Forget the Champs Elysees. If you really want to experience climate change this week, travel to the Milander Center in Hialeah. There, in the cultural center of Florida’s fifth largest city, a film of a pink-faced, black-suited man haplessly filling ice trays in the surf plays continuously on a wall. “This water she can tell stories,” a plaque declares. “150 miles out she drowned an entire village … and she’s about to do it all over again.”
The exhibition, called Clima, opened on November 30, the first day of the United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference, and will be on display through January 29, 2016. All pieces are the creation of Xavier Cortada, artist in residence at Florida International University, whose work is inspired by science and the natural world. Together with Florida International University, the City of Hialeah, and cleanenergy.org (a solar advocacy group), Cortada will also host expert panels during the Paris talks on local environmental issues.
At the opening night panel discussion, FIU Sea Level Solutions Center Director Tiffany Troxler and School of Environment, Arts and Society Director Evelyn Gaiser explained how ocean intrusion threatens to seep under the city, pushing its underlying fresh water above ground. Honors College Dean Juan Carlos Espinosa showed photos of Hialeah flooding in the Twentieth Century, as well as Miami-Dade County’s high risk flood zone map, which includes Hialeah along with the waterfront areas of Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, and Bayshore Drive.
“As Paris talks, Hialeah acts,” Cortada announced to a room of more than 100 people on the exhibit’s opening night, adding that climate change “is a global problem with local answers.” More information >>