Komila Kholmatova: Miami as Text

Photo taken of Komila Kholmatova in 2020. Photo by Violetta Rudenski/ CC BY 4.0

Student Bio

Hello everyone! My name is Komila Kholmatova. I was born and raised in “the pearl of Central Asia” Ferghana, Uzbekistan. The city gained the title for its beauty, picturesque view and for being completely surrounded by mountains. I came to US 2 years ago to study and chase my dreams. I am a part of Honors College at Florida International University. I am pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in International business with a focus on a certificate in Social Media and E-Marketing Analytics. In the future I hope to run my own business and create my brand. I really love traveling, getting to know new people, trying new food, painting and listening to music. My passion for travelling and discovering new places contributed to my decision to take Miami in Miami class and learn more about this beautiful and diverse city.

Deering as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in Deering Estate. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

“LIVING THROUGH HISTORY”

By Komila Kholmatova of Florida International University at Deering Estate, 2 September 2020.

Yes, maybe I am alien to this land but there is something that unites us all, and this is the very land, the rich history of our ancestors, and their lived lives that lie in this land. Arriving from a distant country of Uzbekistan, I was able to find something native on this land, which not only surprised me but pleased me – Islamic details on the architecture of the buildings. At that moment I felt some kind of warmth inside as if the place smiled and warmly greeted me. I think each of us felt this but in our own way because the land on which we stood, the land of the Deering Estate, the land of Miami, is so diverse, rich in history, rich in resources, unique nature, and most importantly warm in an atmosphere that everyone can feel and find it like a home. I felt connected and I tried to live through history as Professor J.W. Bailly told us.

We were imbued with history through ancient tools that once helped our ancestors to survive, we crossed and hiked through 5 landmarks: Endangered Pine Rock land, Mangroves, Tequesta Midden, Tropical Forest, and River. We walked on the water and were lucky enough to find the pieces of an unmarked crashed plane.

Even though we faced some difficulties during the hiking, like angry mosquitoes or hot burning weather, the Deering Estate and its mesmerizing atmosphere, and irresistible beauty did not make me regret a second but on the other hand made me definitely come back again!

South Beach as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in South Beach. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/
CC BY 4.0

“ONCE A SWAMPLAND”

By Komila Kholmatova of Florida International University at South Beach, 16 September 2020.

On March 26, 1915, one hundred and five years ago, Miami Beach was officially incorporated as a new city by 33 registered voters. Today, when one thinks of Miami, they primarily imagine the city not as a financial or cultural center but as a tourist resort of South Beach. They picture an incredible number of hotels, restaurants, and other infrastructure in Art Deco Architecture Style that now is a state-protected monument. However, it is not the only good picture that has shaped the Beach’s history. In addition to good times, there were hard times that built the character of the place.

Miami Beach has a vivid history of crime, racism, corruption and economic fall. Back in 1870, Miami Beach was a mangrove ridge and sandbar that was not inhabitable. 

One can say that John S.Collins and Karl Fisher were the founding fathers of Miami Beach. It was these businessmen from the northeastern United States who saw the potential in the small southern agricultural town to make it a world-class resort. They came to the city around the end of the 19th century to buy a coconut plantation from Henry Lum and son Charles, and start looking for fresh water. The plans were to assess the scale of work and possible profits from this adventure.

Collins was an experienced business man and began selling plots of land on a completely unsettled island. He invested his earnings in bringing sand and reclaiming the island, resulting in more land for sale. The unexpected fact for me was that much of South Florida was built on a swampland and that laborers had to clear out the mangroves and fill it with soil to create land. While one founding father was in the business of selling the island, the other, Karl Fischer, organized a major hotel building. Hotels and restaurants for wealthy people began to appear, and all this required human resources. In the period from 1923 to 1943, the southern part of Miami Beach experienced a real construction boom, the Art Deco architectural style appeared, that made the entire South Beach was built. Laborers were cheaply exploited,  and subjected to high heat and mosquitoes. It wasn’t only laborers who suffered there were Blacks who could not buy any land during this developing time and there was social discrimination against Jewish. 

In 1930, the city became the winter residence of many mobsters from New York and Chicago, including the famous Al Capone. During Prohibition, Miami Beach was the center for the production and sale of alcohol. Nice cars drove through the streets, men smoked cigars, women danced in cabarets. It was the golden age of Miami Beach that we see in black and white gangster movies. Gradually, due to the emerging importance of Miami as an emerging cargo port, it became necessary to deepen the bay. The soil, which was raised from the seabed, was used to dump artificial islands on which higher construction. This is how the Venetian Islands, Star Island, Palm and Hibiscus Islands, Fisher Island and other islands in the northern part of Miami Beach appeared. Now the houses located on these islands are among the most expensive properties in the city.

The situation began to change in the 90s, and not only in South Beach, but in Miami itself. The money made by selling drugs had to be legalized and gradually they began to be invested again in construction. For 20 years, downtown Miami has experienced a real construction boom, while Miami Beach has experienced a renovation boom.

 Now there are almost no unreconstructed hotels in Miami Beach, both in the southern part of it and in the north. It was during this time that Collins ave, Ocean Drive and Flamingo Park were rebuilt, Lummus and South Point parks, pedestrian zones on Lincoln Road and Espanola Way were built. But earlier these were ordinary streets, with small cheap eateries and second-hand clothing stores. However, a large-scale construction unfolded in the northern part of Miami Beach, in the areas of Bal Harbor and Sunny Isles. Here, in just a few years, whole streets of residential skyscrapers with magnificent ocean views have grown. Who would have thought that once a swampland would turn into one of the world’s famous and diverse tourist destinations? 

Work Cited:

Munzenrieder, K., 2015. 100 Years: The Dark And Dirty History Of Miami Beach. [online] Miami New Times. Available at: <https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/100-years-the-dark-and-dirty-history-of-miami-beach-7552169&gt; [Accessed 20 September 2020].

Downtown Miami as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in Downtown. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/CC BY 4.0

“THE HEART OF MIAMI”

By Komila Kholmatova of Florida International University at Downtown, 30 September 2020.

Downtown is a place where liveliness and color emanate from everywhere. This place is considered as the business and central part of Miami. Downtown is also called the heart of Miami, as it is home to skyscrapers, fashionable structures, shopping malls, cultural institutions, and green spaces.

Downtown’s contrast includes wealthy and posh neighborhoods, it is home to major financial institutions and trade conglomerates, as well as various small streets. Downtown is a mix of luxury and urban architecture, where the villas of the world’s most influential and famous people are considered a local landmark.

Also, one can find various sightseeing, like:

Adrienne Arsht Center, a large performing arts center that hosts daily shows, musicals and children’s plays.

The Miami-Dade County Courthouse is located at 73 West Flagler Street. The Miami-Dade Courthouse is still in use today as the central civil court. Initially, court hearings and pre-trial detention cells were held here. The cameras were located on the upper floors. It was assumed that it was impossible to escape from such a height. But a series of high-profile escapes from the Miami-Dade County Courthouse disproved that claim. The inmates escaped using a fire hose and other ingenious devices. More than 70 shoots were recorded in total.

Freedom Tower– is one of the first skyscrapers in the United States, built in 1925. The Freedom Tower in Miami is made in a unique synthetic modern style, successfully combining features of late classicism, American Art Nouveau, striking motifs of Spanish architecture – all note a visual similarity with the famous Giralda Tower in Spanish Seville. According to history, the skyscraper served as a registration and distribution center for refugees from Cuba. Here they distributed medical care, listened to horror stories that refugees told in order to obtain citizenship.

 Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum – a science museum with an observatory and planetarium.

 History Miami – Museum of history, as well as the Perez Art Museum with an incredibly huge collection of exhibits. In the art gallery, tourists have the opportunity to get acquainted with the works of the brush as well-known artists, including Mendieta, Rauschenberg, Rosenquist, Stella, and their contemporary younger colleagues. The know-how of this museum is the occasional interactive events, as well as themed music and entertainment evenings.

The history of Downtown Miami is inseparable from the past of the resort itself. Before the arrival of the Europeans at the beginning of the 16th century, and the first of them were the Spanish conquistadors, the Indian tribes of Miami lived here, later giving their name to the area, as well as the Seminoles, who moved to these regions from the northern states. The first European settlers began to settle in these parts already in the 1800s, gradually ousting the indigenous people. The wealthiest of them immediately started buying up orange plantations and investing in urban planning and the construction of a railway line. Miami began to develop rapidly, which was greatly facilitated by the miraculous climate of these places: winter and summer temperatures practically do not differ and remain at the level of 30 degrees. At the end of the 19th century, it was given city status.

Chicken Key as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in Chicken Key Island. Photo by Komila Kholmatova, Nicole Patrick/CC BY 4.0

“COMBINATION OF USEFULNESS AND PLEASANTNESS”

By Komila Kholmatova of Florida International University at Chicken Key, 14 September 2020.

From all the trips we had been to, this trip was the most memorable and unlike the others. The trip to Chicken Key Island was a combination of usefulness and pleasantness.

Usefulness, because our group, led by our Professor, made our world a little better by cleaning the ocean from marine debris. We collected 6 canoes of sea garbage, which included plastic bottles, rubber slippers, pieces of glass, cellophane bags,and  a lot more things including a large barrel that Nicole saw, and by working in a group, we pulled it out of the water and sat in the canoe. 

It’s a shame that people are so careless about nature. Unfortunately, plastic is a global problem. Billions of plastic bags and single-use bottles are used worldwide every year. The inhabitants of the Earth use almost one million plastic bottles every minute! But only less than a quarter of household plastic is recycled. Plastic overflows landfills, chokes rivers and lakes, pollutes the oceans, and harms wild animals. I was very happy and proud that we helped our world and made it a better place, and I hope everyone will take an example from us and contribute to the cleaning of marine debris, or at least be vigilant and not pollute the ecosystem.

Pleasantness, because each of us had the opportunity to merge with nature, spent hours listening to the ocean and enjoy the beauty of it, see pelicans, crabs, fish and other marine life. If someone had told me in the past that I would cross the ocean and swim to the island, I would not have believed it. But today, after going through this, swimming to the Chicken key island, I believe that nothing is impossible and that all fears are surmountable. Fortunately, I was very lucky because I was with a wonderful partner, Nicole, who is much more experienced than me, and it  gave me peace of mind. I have never had such an experience and I will remember it forever. Through this lesson, I not only enrich my worldview and learn more about Miami, but I also get out of my comfort zone and overcome my fears.

Bakehouse as Text

“ LOVE, CARE, HOPE”

By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at Bakehouse, 1 November 2020

We got lucky to be a part of the amazing project “Future Pacific”, a clay-pressing workshop, which took place at  Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood. Even though there are not so many ways to save corals and reefs, there are artists like Lauren Shapiro, who encourage our community to fight for environmental change and raise awareness of the climate stressors that influence ecosystems of coral reefs. The workshop was informative and we all had so much fun and enjoyed ourselves by making clay corals and reefs by inserting pieces of clay into silicone molds. I really liked the whole process, especially sculpting corals, as well as attaching them to the installation itself using liquid clay, which was used instead of glue. I really love art and everything connected with it.  Art inspires us and opens up new colors of the world, just like in our workshop, art encourages us to do good deeds that make the world a better place.

At the end of the workshop, some of the students including me got interviewed about the way they felt about the project. One of the questions that stood out to me was: What are three words that describe the project to you? – Love, Care, Hope.

We love our world, we care about it and hope that we will be able to save it.

Rubell as Text

“MESSAGE BEHIND EVERY PIECE”

By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at Rubell, 18   November 2020

On November 18th I was able to witness the contemporary art part of Miami, Rubell Museum. Don and Mera Rubell continue to raise the contemporary art rate in Miami by sharing the valuable collection that they have amassed over the past 50 years. Formerly known as the Rubell Family Collection Museum occupies a new space in the Allapattah neighborhood, not far from its original 25 year old home in Wynwood Art Harbor. The Museum debuted during Art Basel 2019. This seems apt as the couple played a key role in attracting Miami’s famous art fair. 

We were able to browse 40 galleries filled with 300 works by 100 artists.  The experience in each gallery was different, with a good balance of intimate and expansive galleries, featuring art from key artists, moments and movements.

The most memorable work that caught my attention was “Infinity Mirrored Room,-Let’s Survive Forever,2017” by Yayoi Kusama’s.  Due to the virus, guests were not allowed to access the room but we as a class enjoyed the minute. Thanks to our professor, we were lucky enough to immerse ourselves in Yayoi Kusama’s exciting work. Entering the room, I felt as if I had fallen into another dimension, I felt a little dizzy and speechless from the incredible beauty.  

We have also seen groundbreaking work from the likes of Keith Haring, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince and Jeff Koons.  Works as “New Hoover Convertible” Plexiglas vacuum cleaner from Koons;  “Movie Still # 21” One of Sherman’s most recognizable black and white photographs;  and the famous Prince’s Cowboy series.

If before I used to judge contemporary art as we judge the book by its cover, now I look at contemporary art from a different perspective and I have a whole new understanding and appreciation for it thanks to this class. Art gives freedom of speech and it has a deep meaning and message behind every piece.

Everglades as Text


Everglades National Park, Miami, FL. Photo of Everglades by Komila Kholmatova. Photo of Komila by Professor J.W. Bailly / CC BY 4.0.

“UNIQUE WETLAND”

By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at Everglades, 24 January 2021.

On January 20th we started our first and most waited class of Spring semester in a very significant place of southern Florida – Everglades National Park.

Everglades is 1.5 million acres large home to a myriad endangered and rare species of flora and fauna. It is a very significant place that is considered as part of UNESCO World Heritage and Wetland of International Importance.

We met together with the Professor Bailly and the park’s Ranger Ms. Dillan at the entrance of the park and drove approximately 12 miles into the park. It was suggested to all of us to wear water shoes, since we were going to slough slogging. Before that, I did not know what slough slogging means, it means walking through the water.

 As we arrived at the destination, ranger Dillan gave everyone sticks that were meant to help us to figure out the depth of the water before taking a step. Ready for the journey, we plunged into the water, which turned out to be a little colder than I expected. Full of fear and anticipation of bites of mosquitos, snakes, and crocodiles I continued my way. But with every step taken, the water grew warmer and the fear diminished.

Since it was a dry season the ranger Dillan said that due to the low level of the water and noises that we were making by walking, all the animals would be hiding in more quiet places, thus we did not see any animals in the water apart from tiny mosquito eating fishes. We learnt about various plants that were growing in the river, we reached the alligator hole, we jumped through the muddy holes, we became aware of the history of Everglades and we had a lot of fun, even though for me personally it was extreme environment that I would never have witnessed if not at this class.

The most memorable parts for me were listening to a poem in the middle of Everglades and taking a minute of silence to stay quiet, so we can hear and feel the sounds of the nature. I also enjoyed having a socially distant lunch after slogging and stopping at little farm called “Robert is here” after class for milkshakes.

Wynwood as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU in the Locust Projects. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

“IMMERSIVE INSTALLATION”

By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at Wynwood, Locust Projects, 3rd February 2021.

Having entered the doors of Locust Project I was transformed into a magical space with a unique atmosphere that was wrapped into golden leaf flakes and painted canvases. It was an immersive installation “Made by Dusk” by Mette Tommerup that evoked in me those peculiar feelings. 

If the aim of any installation is to change the focus of the viewer from the visual appearance of a piece to its conceptual idea behind, the “Made by Dusk” piece was able to do so. Our class was plunged into the different meanings of the installation. 

The large-scale installation is intended to open a fresh start to the visitors and surround them with enchanting, and unearthly space made by dusk. The artist Ms.Tomerrup was inspired by Freya, the goddess of love, beauty, gold, war and metamorphosis. She described the work as a “liberating self “, which can be seen through the different elements like video projected on the wall where she was in the process of creating the installation, through deep physical manifestation of the canvases and other objects.  The installation also has a healing potential that makes viewers to have a pause and rethink between the moment of the day and night when time seems to stop.

Before I had very limited knowledge in art but on this day both Professor J.W. Bailly and Ms. Tommerup gave us a deeper understanding on the different concepts of art and completely reinterpreted the whole art world for each of us. The installation is a must visit if you are in Miami and want to be blown away by both art and inspirational artist, because we all did! 

Bill Baggs as Text

Miami in Miami of FIU at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.o

“SURVIVAL LIGHTHOUSE”

By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, 17 February 2021.

On February 17th, our class explored Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and did a service work. The area where the park is located – Key Biscayne surrounded by Malaysian coconut palms is a part of the coastline of Florida and even though it is named as a Key, it is not a Key it is an island. Rich in history, flora and fauna the island witnessed variety of events.

One thing that caught my attention most from all during our adventure was a Cape Florida lighthouse that was built in 1825 by U.S Government. It is not just a lighthouse that is intended for lighting but it is a lighthouse with a touching history that survived the Seminoles attack in 1836, saved lives, and was of a great importance to the underground railroads. The lighthouse did survive the explosion, and was rebuilt 2 times later by government and increased in height. Today, the lighthouse is about 95 feet of length with a top and 190 steps up if you take stairs.

We also learnt that Tequestas were the first people that lived and settled those areas but we cannot call them pioneers, since it would be considered as erasing history that was before that.

We also met raccoons family and I fed them for the first time in my life with snack we brought, and we learnt that they might bite people and transfer different disease.

We finished our class with a volunteering at the sensitive site of Bill Baggs Park and enjoyed the rest of the time by swimming. It was an amazing experience thanks to the Ranger Shane Zigler  and our Professor who made it all possible.

River of Grass as Text 

Miami in Miami of FIU at the Everglades. Photo of Komila Kholmatova by J.W. Bailly/ CC BY 4.0

“MYSTERIOUS LANDSCAPE”

By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at the Everglades, 5 March 2021.

No matter how many times you have been to Everglades every time you visit it you will be flabbergasted by its captivating, uninhabited and mysterious landscape. 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas said that  “There are no other Everglades in the world”.  And as nature admirers and Miami explorers each and everyone of us in our class can assure you that it is an undeniable truth.

We did not get enough of Everglades during our previous class, so we came back to learn more about this mysterious river of grass.  If it would not be M.S. Douglas, who is known for her incredible contribution to the defense of Everglades, the American Indians who lived there  and all other advocates who understood, protected and preserved  the Everglades best, our class and the rest of the world might not have been able to see and discover those lands.

We started our class by dry hiking together with ranger Dylan. We learned how people, plants and animals impact the unique ecosystem of the Everglades. Also, I learned a new term, a trophic cascade, which describes all the interactions that control the ecosystem. An example for that would be a food chain, if a predator eats another organism, and may, in turn be eaten by something else. Everything in our ecosystem is interconnected, thus we cannot just get rid of any species. For instance, getting rid of raccoons might cause the invasion of iguanas and damage the cycle of nature by causing more eventual problems.

We also visited the Nike Missile Site and got transferred to the past. We felt the Cold War atmosphere and imagined how hard it was to our predecessors defend attacks from the Soviet Union.

Our class finished with the most beautiful sunset that one can imagine and unforgettable memories that each of us will keep in mind forever!

Frost as Text

Patricia & Phillip Frost Miami, FL. Photo by Komila Kholmatova / CC BY 4.0.

“THOUGHT PROVOKING EXHIBITION”

By Komila Kholmatova of FIU at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, 17 March 2021

Each museum has a purpose as to educate, store and exhibit various objects that have cultural, historical, artistic or scientific values. The more attention is received towards the exhibitions the more awareness is raised for particular topics. Yet, according to the previous experiences of most museums and other historical, and cultural institutions the most attention is received for controversial works that include politics, religion and sexuality or in other words nudity. Miami-Dade public schools do not let children watch such works for psychological reasons and because of an arbitrary limit of the age, which for the majority of museums is 18.

When we toured the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, we learned that such works that draw most of the attention of the individuals are not allowed to be shown to students and thus, arise difficulties in getting attention for the rest objects in most museums.

Another important highlight of the museum tour that we learned is the influence of curators. Curators are the managers of the art pieces and they have almost the same, equal, and sometimes bigger influence than an artist to impact the viewers perspectives. Even though their goal is to represent the art with respect and all the thorough details, sometimes they can misinterpret the work by taking too much liberty and forget the originality, no matter how hard they try. For example, if the artist was disorganized but his or her work might be organised and not knowing such details the representation of the work in the exhibition might cause misinterpretation. But of course, sometimes curators do not have such details because of the lack of information.

The thought provoking exhibition by Roberto Obregon indeed provoked different ideas in each of our minds. Not without reason, the work of Obregon is considered to be conceptual art, since it evokes unique perceptions for each individual. One might say that the focus was the various representations of the rose, while the other would say it was the repetition of elements, and none of them would be incorrect since the idea of conceptual art is not the physical object but the meaning behind it.

The obsession of Obregon to roses captivated me and reminded me of my childhood obsession in making herbariums of various flowers that I used to gather in the clearing near my house. We all have our own obsessions, and we might or might not want to share them and I think seeing one of Obregon’s in a museum will help people to not be scared of criticism of society by having one. 

Another meaning that I associated with rose when the curator asked us was feminism. I imagined that a rose is a beautiful, strong and independent woman. As Professor mentioned, one can be tempted by her beauty but can get hurt by her thorns; by her I thought both rose and a woman. 

Coral Gables as Text

Coral Gables, Miami, Fl. Photo by Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

“THE GABLES”

By Komila Kholmatova at FIU at Coral Gables, 31 March 2021

On March 31st our class toured the Coral Gables-one the most beautiful and rich in history cities located in the southwest of Downtown Miami. We had a chance to explore the Coral Gables Museum, along with the Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ   and the Miracle Mile.

As local residents refer to it, the Gables was one of the first planned communities in the US developed by George Merrick during Florida’s first real estate bubble in the 1920s. At our tour in the museum we learnt that Merrick had inherited vegetable, guava, grapefruit, avocado farm from his family, and in 1922 started to evolve the land into the City of Coral Gables. The architecture of the city is almost fully in Tropical Mediterranean Style or also known as Mediterranean Revival Style.

Merrick had a dream of beautiful “castles in Spain” while having dark lonely rides  to town to sell vegetables. He worked hard to make his dreams reality and one day instead of empty lands he saw a thousand houses. Even though the Great Depression and the great hurricanes in the Roaring Twenties caused severe financial difficulties to Merrick, he still was able to see the reaped benefits of his hard work.

After the museum tour, we visited the centerpiece of the Coral Gables – enormous Biltmore Hotel that was built by G. Merrick in 1926 and designed by Schultz and Weaver. The hotel was not always a hotel; it also served as a military hospital during WWII, and after the end of the war it remained to be a hospital for veterans until 1968. The Coral Gables got the building in 1983 and invested $55 million. The hotel was renovated to glory in 1987 and opened to the public.

We finished our class by visiting the Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ. The land for the church was donated by G. Merrick in the memory of his father Solomon G. Merrick. It was designed by Richard Kiehnel and considered as an ideal instance of Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style.  Today, the Church not only serves as a place of worship but also encourages youngsters to pursue musical and artistic talents.

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