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Our Community (is like a Mangrove Forest)

Xavier Cortada, Our Community (is like a Mangrove Forest), 80" x 210", acrylic on canvas, 2004 (


The Board of County Commissioners commissioned Miami artist Xavier Cortada to create this mural to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Community Relations Board.  The artist painted mangroves to depict our interconnectedness as a community.  According to Cortada, "We all come from different places to make Miami our home, much like a mangrove seedling that washes up on a Florida sandbar set roots, grows and helps to build an ecosystem that nurtures life.  By reaching out to others we build a stronger community, much like mangrove “walking feet” do to build intricate root systems that protect our shores from erosion during a storm.”

This mural was unveiled by Commission Chairman Joe Martinez on January 7, 2005 at County Hall.  Click here to read press release.




Cortada used the metaphor of a mangrove forest in another local public art project:
Art Basel Miami Beach 2004
Miami Mangrove Forest

Xavier Cortada chose the image of the mangrove tree as the centerpiece of the Miami Mangrove Forest public art project to the transform clammy, dingy and dark places beneath Miami’s highways.  Cortada decided to recreate the underpass' natural environment when the first European settlers arrived: a mangrove forest.

Miami is a young City.  Instead of painting a full grown forest, Cortada chose to portray the mangrove early in its lifecycle of growth: a sea of floating seedlings readying to set their roots. Mangrove seedlings serve as a metaphor to honor the people who made the journey to Miami and decided to set their roots here. "We’ve all come from different places to make Miami our home," said Cortada, "much like a mangrove seed washes up and takes root on a Florida sandbar and helps builds new land where new life can take hold."

The mangrove roots symbolize the residents who have set roots in their neighborhood and built community. “Having this painted forest's roots spread across these different neighborhoods, depicts our interconnectedness,” stated the artist, “by reaching out to others, we build a stronger community, much like the walking feet of mangrove roots do to build formidable structures and nurture new life.”

Portraying the natural world in urban spaces is also important because it reminds us of what was here before all the concrete was poured.  As generations and growth transform Miami, we as a people are grounded by nature, the one constant in this ever changing and wonderful city.  

Around Town PhotoFair takes art to the street with outdoor exhibits, by Daniel Chang.  Published on December 3rd, 2004 in The Miami Herald (Miami, FL).
Art Basel to attract thousands of artists to South Beach, by Ginelle G. Torres.  Published December 1, 2004 in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL).





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Xavier Cortada has exhibited his works in museums, galleries, and cultural venues around the world and has pioneered the use of the Internet in collaborative art-making. The Miami-based Cuban-American artist, attorney, and activist has worked collaboratively with diverse groups across the United States, Latin America, Europe and Africa to create pro-social community murals and participant-driven art projects. 

Cortada has created art for:

The White House
The World Bank
The Florida Capitol
The Florida Supreme Court
Miami-Dade County Juvenile Courthouse
Miami-Dade Art in Public Places
Miami Art Museum
World AIDS Conferences

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