Claudia Martinez: Miami as Text 2020-2021

Claudia Martinez pictured at Palm Court. Photo by CC Martinez/ CC BY 4.0

Claudia Martinez is a newly transferred student from Miami Dade College. She has a passion for the world of financial economics and pursues a career in stock brokerage. Some hobbies include travel, ice skating and of course keeping up with the latest market trends. Miami is a beautiful and vivid green city that she loves exploring and hopes to see it in a new light through the lens of Miami in Miami.

Deering As Text

Deering Estate type of class. Photo by CC Martinez, / cc by 4.0

Deering Estate: A Glance Into The Past

by Claudia Martinez of FIU at Deering Estate, 2 September 2020.

On September 2nd, 2020, I began the journey of Miami in Miami. Little did I know about the site known as Deering Estate, but nevertheless I was going to take advantage of exploring the natural tropical hardwood hammock, the Gumbo Limbo and the diverse habitats that Deering States boasts about. Interesting enough, one of the first things introduced to me was a three story stoned mansion which had both Spanish influenced walls and Islamic styled windows. Another distinct piece of architecture standing alongside of it was the Richmond cottage, and as you guessed, it is inclined to American influence. While venturing further on, I noticed a Tequesta Burial Mound that was carefully preserved with its own area. Now, this is no ordinary burial mound but it is a hidden treasure in the eyes of historians and archeologists as this is a prehistoric mound that once belonged to the Tequesta civilization. At the end of the day, I looked back and reflected on how much history and diversity of civilizations stood in one site alone. My perspective in Miami stands challenged as I believed Miami to be the city known for its Art Deco influence and Spanish roots but I now know that there is so much more to it. There is a world of history behind it and it was not established by the Europeans but before that there were great civilizations with a story to tell. I may not have been there physically in time to see it all happen, but I was living a day in their lives while I was walking through Deering Estate.

South Beach As Text

Claudia Martinez pictured at Miami Beach. Photo by CC Martinez/ cc by 4.0

South Beach’s Colorful History: An Architectural Fun Zone

By Claudia Martinez Of FIU at South Beach, 16 September 2020.

Being brought up in suburban Kendall, South Beach always seemed like the center of civilization in Miami. Despite being an Economics Major, I have long been an Architecture Enthusiast but it was until today that I was only familiar with South Beach’s famous Art Deco style as it is the world’s greatest concentration of this type. I was in for a big surprise when I realized the different influences that greeted many walks of life to this tourist hotspot. This is all grand and all but I was shocked to hear about the origins of Miami Beach as what it used to be, a mangrove barrier island and contrary to myth it was inhabited and also not a wasteland. On the other hand, leaning towards the Art Deco influence on South Beaches, I felt a greater connection to the Art Deco influence after hearing the story behind their composition. The buildings try to portray machines, space ships and even appliances! I may not know about you, but that makes so much more sense to me and in fact causes me to appreciate the Art Deco scene to a more personal level. Art Deco did not just stop there. They integrated designs from Mesopotamia and Mesoamerica that made me transitions from modern era to early civilizations. From beautiful ziggurat rooflines to three story buildings that are conveniently divided by three facades. As a visual person, I cannot help but admire so much detail in one foundation! Even though, South Beach is a glamorous site there is more to its history and origins that contributes to the lively atmosphere that it is so greatly known for.

Downtown As Text

Congregates at Gesu Church ‘Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels’. Photy by CC Martinez / cc by 4.0

Meeting Miami’s History At Its Center: A Story Of Two Sides

By Claudia Martinez of FIU at Downtown Miami, 30 September 2020.

Today I did not go to Downtown Miami for a simple leisure trip, I went to learn about the Tequesta civilization whose center lied at this very place that we call downtown. Yes, it turns out that just as downtown is a hotspot to Miami residents, this same area was a hotspot to Tequesta civilizations before us. In fact, when Juan Ponce de Leon first arrived to this area that the Tequesta called home, he arrived in what is called the Miami Circle. So you see, here we have a historical landmark that marks the encounter of two distinct civilizations, the Spanish and the Native Americans coming together. Today Miami’s history repeats itself again on a larger scale as many different cultures come together to meet in this great big hotspot. On the other hand, I was finally able to encounter the oldest known standing house in Miami. The house dates back to the 1850’s, that’s even older than Miami itself! The house was built by William Wagner who was breaking the norms that were considered back in his day unheard of. He is a European young male at the time who is married to a colored woman and that was basically out of protocol at his time. However, just like story, the Wagner House remains until this day. Another foundation that I could not stop thinking about was the Gesu Church. The Gesu church is unlike any other church I have seen in Miami. The church is made up of colorful tinted windows, adorned ceilings, chandeliers and even frescoes of biblical scenes. Now I may not be religious but I felt like I was sharing the same faith as anyone else who congregates there. I felt so identified. Learning about downtown Miami’s distinct historical landmarks impacted me on a personal level, Miami has a story to tell and one worth listening too.

Chicken Key As Text

Claudia Martinez Pictured at Chicken Key Island. Photo by CC Martinez, / cc by 4.0

Journey To Chicken Key Island: Discovering A Natural Beach

By Claudia Martinez of FIU at Chicken Key Island, 14 October 2020.

No journey in the Miami in Miami course has ever disappointed and this was no exception. After two weeks of juggling work, study and health, I found myself dragging to go to the next class unsuspecting of what was to come and how much I needed to try something new for the first time in a long while. As I went on my way to Deering Estate, I had gradually started to adopt a new attitude as the cloudless sky lured me in and a windy front welcomed me into the estate. As soon as I got in the canoe, I focused less on deadlines and exams and more on staying present in a beautiful crossing between Deering Estate and Chicken Key Island. I did not know much about canoeing as this was my first time but learning something new was the high point of my day and I enjoyed every second of it. Finally after arriving to Chicken Key Island, I got to see what a real beach looks like and more importantly after canoeing for the first time for a mile, it was more than reasonable to dive in the refreshing water of the island. I was so glad that I had overcome the lack of enthusiasm of coming to class and realized how fortunate I was to enjoy a full class of students at an uninhabited island specially during a real time pandemic. Progressing on to our mission which was to do a clean up, I along with my classmates, managed to fill up are canoes with trash that reached the island through currents. You would be surprised at what I found. From unopened beer cans to even a covid-19 mask found by my professor. By doing a cleanup along the island we were not only having a positive impact on the wild life itself, but also on ourselves as people who will shape tomorrow’s society and values. After today’s trip I was no longer the same person that walked in before class but I was positively impacting the community and myself as well.

Bakerhouse As Text

Claudia Martinez and classmates pictured at Bakerhouse Art Complex. Photo by N. Patrick/ cc by 4.0

Bringing Coral Reef Awareness

By Claudia Martinez of FIU at Bakerhouse Art Complex October, 28 October 2020

Being part of an art project for the first time, I realized that you do not have to be a self-professed artist to take part in creativity or the arts. This art project, like many art pieces, has a more profound purpose and this one’s very purpose was aimed to bring awareness about the disappearing coral reefs which are vital to many communities of ocean life, and thus, making the reefs vital for sustainable life under water. Now I may not know about you but I was among those people who did not know that coral reefs were disappearing. As part of this art project, I was not only exposed to the beautiful shapes and figures that ocean life holds but also to the fact that they are in danger. I am so grateful that I was part of this art project and not conformed with this, I am much more grateful that this art project contributes to a greater cause of bringing awareness to the dangers that coral reefs face. Personally, I consider the world around us an important issue and I am sure that if we keep pushing we will see the results and benefits of saving the ocean’s coral reefs and their contribution to ocean life.

Rubell As Text

Claudia Martinez pictured at Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room”. Photo by C. Martinez/ CC by 4.0

Contemporary Art Boldness And The Thought-Provoking Conversation It Entails

By Claudia Martinez of FIU at Rubell Museum, 18 November 2020.

Have you ever considered going after a crazy passion even though it might be a costly one. That is exactly what the Rubell family decided they would do when they purchased their first artwork at a great cost that back then signified a high price to them. You see, the Rubell family decided to collect art pieces out of passion and not out of the intention of profiting from them. When I heard that our class was going to be taken at Rubell Museum I did not know much about contemporary art and how it would provoke conversations on topics I usually try to avoid or feel uncomfortable talking about. Upon entering the art exhibition I saw a painting of a man who lay asleep and to put it lightly it was not an image that portrays the status quo of how African Americans are usually painted as. The painter behind this art piece was the same painter who drew a portrait of former president Barack Obama. This painter added a renaissance realism effect to his portrait with a vibrant flower filled background which stands out from other paintings and challenges one’s view on African American art. Another art piece worth noting is “Two Cells with Circulating Conduit” by Peter Halley. Some people may think to themselves, “I could have done that myself”, but the truth is that they didn’t. This symmetrical piece challenges one to reconsider their life by symbolizing the small spaces that one is surrounded themselves in. One box may represent a personal room, an even larger box may the living room and so forth representing that the spaces that people interact with are small and limit the way we see and interact with the world. To say the least, I was far from my comfort zone as we explored interesting topics that challenged me but also taught me a different side of art and the topics they address.

Everglades As Text

First Picture: “Claudia Martinez Slough Slogging at the Everglades”, by Komila Kholmatova/ CC by 4.0. Second picture: Everglades by Claudia Martinez/ CC by 4.0.

Reinventing The Way We See Miami

By Claudia Martinez of FIU at the Everglades 20 January, 2021.

It was my first time in this part of the Everglades and as I went 13 miles into the state park along with my classmates, I could not help but admire the majestic greatness of the Everglades. As I attempted to slough slog for the first time, I have to confess that I was a bit nervous and excited as I thought to myself, “expect the unexpected”. That is precisely what happened as I discovered different tree species and life in the Everglades. Halfway through the way, we listened to a poem by park ranger Dylan that called to attention the beauty that Everglades stands for. Afterwards, we stopped and remained quiet for a minute in order to fully appreciate the sight that was in front of my classmates and I. To my amazement, we heard the fierce call of a bird that sounded like a hawk, the leaves rustling in the wind, and the wind blowing in our midst. Among other things, I noticed the sunlight making its way to our class group and felt the vibration on the water with my feet. At that moment, even if we did not have strong signal, my class and I had a stronger connection with nature than I can last remember. Afterwards, we had lunch together as a group where we listened to one of the other park rangers play an interactive song and called us to sing along with him. Reflecting through out the day, I realized that it was a true privilege to be in the Everglades and witness the beauty it stands for, and I found it fascinating while at the same time coming out of my comfort zone.

Wynwood As Text

Claudia Martinez at Marguiles Warehouse by Komila Kholmatova/ CC by 4.0

Viewing The World Through Conceptual Art

By Claudia Martinez at Marguiles Warehouse 03 February 2021.

As my class and I stepped foot on Marguiles Warehouse I thought to myself, ” be prepared to explore new topics and ideas”. To my amazement, I was eager to see history and social ideas linked to every artistic piece we came across with. For as long as humans have existed, art has been a form of expression. Whether it is to communicate a famine or illustrate a religious event, humans use art as a medium of communication. However, what my class and I found was unique and beautiful. It is called conceptual art, and conceptual art challenges the system of art, what it stands for and approaches it with a new way of viewing art. What conceptual art aims to do is grab an object and use that object to symbolically stand for an idea. This idea was established at the beginning of the twentieth century and has grown since then. The orthodox system of art stands challenged and art was no longer limited to sculpture and canvas paintings but we are now able to discuss new ideas through a new medium of art that focuses in an out-of-the-box way of thinking. In conceptual art, the whole piece is important as a whole, no one fragment is more important than the other which stays true to its values as an art piece.

Bill Baggs As Text

Victoria Jackson, Brittney Sanchez, Esmeralda Y., Aimee Z., Claudia M., Kathalina Z., and Roger Masson pictured at Bill Baggs State Park by Nicole Patrick. CC by 4.0

Cape Florida Light: A True Perseverance Story

by Claudia Martinez of FIU at Bill Baggs State Park, 21 February 2021

Class starts at Key Biscayne this time and I find myself rushing to arrive there as it is my first time. After catching up, I am able to witness the tall lighthouse standing tall, strong and white almost as if history did not try to successively knock it down. However, behind this structure is a true perseverance story. As the white Europeans explored the land and claimed it for Spain and tried to remove the Tequesta’s from the land that they had been living in for hundreds of years. However, in 1836 during the Seminole war, the Seminoles retaliated against European constraints by attacking them and in the attempts they attacked the lighthouse. On that same year, the lighthouse encountered a strong hurricane that led to its weakening and contributed to it being extinguished until the next lighthouse was to be made in its place. Ten years passed but it was not forgotten, far from it. In 1846, the second light house was planned to be reconstructed again using new bricks as well as the old bricks from the first lighthouse as well, preserving the essence of the first lighthouse and was eventually finished in 1847. Through out its time the lighthouse encountered historic events between the Tequestas, Seminoles and the white Europeans and inclusively a civil war. Today, the lighthouse stands strong and beautiful but at the same time reminds us that it had to withstand natural disasters and wars through out its time.

River Of The Grass As Text

John Bailly, Brittney Sanchez and Claudia Martinez at Everglades National park by Kathalina Zuniga. CC by 4.0

Exploring The Everglades

By Claudia Martinez of FIU at Everglades National Park o3 March 2021.

It’s Wednesday and its special today because this time we are making our second trip into the Everglades. As always, I mentally pray that we are all safe during our excursion. I am in the middle of midterms and a busy week of work has swept me by. I am longing for this trip to connect with nature and get a feel of what it is like to get away from the hustle and bustle for the day. As we gathered around the flatness of the Everglades we stood by a solution hole that stood amid a relatively dry portion of the land. I later realized that we were able to walk and speak around the solution hole because the plants around it were not quite grown as it would have been in a year from this date. Another important thing to note was the action of setting up fires was key to maintaining a mixed ecosystem and taking away the dominance of certain plants over the land. We eventually made our way to an abandoned house in the middle of the Everglades. Yes really, an abandoned house in the Everglades. I can only imagine living there being one with nature but also extremely isolated from the world and people at the same time. It was definitely a different type of lifestyle for the person who lived here and not something I would try but learning about it makes me see how capable humans are of living in nature. After a day at the Everglades, I felt sore and exhausted and although I had to cram this into my hectic schedule, I know that it was not only worth the class grade but every second of it was worth it for me on this day.

Frost As Text

Art piece on rose petals by Roberto Obregon taken by Claudia Martinez. CC by 4.0

Conceptual Art Through The Lens of Frost Art Museum.

By Claudia Martinez of FIU at Frost Museum of FIU 17 March 2021.

Art can touch all subjects, you can amplify reflections through art such as human relationships, scientific classification, politics, sexual orientation and the list goes on. Roberto Obregon, an artist who focuses his art on roses and its petals, aimed to expressing these very ideas. When he made his artwork he would number the petals of the rose, almost as if he were numbering the petals as he plucked them out of the rose. Clearly, this artist spent much time with roses and it is not hard to see why. People associate roses with romance, charm and so on. Even though this idea is pleasant to think about, Obregon indulged in the Dada movement where he rejected modern capitalist aesthetics and express irrationality and nonsense in one’s work. In regard of petals of the rose being numbered is something to which he would refer to as dissecting the rose and seeing the beauty of the rose but also acknowledging that a rose has thorns and just like it has beauty it can also bring about pain. I enjoyed seeing art relating to the Dada movement and I thought it was interesting and its simplicity. However, these type of art pieces are the ones that leave a conundrum in my head. I found myself wondering what was behind his strong passion behind roses. At the end of the day, the world may never know but at least I was able to witness it on my excursion to Frost Art Museum.

Coral Gables As Text

The Biltmore Hotel by CC Martinez. CC by 4.0

The Artistic Side Behind Coral Gables

By Claudia Martinez of FIU at Coral Gables 31 March 2021.

Today’s class partially took place in Coral Gables Museum. We are looking back at this particular section of the city whose characteristic architecture influence stands out a little more in this part of Miami. The architecture style is Mediterranean revival and although this may trigger you to think about Spain or neighboring European countries, Coral Gables influence comes from Mexican- Spanish cities that were visited by its founder George Merrick. As I walked through Coral Gables Museum we reviewed the history of the jail that it used to be before becoming the present day museum. According to the museum lecturer, the jail was separated into four groups. The groups included white and colored women and white and colored man. This detail gives us insight of the intense segregation in prisons back then where even same gender inmates where separated by color. As we kept exploring the museum, we gathered the fact that Merrick was a visionary behind the creation of Coral Gables. By taking simple actions such as selling fruits and vegetables and part of his property, he started building houses and eventually met contacts with who he partnered with who he financed the Biltmore with, which was once a hospital. What stands out the most was observing how they were able to bring up this city among so much limestone which presented a huge obstacle for those who participated in the city’s construction. However, Merrick payed above average wages to the workers and it was even said that he would sometimes take time from his routine to help his workers get the job done. Not conformed with this, we were able to make it to the Biltmore where I identified myself with its Baroque detailing on the walls, ceilings and floor. As my first time in the Biltmore, I enjoyed the history rich story that its architecture style expressed.

Vizcaya As Text

The Story Behind Vizcaya

By Claudia Martinez of FIU on 14 of April of 2021

Learning about Vizcaya, and going from one room to the next, one of the things that caught my attention was the fact of how much more advanced James Deering was. He had one of the first vacuum equipment for his mansion and he had a sophisticated communication system that sent signals to his maids to come to him for service when he needed them. It was interesting to see how he was able to live in such a huge mansion and still have everything under his control. On the other hand, it was brought to my attention on how adjacent rooms changed their layout from overly charged decorations to darker simpler rooms. As someone brought up in the US, I am used to seeing a whole house follow a particular theme in every one of its rooms, but Vizcaya was breaking that rules of this protocol. Besides that, it was pretty interesting seeing hedonistic statues that were there from the mansion’s beginning when Miami had not had the hedonistic type of reputation it has today. Yet here they were, standing firm and strong almost as if saying, “ we were here first”. I quickly admired the diverse layout of Vizcaya’s design that was created by Paul Chalfin. Just as Deering aimed to bring a part of Europe to Miami, I felt a portion of Europe as I walked through its hallways and gardens. My point of view of Vizcaya stands challenged and I now see a clearer image of the mansion and what it stands for since it first opened.

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