Underwater GUlf

During summer 2022, artist Xavier Cortada mapped the Gulf Coast by placing elevation markers at city halls in four coastal states – Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana – depicting their elevations above sea level. By doing this at the very place where city officials make decisions about municipal budgets, as well as land use, planning and zoning, Cortada made visible the threat that sea level rise poses to each city’s future tax base.

Bradenton, Florida

mobile, alabama

Biloxi, mississippi

new orleans, louisiana


This project is an extension of Cortada’s “Underwater HOA,” a socially engaged art project launched in 2018 that saw participants display their property elevations across the community: Using an app, residents discover their property’s elevation above sea level and then install a “UHOA marker” (a yard sign that has the number depicting their house’s elevation) in their front yard. In addition to the personalized signs, the UHOA partnered with the Village of Pinecrest and local public high schools to paint elevation markers on four major intersections along Pinecrest’s Killian Drive. Cortada’s Antarctic Ice Paintings serve as the markers’ backdrop, a literal depiction of melted Antarctic ice.