Ameenah Aljabry: Miami as Text 2020-2021

Photo taken by Emily Morgan. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

Hi, I’m Ameenah Aljabry! I’m a student at FIU and am majoring in English and minoring in philosophy. I love spreading happiness and love. If I can put a smile on someone’s face, that will make my day. I specifically have a love for animals. I have loved animals since the age of 5 and continue to widen my horizons in the field of animal science. I currently love my job and get to groom dogs every day but am hoping that in my near future I can and will become a veterinarian and have my own practice. I love the arts as well and as a hobby, I sing. So, if you are ever in a car with me while the radio is blasting, I am sorry in advance. I also dabble in drawing and photography. In my eyes, every day is a new opportunity for me to create something special whether it be a connection with another amazing person, a piece of artwork, or an amazing educational discovery. And I truly believe that this class will allow me to continue living my motto to the fullest.

Deering as Text

“Peaceful Waters,” by Ameenah Aljabry of FIU at Deering Estate on September 9th, 2020.

Photos taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

As I look back at my first experience at Deering Estate I honestly can say that my emotions have a conflicting nature to them. First, let me start off by saying that the natural aspects of this estate make you feel one with the earth. It is as if you are entangled within this preserves branches, vines, and trees when walking around. As I peered over the Chinese bridge I looked below to a flowing river of freshwater and all I could think was that I wanted to jump in and how refreshing that would be and that I also found it beautiful and serene. Deering Estate has a way of intriguing its guests with its mystery as well as its vast openness when it comes to its landscape and architecture. As we walked down Old Cutler Road I realized that there was so much more deep within these forests that we had no clue about. Just like when looking out at the dock, you would have no clue that five individuals died while making this estate what it is today. I realized that as we stood in this estate we were coming to understand the roots of Miami and its history. The idea that individuals like Charles Deering were striving and growing their name while others were being put to work and not getting any recognition for it and were not treated correctly is not entirely fair. But, the cultural aspects of these underappreciated individuals still shine through in many of the architectural aspects and artwork seen in both The Stone House and The Richmond Cottage. For example, this amazing and intricate mosaic made by the Bahamians is a piece of art that would not be seen anywhere else. This ceiling mosaic consists of shells, coral, and much other common life found in our Miami waters. This shows how innovative these individuals truly were when they did not have regular materials like colored glass. Instead, they made something of their own.

Photo taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

This piece of artwork is ageless and tells us a story of culture and wildlife seen in Miami which can be said about many things seen in Deering Estate. Deering Estate can be a magical place where you experience the quietness and calmness of nature, but at the same time see the cultural struggle and suppression as well. And Miami’s history could not be told without revealing both of those aspects.

South Beach as Text

“The City of Colors” by Ameenah Aljabry of FIU at South Beach on September 23rd, 2020.

Photo taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

Many might think that South Beach is just a place to vacation, relax, and let your mind wander while you stare at the crystal clear water. But if you dig deeper, there’s much more that makes this destination amazing and haunting at the same time. South Beach was something that had to be altered; mangroves were torn apart for this beach to exist and to flourish to add new resorts and allow it to become something that was only a dream. As an individual born and raised in Miami, it’s always been important to me to truly understand my home land and it’s roots. And from first glance I would have never expected South Beach to be what it truly was. It all started with a vision that Carl G. Fisher had. A dream that he believed he would profit from for decades. He did not let anything stand in his way. He used Blacks to further his vision through their hard work and then secluded them after he believed that the job was done. Blacks were asked to come and even perform in South Beach but could not stay in any of the hotels due to discrimination at the time. So, they had to commute back home after their performances. These individuals were exploited for their talents and hard work to create something so grand and yet they still were only able to go to one beach: Virginia Key Beach. This fact haunts me because these individuals were investing their talents and hard work and many to this day have no clue they exist in the creation of something this big. Even though South Beach has its dark history, it also has some light to it as well. This can be seen in its intricate artwork, that at first glance some might not notice. But, if you just stop to admire for one second, you will be completely drawn in by it. The Art Deco buildings with their mixture of Mediterranean and Mimo art styles bring a unique vibe to the streets of South Beach adding a little spice that can also be seen in our current population that we call the melting pot due to its large mixture of different cultures and backgrounds.

Photos taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

Bakehouse as Text

“There is an Artist within Everyone” by Ameenah Aljabry of FIU at Bakehouse on October 7th, 2020.

Photos taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

The experience I had at Bakehouse was one like no other. My two favorite things were merged, art and science which made the experience even more spectacular than it already was. When meeting the artist composing this project and speaking to her about her vision; it was amazing to see how much passion seeped through her. You could really tell that she was doing what she loved and wanted people to use their love for art to create a bigger message. Through the medium of clay she wanted to showcase the effect we have on corals and their survival. In order to truly understand the importance of corals and their part in our environment; she sat with our group prior to us taking part in the installation and creation of the clay corals, and she informed us about the different types of corals as well as how they help us, especially in a location like Miami. Getting to actually use the molds which were created and inspired by real corals made us immerse ourselves into the art and the learning experience even more. I also loved the fact that the clay was recycled by revitalizing old clay instead of buying new clay for the project. The artist really took into consideration every component of this installation in order to effectively get the message she wanted across. Also the component of incorporating everyone and bringing everyone’s art into one piece and one message, allows the main message to come across. The message that we all take part in this environment that we live in and everyone can make a positive impact and change on our environment for the better. We all must be educated about the world that we live in politically as well as environmentally in order to better our society and environment. And if we all contribute it can result in a beautiful masterpiece.

Photos taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

“The Meaning Behind the Art” by Ameenah Aljabry of FIU at Rubell Museum on October 21st, 2020.

Photo taken by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0. Sleep by Kehinde Wiley.

When I first entered this museum, I could feel the creativity flowing through my veins. Just by looking at all those amazing pieces of artwork, it sparked something inside me that wanted to create. But when I specifically looked at the art piece by Kehinde Wiley called Sleep, I was entirely moved. In the world that we live in, especially in its currently political and social climate, the Black community isn’t brightly represented. Even with the progress we have somewhat made through the Black Lives Matter movement, there are large strides to be made when pertaining to the perception of the Black community. Throughout my life living as a half Black and half Hispanic individual, I honestly did not see much representation of my community in the art or the media. So to be able to stand in a museum and to look up at this amazing piece of artwork that showered the Black community with beauty made me feel so many mixed emotions. Happiness, due to the fact that we could finally be portrayed as something ethereal and beautiful as well as a feeling of sadness in the sense that many truly don’t see us in this light. The best part about this piece of artwork is that it sparks dialogue. Yes it’s most definitely beautiful but it also sends a deep message as well; it does two things that great pieces of artwork are meant to do.

Deering Hike as Text

“Walk with Nature” by Ameenah Aljabry of FIU at Deering Estate on November 4th, 2020.

Photo taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

When walking through this hiking trail, you can feel the pieces of ridge below you. You would never know who walked before us, the Tequestas, they knew this land like no one else. Through our hike, we were shown how the tequestas used the resources around them to survive. They were scavengers and were very resourceful. They used shells and rocks in ways many would never think to use objects like that. They used it to make holes and aid them in planting crops. They also used sharp shells to cut through tough materials. In the middle of this trail, you can find history that you wouldn’t find in any other location. Not only is this trail nature enriched with different types of ecosystems like mangroves, forests and moss it’s also enriched with an everlasting history that began with the tequestas and can never be forgotten.

When hiking the feeling of free takes over you and you begin to feel one with nature. There’s the bustling part of Miami filled with buildings, lights and art.

But then there are parts of Miami like the Deering Estate that allow you to go back to our human roots and see how people used to live and survive on the land they were given. Sometimes we all have to stop and appreciate the nature around us and realize how much it truly provides for us. And this hike did that for me. It allowed me to leave my busy life and understand the history I have always been standing on and had no idea about. Always look beneath the surface because you never know what traces were left behind.

Downtown Miami as Text

“The Framework of Miami” by Ameenah Aljabry of FIU at Downtown on November 25th, 2020.

Photo taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

When walking through Brickell and Downtown you wouldn’t suspect what history lies beneath your feet and just around the corner. The buildings speak volumes and the ground beneath you is where everything started. I learned so much about the city I grew up in, so much so that I felt like a foreigner. We visited a historical structure and haunting place that was used to hold slaves but also was used as a fort. The idea that slaves were held here in a place that seems so inhumane was mind blowing to me due to the fact that Miami advertises the beauty in its new modern buildings but not its history in its old structures that have been there for decades. It’s as if they want to erase all that happened in the past and just look towards the future and live in the beauty of the modern and futuristic Miami. But, we wouldn’t be where we are now without these slaves and workers. They carried Miami and its architecture on their backs yet are not even mentioned in our history books today.

Photo taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

Even though most of Miami’s past is buried beneath skyscrapers and stores, it was refreshing to see standing tall, a representation of Miami’s history and the life of the Tequestas. On the bridge near Brickell we witnessed a tall carving of how we imagined the Tequesta life to be like and how powerful they truly were. You can see the strength these individuals held through this piece of artwork. Through their chiseled bodies carved into the woods and how they all were bunched together to show how connected these individuals were to their heritage and roots, how they built their civilization together as one. Ending our journey at the Miami circle was the perfect ambience for truly understanding how far Miami has come. Allowing us to physically envision where everything began.

Photo taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

Canoeing as Text

“Weaving through the Mangroves” by Ameenah Aljabry of FIU at Downtown on December 2, 2020.

Photo taken by Ameenah Aljabry. Edited by Ameenah Aljabry/CC BY 4.0

I was honestly so excited for this class in particular because we would be canoeing and helping the environment by collecting trash. Upon actually canoeing I realized how relaxing canoeing really was, being in the middle of a body of water really does make you feel connected to the environment around you. I believe that in Miami it’s so easy to get caught up in the city life and we all need to escape that from time to time and this class allowed me to do just that. This class also allowed me to understand how much we affect the environment around us. When entering the mangroves, the amount of trash we found was indescribable and took me by surprise. I couldn’t wait another minute and had to begin collecting the trash found even if the rest of the class was ahead of us. It also saddened me that people could be so careless towards the environment that provides so much for us all. This experience allowed me to see the beauty of nature and how us humans need to cherish it way more than we currently do. This was an escape as well as a dive into reality. A scary reality that is. I can’t imagine a world where we would not be able to experience nature’s greatness, and at the rate we are at currently, with the amount of pollution and negative effects we have on the environment, the future generations might not be able to experience what we are experiencing today.

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