Florida is… Endangered Animals

Submitted by Xavier Cortada

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Client: Florida Department of Transportation | Florida Turnpike

Location: Yeehaw Junction, FL, United States

Completion date: 2015

Artwork budget: $40,000

Project Team

Public Art Agent

Florida Turnpike

Florida Dept. of Transportation | Florida Turnpike

Overview

Cortada portrayed Florida’s endangered land animals in Florida Turnpike’s Ft. Drum plaza (near Orlando). At the main entrance visitors are greeted by an 8’ x 20’ mural of a Florida Panther. “I created the mural in small rectangular pieces to resemble city blocks on a map,” said Cortada. “In the work, I wanted to reference how cars and buildings continue to overtake the panther’s natural habitat. We must find a better way to coexist with nature.”

Goals

Florida’s Turnpike is driving audiences to art exhibits by Xavier Cortada depicting Florida’s sun, animals and flowers. In 2015, Cortada created permanent art installations in three turnpike plazas, making them cultural destinations in and of themselves. Each focused on a different aspect of the sunshine state’s natural beauty: Endangered Animals (Ft. Drum Plaza) | Sunshine (Turkey Lake Plaza) | Wildflowers (West Palm Beach Plaza).

Process

Cortada portrayed Florida’s endangered land animals in Florida Turnpike’s Ft. Drum plaza (near Orlando). At the main entrance visitors are greeted by an 8’ x 20’ mural of a Florida Panther. “I created the mural in small rectangular pieces to resemble city blocks on a map,” said Cortada. “In the work, I wanted to reference how cars and buildings continue to overtake the panther’s natural habitat. We must find a better way to coexist with nature.”

In the dining room, Cortada depicted 12 other Florida land animals threatened by human encroachment and development:

Burrowing Owls | Eastern Indigo Snakes | Florida Bog Frogs | Gopher Tortoises
Key Deer | Lower Keys Rabbits | Miami Blue Butterflies | Red Wolves
Red-cockaded Woodpeckers | Reticulated Flatwoods Salamanders | Stock Island Tree Snails | Wood storks

Additional Information

“It is important to have the artwork connect with our local environment, and I believe that [Cortada’s] art does that in a very sophisticated way,” said architect Bernard Zyscovich in reviewing Cortada’s public art proposal for the plazas he designed. “Additionally, I love the idea of generating a series of “take aways” from [Cortada’s art] plazas and hopefully from the other plazas as well. I think that it reinforces the plaza experience as something that adds value to each visitor’s experience. “