Xavier Cortada uses his art to tangibly drive home the point that the sea levels are rising and we must face that fact—and hopefully do something about it. He wants his art to both bring awareness and inspire people to take tangible actions to prevent climate change. He was first inspired by a trip to Antartica and has since become well-known for his art installations, which focus on themes of climate change and its impacts on water levels and biodiversity.
One example of how he brings his art into action is with his recent PlanT exhibit in Miami. This participatory eco-art exhibit had volunteers giving away mangrove seedlings for people to plant in the area, because the water is rising—and once the seedlings grow into trees, they will be underwater. This participatory element is ominous but also empowering for the audience. The fact that much of Miami will be underwater is something that is obviously difficult to face, but then the audience is actually involved and takes something tangible with them that is a small step to help combat climate change.
Art is a universal language, and climate change is a universal problem that spans languages, cultures, and continents, so Cortada's work is a powerful vehicle to carry his message of urgent change and the need for action and hope.