Mayami, City of Big Water, by Shelly Leitheiser
Mayami, City of Big Water, by Shelly Leitheiser

This painting started out as something else entirely. It started out very abstract, and it somehow became  jungly and floral, which is not something I usually think of doing. It ended up as this dense abstract canopy suggesting jungle or gardens and through a break in the leaves, you can see a distant city. It is an acrylic on canvas, 36″ x 24″.

I felt his shining city was Miami in the future, maybe when it’s re-discovered by a new civilization.  I have been to Miami and was struck by how close to sea level the buildings are. In fact, it’s nearly in the ocean already, so it won’t take much sea level rise to flood Miami (something that is already happening.)

So I gave this painted city its ancient name, Mayami, which means Big Water, to distance it from the present, and knowing that some day nature will take over and cover Miami with the Atlantic Ocean, as the sea level rises due to climate change. For people who want to learn more about why the sea level is rising, read this article. Here is a quote from it:

“South Florida has two big problems. The first is its remarkably flat topography. Half the area that surrounds Miami is less than five feet above sea level. Its highest natural elevation, a limestone ridge that runs from Palm Beach to just south of the city, averages a scant 12 feet. With just three feet of sea-level rise, more than a third of southern Florida will vanish; at six feet, more than half will be gone; if the seas rise 12 feet, South Florida will be little more than an isolated archipelago surrounded by abandoned buildings and crumbling overpasses.”

Mayami is an imagining of something quite a bit prettier than all that, but keep in mind it’s a very far-off view. (And as for the word “doomed” in the title of article, calm down.  If you live in Miami, there is still a lot of time to move or sell your property (maybe 5 years?). But I wouldn’t be buying beach front property anywhere right now since the warming in Antarctica is increasing and more and more ice is breaking off and melting every month.  Your condo on the beach will be mostly worthless in 20 years, as it will be flooded.

As Antarctica melts, so does Greenland’s ice, and  scientists expect some serious sea level rise.

I guess this was all in the back of my mind when I was painting this, because environmental issues in general worry me a lot, and are generally the inspiration for much of my artwork.