At 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 10, the day before Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the Village of Palmetto Bay will dedicate Xavier Cortada’s “Flower Force” sculpture at the traffic circle on 168th St. and SW 82nd Ave., officially launching an innovative public art initiative that will engage 200 Palmetto Bay households in ecological restoration.
Using the public art piece as the heart of the effort, Cortada is giving away wildflowers and a ceramic wildflower sculpture to the first 200 Palmetto Bay families who agree to plant the flowers in their yard and install the ceramic sculpture outside of their home, thereby joining the Flower Force. Through this process, a community-wide public art installation of wildflower sculptures and gardens will radiate from the flower sphere at the traffic circle and extend to the rest of the Village.
The artist hopes that by activating the central sculpture with community members, discussions are generated about saving pollinators, transforming lawns into gardens that conserve water, decreasing the use of pesticides and protecting ecosystems across South Florida.
“The site of this public art piece is on the historic hunting grounds of the Tequesta people who lived a mile to the east, along the water’s edge,” said Cortada. “In 1513, conquistadores claimed the peninsula for Spain and named it La Florida – from flor, the Spanish word for flower. That encounter with Western colonizers five centuries ago initiated a series of actions that forever changed our state and its ecosystems.”
On July 17, 1821, Spain formally transferred Florida to the United States. Cortada stated that since then, we have continued to transform our landscape – slowly at first, but then irrevocably after the Industrial Revolution and during the 20th century.
“We’ve drained the Everglades, dredged beaches, paved roads and planted monocultures where there was once wilderness,” he said. “We’ve redistributed waterways, poisoned rivers, and infiltrated aquifers with salt water. We’ve watched politicians rise to power and deny the human impacts on the largest threat we now face: global climate change and sea level rise. On this 200th anniversary year, I want us to reflect on all of this and try to ameliorate the situation – to plan and plant a better future for those who will follow.”
Residents of the Village of Palmetto Bay that are interested in joining the Flower Force and receiving one of Cortada’s ceramic wildflower sculptures are invited to register their household at www.cortada.com/flowerforce. The sculptures and wildflower plants will be given away to registered households following the public art dedication at 3:30 p.m. at Coral Reef Park. A maximum of 200 households are eligible to sign up. Once the 200 spots have been filled, residents can participate by purchasing a “Flower Force” package at www.cortada.com/flower-force-package.