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"May It Please the Court" exhibit at FIU College of Law
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"May It Please the Court" exhibit at FIU College of Law


When: 1/15/2010
Where: Florida International University - College of Law
11200 S.W. 8th Street
Miami, Florida  33199
Florida International University - College of Law


May it Please the Court
Xavier Cortada

In preparing "May It Please the Court,"  a 2004 solo exhibit in the rotunda of the Supreme Court of Florida, Xavier Cortada painted seven paintings portraying landmark US Supreme Court cases originating Florida, the artist's home state. The paintings, which remained at the Supreme Court through 2009, are now on long term loan to Florida International University College of Law. 

On January 16th, 2010, Xavier Cortada joined Dean Acosta and President Rosenberg in presenting his May it Please the Court exhibit at FIU.  For more information, please read student news article by clicking here:

Xavier Cortada, Gideon v. Wainwright, 48" x 36", oil on canvas, 2004

372 U.S. 335 (1963)

If an obscure Florida convict named Clarence
Earl Gideon had not sat down in prison with a
pencil and paper to write a letter to the Supreme
Court; if the Supreme Court had not taken the
trouble to look at the merits in that one crude
petition among all the bundles of mail it must
receive everyday, the vast machinery of
American law would have gone on functioning
undisturbed. But Gideon did write that letter;
the court did look into his case; and he was re-
tried with the help of competent defense
counsel; found not guilty and released from
prison after two years of punishment for a crime
he did not commit. And the whole course of
legal history has been changed.

(Kennedy, 1963) 

In researching Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), I found that Bobby Kennedy quote and instantly came up with my composition about the landmark case on "the right to an attorney.”  Instead of focusing on what Gideon was unable to do in the courtroom without an attorney ("lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries"), I focused on what he did accomplish after he was sentenced. 
Gideon could have literally done what his cell mate is doing in my painting, just sitting back and rotting away in jail. He could have used that paper as toilet paper. Instead, what Gideon decided to do is act. Because Gideon decided to write from his cell, others were guaranteed a right to counsel before being sent to theirs.

Even in the most isolated, remote place, he said, ‘I am going to challenge.’ For someone who is marginalized to that level: no money, no nothing, no power;  a  roamer, a drifter now sitting in jail. And you can single-handedly change the course of history.  

I think it speaks volumes for what we as individuals in a society can do.  

Xavier Cortada 
Event Photos

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11/12/2014 » 12/17/2014
Littoral Creatures: Broward College Exhibit and Lecture

FIU College of Architecture + The Arts

Xavier Cortada
Florida International University
College of Architecture + The Arts
420 Lincoln Road, Suite 430
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Xavier Cortada's participatory art practice is based at Florida International University.


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Xavier Cortada created art installations at the North Pole and South Pole to address environmental concerns at every point in between. He’s been commissioned to create art for the White House, the World Bank, Miami City Hall, Miami-Dade County Hall, Florida Botanical Gardens, the Miami Art Museum, Museum of Florida History, Miami Science Museum and the Frost Art Museum. Cortada has also developed numerous collaborative art projects globally, including peace murals in Cyprus and Northern Ireland, child welfare murals in Bolivia and Panama, AIDS murals in Switzerland and South Africa, and eco-art projects in HollandHawaiiNew HampshireLatvia and Taiwan

Cortada serves as artist-in-residence at the The FIU | College of Architecture + The Arts.  FIU | CARTA engages our local and global communities by deploying the power of architecture + the arts to createinnovate, and inspire solutions to social, economic, and environmental problems. Offering 9 graduate and 8 undergraduate degrees within 7 academic departments, our more than 2,500 majors have the unique experience working with our award-winning faculty, in nationally ranked programs, in the heart of Miami — one of the country’s most vibrant, diverse, and creative cities! For more information, visit us at