank canvas, art happens on any canvas the artist sets his mind to. Cortada’s canvas is South Florida.

Website pages created by Patricia Menendez.

Through my internship I have learned how to manage sites with WordPress, manage time, manage social media, create media content, and engage the South Florida community through art. This internship allowed me to work with an incredible artist, incredible people, and an incredible cause. It also gave me the opportunity to combine my field of work (Digital Communications and Media) with my passion. With the climate crisis just starting, the work that artist Xavier Cortada, Director of Cortada Projects Adam Roberti and the rest of the team at Cortada Projects is doing is essential and innovative. They are creating art that engages the community in a fun way, and they have given me hope for a better future for the place I call home.

Maria Briz, David Carson, Adam Roberti, Xavier Cortada, Jerome Frost, Patricia Menendez, Hannah Hossan and Jamal Wilson (from left to right). Captured by Rachel Pinzur.

Total Hours: 100

Sources:

cortadaprojects.org/the-artist

cortadaprojects.org/plant

cortada.com/reclamation

STUDENT BIO

My name is Patricia M. Menendez, and I am a junior at Florida International University pursuing a B.S. in Digital Communication and Media and a B.A. in Sustainability and the Environment. In the near future I hope to be working with an environmental-based company that educates and enlightens the public through a multimedia platform.

Leave a Reply