Skyler Hayman: Miami as Text

Photo taken of Skyler Hayman in 2020 by Judenjy Jean

Hello reader. My name is Skyler Hayman, but everyone calls me Sky. I identify as a non-binary queer human being who was born and raised in Miami, FL and birthed from two immigrant parents who are originally from Nicaragua. All pronouns are welcomed and so are your comments. I am a junior at Florida International University double majoring in International Business and Marketing. Art has always and will always hold a special spot in my heart as it is a way to connect with other human beings through time and space. In the future, I hope to become a product/project manager, but my goal in life is to gain as many memories and experiences as I can.

Deering As Test: “Category Is… Richmond Realness” by Skyler Hayman of FIU at Deering Estate

Photo taken by Skyler Hayman in 2020 inside the Richmond Cottage in the Deering Estate

Fashion is an art form that is constantly changing, improving, and being reinvented.

As seen in the photo above it is an example of what a wealthy woman of those times would consider fashionable. It’s the early 1900’s in Miami and women suffered in heat to be with the trends and seen as a respectable person. Keep in mind that this is a layered outfit with small torso to show off a feminine figure, but at the cost of being uncomfortable, sweaty, and most likely tired.

We now know, that fashion is different all around the world and at times, weather is a factor on deciding what’s trendy and what is allowed to be worn. This was the type of fashion that not only did the Deerings’ wear but was also encouraged for those around them to be presentable too, including the help.

Similarities from those times to now are body types. When looking up fashion from this era, it shows women who have a small waist and a long gown, could be signifying long legs. Models now are continuing this trend by being thin and having long legs. Differences now are that the world of fashion is being more acceptable to other skin colors, but also taking in account of the women that belong to different cultures. Don’t forget that women in general are allowed to show more skin now in certain part of the world.

Overall, having a peak at not only this time era, but also the location, we see they type of culture that was brewing in Miami at this time. The Richmond Cottage was converted into an Inn but not only was it a resting place for people, but also a temporary moment for different visitors to share their differences and similarities in what they wore and their culture from either their part of Florida or elsewhere.

South Beach As Text: “Don’t White People Own This?” by Skyler Hayman of FIU at South Beach

Collage of photos taken by Skyler Hayman in 2020 in South Beach

As we begin to go further into our explorations of Miami, South Beach is a place that could never be skipped over. South Beach has gone by and still goes by many names, but the history of the place will remain the same.

Walking through the streets of South Beach and not only was it a unique experience, but an actual walk through memory lane. Buildings have been torn down, renovated, rebuilt, or even kept the same. Seeing the history of these buildings speak through their names and even their architecture.

Having gone through these streets and their history, the string that ties them all together are the white people that have navigated it’s history into the future. Did the big white names actually construct these buildings? No. They have called the shots about who can live there and who can hang out there and exactly where all these things happen.

To this day, the segregated parts of South Beach still continue to be separated. Everything below 5th street is not blocked off and not protected the same way everything above 5th street is. Above 5th street there are blockades that don’t allow cars to drive through those streets which have been places because of the pandemic, but still protect only those buildings. Many buildings have been built in an Art Deco style down this side of South Beach that have kept authenticity of these buildings, but were only protected by another white person.

South Beach today is now the center of Miami, regardless of geographic location. It’s our main attraction that’s placed in the intros of movies and shows, but it is our duty to learn its history which will overall deepen our love and appreciation for Miami.

Bakehouse As Text: “Science But Make It Artsy” by Skyler Hayman of FIU at Bakehouse

Photo taken by Skyler Hayman in 2020 inside the Bakehouse

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word coral reef? Did you think of some ocean somewhere? Coral reefs are one of the most essential ecosystems of the sea. Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea in which they provide a home to many species and are also protectors. Worst part is, they’re depleting and it’s our fault.

So how do you tell the world about something sad and scary, but in a way that won’t make them want to ignore the issue? Art. While at the bakehouse, science was being explained through art and its medium was clay. Repurposed clay was being given the chance to explain science through a story that still being created. Coral reef molds, clay, and a lot of teamwork is telling a scary story about how our coral reefs are depleting and it’s our fault, but there are way we can help.

This is just one of many examples of how science can communicate through art. This time it’s an exhibit about a lost city found underwater using clay, but next time it could be a movie or a painting. This project does not only show how science and art can be intertwined, but how any subjects can come together and still relay a message.

Rubell As Text: “Rubells Take On Contemporary Art” by Skyler Hayman of FIU at Rubell Museum Contemporary Arts Foundation

Photo taken by Skyler Hayman in 2020 inside the Rubell Museum Contemporary Art Foundation

It has been said before that art is a story that each person interprets differently. Aside from being a story. art is a freedom of expression that is used to communicate with people through space and time. So what exactly is the image above telling you?

The Rubell family started with one art work that they were paying with weekly installments to now becoming one of the biggest contemporary art collections in North America. They know that art is not made to be transactions being passed around for one individual, but rather to share with the world. The art works are on display without censorship in their rawest form.

Contemporary art is more of a modern art which makes this museum more reachable to it’s visitors by being able to connect with them. Some art works may seem confusing and hard to understand and other art works look astonishing and beautiful. However, they all fall under the genre of contemporary art because they are from artists living today.

Each of these art works have a background on how and why it was made. Many times artists do not want to provide too much of an explanation behind their work only because they want to leave those consuming it to interpret it for themselves. How do you see contemporary art now?

Deering Hike As Text: “Nature: Where Past Meets Present” by Skyler Hayman of FIU at Deering Estate

Photo taken by Skyler Hayman in 2020 during a hike of the Deering Estate

Aside from the mosquitos buzzing in one’s ear, the climbing temperatures, and occasional breeze, during this hike the past presented itself to its future but our present.

Water in nature is a life-support for all who drink from it. It was a feast for those who eat of its living organisms. In the past, hunters and gatherers would take complete advantage of a place like this one. Not only did it provide a nourishing and thirst-quenching experience, but it also provided them with food to survive until they encounter another opportunity like this one.

Nature provided rocks that were at times perfectly shaped to skin a fish, sharpen a spear, or even dig a hole in the ground. It was nature’s way of helping out the humans in the past. Nature continues to do these things whether or not humankind has advanced far from it. This is where the present meets the past, which is their future.

We now see parts of nature like these or even at times find the same tools they used back then in those places at this time and think how fascinating it is or think how they survive and definitely surprised to how far we have come.

Nature continues to live on in the same way as it used to even to certain animals. Those species who don’t have the power, mentally or physically, to move past the times of hunter and gatherer. We have done damage to these places, but we most also give back to the places who helped us get here.

Downtown Miami As Text: “Dear Tequestas, I’m Sorry” by Skyler Hayman of FIU at Downtown Miami

Photo taken by Skyler Hayman in 2020 during a walking tour of Downtown Miami

Downtown Miami today is the hub to find all different types of people ranging from culture, socioeconomic status, sexuality, religion etc. and it can be seen with the architecture of the buildings, the people walking the streets, and even the type of places to eat. But before all the sights to see, there were Native Americans residing there. They were pushed down south then moved again just so Downtown could become Downtown.

The Tequestas were a tribe like many others that were forcibly removed from many places just so that non natives could steal their land and turn them into whatever they wanted. The history of Downtown Miami is not spoken of much because we are too occupied with concentrating on the diversity of right now. People of color built Miami, but we only acknowledge the ones who were forcing these people to build.

However, houses like in the image above give an exceptional story. An interracial couple lived in that home. A white man was married to his black wife and they had kids and took care of them in that house. Interracial couples seem normal to us now, but were a huge controversy back in those times. This is what Miami is truly about. Downtown Miami itself is a mixture of all different kinds of people with different backgrounds and who have different experiences.

Downtown Miami is even home to other histories. There is a piece of the Berlin Wall in front of the Miami-Dade College that has it’s own story with the past dean. Downtown Miami is a wonderful place that is a very important place for many people. The history of it and those who worked for it to get there is not spoken about enough or one to truly acknowledge and appreciate it.

Mangroves As Text: “Pick Up After Yourselves” by Skyler Hayman of FIU at Deering Estate

Photo taken by Skyler Hayman in 2020 while canoeing in the mangroves of the Deering Estate

This is now my third time visiting the Deering Estate. Every single time I go, it seems like I am stepping into a whole new world. From the Richmond Cottage to the hike trail, to now this. The mangroves at the Deering Estate. The weather was nice, the people were, great and the water was beautiful.

However, like many beautiful things in nature, the deeper you look the sooner you’ll find how humans have ruined it. Before getting to work, we had the opportunity to canoe deep within the mangroves and have a moment to take in its beauty. The crabs crawling on the branches, the spiders weaving their webs, and fellow classmates tipping their canoe. This experience was an unforgettable one.

After some fun, it was time to remember why we were there. This was more than just picking up trash from humans that got entangled within the mangroves. This was an apology to mother nature. We were able to recover a lot of trash that were thrown off boats and somehow got into the mangroves. I was one of the students who tipped over their canoe so I was figuratively and literally submersed within the mangroves. Wet and all, we continued to pick up after others. After our canoes were filled with trash and soaking wet students, we paddled our way back to shore to dispose of what we collected. The only message I can share is, pick up after yourselves.

Everglades As Text: “Slough Slogging Adventures” by Skyler Hayman of FIU at Everglades National Park

Photos taken by Skyler Hayman in 2021 in Everglades National Park

When talking to any Floridian, they know the general area of where the Everglades are. Even referring to it as “the Everglades” was very Floridian of me. However, not everyone knows how it works or even the history of it. Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. As more and more people came down, they began to redirect water flow and build on the Everglades which has now become towns people live in. There are efforts to restore the water flow and to maintain the land that wasn’t completely destroyed when making South Florida.

I am not new to the Everglades nor am I new to slough slogging. However, passing down the opportunity to go on such an adventure again, especially with new people and great guideS, is impossible. This time, I got to slough slog in a new area that is truly breathtaking as can be seen on the left of the photo above. It was the same activity, but in a new location with new people and new information made it feel like I was doing it for the first time.

After a brief lunch intermission, I was thrown into a new area where there was a boardwalk trail that allowed me to continue to see a different side of the Everglades. This side can be seen on the right of the photo provided from above. This trail seemed brighter and more open all while maintaining an adventurous scene. Birds catching prey, mating, and even defecating set the scene that could be shared with first time visitors and avid bird watchers.

Lastly, a few of us took the extra step and went on another mini trail right next to this one, which again felt like a whole new scene. I don’t know how mother nature does it, but what I do know is that sights and experiences like these can not be passed on. Everglades National Park is more than just a swamp, but rather a world of worlds of beautiful explorations that needs to be taken advantage of.

Margulies As Text: “Contemporary Art Exhibit A” by Skyler Hayman of FIU at Margulies Collection at the Warehouse

Photo taken by Skyler Hayman in 2021 inside the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse

As we know, contemporary art is the art of the modern day world. It’s unexplainable yet interesting. To some people they just see a 5 year olds art class project and others can feel the intent and emotion of each artist and understand the concept. The difference lies in one aspect, art education.

While touring the collection, there were many moments where I questioned myself “Do I lack the art education to understand this?” and most times I did until later where the piece was explained to me and I was able to understand how the artist was able to obtain that piece. Some art works spoke for themselves. It was able to communicate its purpose by making one feel the art with their eyes or the space it was in.

The best part about going to see art with others is that each person is able to interpret the art in their own different way. We came across an artwork that was made entirely of rocks. To most of us, it was a beautiful piece of artwork that came from nature until a classmate spoke up and was able to see that even though it was a nice piece, it was harmful to the environment that these rocks were taken from. A business person, an environmentalist, and an artist all saw the same piece and all took away something different and that relates back to my statement that art is a way to connect with other human beings through time and space.

This collection is one that I recommend one goes to see without judgement and reservations about art, but an open mind that is open to seeing the artwork from different perspectives.

Bill Baggs As Text: “Lighthouse Tales” by Skyler Hayman of FIU at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Photo taken by Skyler Hayman in 2021 in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

And there I was again, diving into history through the landmarks that were there and stories told by people who heard it from other people who heard it from the friends of the people who experienced it. Hearing about who built the land and who claimed it and who discovered it and slightly distracted by those who were there standing in front of me. Standing in the shade of the same lighthouse we weren’t allowed to enter because of the pandemic. Hearing the same ocean waves those before me have heard and those after me might not get to hear.

Applying previous knowledge of people before us like the Tequestas and the Afro-Bahamians and seeing how they would’ve lived in this area. Using the lenses of the past and trying to see our present in their future. Runaway slaves seeking freedom in the same place people are now taking photoshoots and having lunch. Seeing a home built in the middle of it all that didn’t belong there with its two chimneys in Miami, Florida…. the sunshine state.

Our fun didn’t stop there. After having a sweet encounter with the wildlife in the man made area of trees planted there to rejuvenate the place and bring back the beauty of it, it was time to have a beach cleanup. It was our time to give back to the same Earth that provided stories, tales, and a gorgeous view. Walking alongside the water still thinking about the history of the people before me. Wondering if they showered or played on the same beach I am cleaning up. These were the tales provided to us while standing next to a lighthouse that has been there for years and more years to come.

River of Grass As Text: “Abandoned Tomato Farm” by Skyler Hayman of FIU at Everglades National Park

Photo taken by Skyler Hayman in 2021 in Everglades National Park

Looking at the image above, tell me what you see. If you answered some grass and the sky, you’re correct. But I promise you it’s way more than just that. What’s not captured in the photo is actually how wet and muddy the floor where the grass stands really is.

Before our wild adventure, we had a walk through the past visiting an old missile sight in the Everglades. Seeing a missile sight and knowing that back in the day if need be, the U.S. government would’ve cause tremendous damage to the this unique ecosystem. Shortly after this small blast to the past, we actually dove into the everglades.

It wasn’t my first trip to the Everglades and I highly doubt it’ll be my last. We were on this long journey to see a farmer’s house that was in the middle of this abandoned tomato farm that turned into a habitat for animals who have been forced into this sanctuary. Our class stomped and tracked through this terrain and now we have left our mark in this spot of the Everglades. Our adventure was also filled with iconic sights of spoonbills that soared through the sky.

Author: Skyler Hayman

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