Andrea Sofia R. Matos is a senior majoring in Art History with a minor in Photography at Florida International University. Passionate for the art and culture of the Caribbean, Latin America, and the African Diaspora, she aspires to be a curator. She has had the privilege of working with various art institutions in Miami and Puerto Rico, which have challenged her visual literacy and exposed her to the contemporary art scene. As part of Art Society Conflict, Andrea desires to expand her knowledge in art and the history of Florida’s most vibrant city.
I decided to make video chronicles of FIU’s Honors College class ‘Art, Society, Conflict’ with professor and artist John W. Bailly. I thought it would be fun to document this experience as we navigate this “new normal” in-person university classes.
Note: These lectures are full of rich explanations of history and culture of the sites we explore. However, because we are outdoors regularly, hiking and walking for long periods of time, it is hard to record good audio. Hopefully the visuals will do them some type of justice.
In this first video we are met with the vibrant outdoors of the Deering Estate and it’s compelling structures. Here we were very lucky to have met Jennifer Tisthammer, it’s director, who asked us a questions on the topic of cultural preservation. Who chooses what is important to preserve and what is not important enough?
In the second video we are strolling through a very hot and a never before seen, empty Miami Beach. Unique to this location is the beautiful and elegant Art Deco architecture amidst a chaotic city. However, this piece of land was not always the vibrant cultural hotspot, originally Miami Beach was a rich ecosystem of sandbars and mangroves.
Bakehouse Art Complex
For our third class, we assisted Miami-based artist Lauren Shapiro on her current project titled “Future Pacific” at the Bakehouse Art Complex. Shapiro’s practice focuses on viewing the parallels of art and science to create an interactive exhibition that enhances the environmental literacy of the community. Through a collaboration with scientists and researchers, this project aims to preserve and protect the endangered marine ecosystem. We helped make the clay models of coral reefs and applied them to structures in the gallery.
The Rubell Museum
In this fourth episode we visited the Rubell Museum one of the most significant and diverse contemporary private art collections in the world.
Deering Estate Hike
We visited the Deering Estate for our fifth class, but this time, we went back in time when the Tequesta were still here hunting and gathering in the wilderness. Because it was the day after the United States election, this immersion into nature was one of the most therapeutic experiences I’ve had throughout the pandemic.
Everglades National Park
For our first meeting of the new semester our Art, Society and Conflict class met in the Everglades National Park to go sloughing through the cypress trees and to venture through the surrounding trails.
For this week’s Art, Society, Conflict class professor @johnwbailly once again, took us to two incredible institutions where we found ourselves surrounded by art. The Margulies Warehouses’s incredible contemporary art collection (@margulieswarehouse) and Locust Projects (@locustprojects) which featured Mette Tommerup’s (@mettetommerup) exhibition titled “Made by Dusk.”
A new adventure for both the professor and the students to venture through Bill Baggs State Park (@bill_baggs_state_park) in Key Biscayne. We were accompanied by Ranger Shane Zigler who gave us wonderful insights about the history of the park and its most incredible feature the lighthouse.
River of Grass
We went back for a seconds time to the Everglades National Park (@evergladesnps) and explored other areas of this subtropical wonderland. We focused on the impact humans have had in the history of its ecosystem.
Frost Art Museum
On March 10th our class was able to go back to campus for the first time in two semesters to visit the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum (@frostartmuseum). There we met with Dr. Amy Galpin, the chief curator of the museum along with Miriam Machado and Emily Afre from the Education Department to view “Accumulate, Classify, Preserve, Display” from Roberto Obregón’s Archives and Pepe Mars’ Tesoro exhibitions currently on view. We visited Carlos Alfonzo’s mural, which is one of the last works he ever made in his lifetime and our day ended with a really interesting and fun workshop!
We set forth to Coral Gables, a new experience for both the professor (@johnwbailly) and the students, to explore the history and foundation of the city we know today. Founded in 1925, Coral Gables is nearly 100 years old with an interesting past of careful urban planning and a deep infatuation of the Mediterranean. We were lucky to have the guidance of Liliam Dominguez, the director of Education, from the Coral Gables Museum who provided richer insights throughout our day.
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
This video is of our last @fiuhonors Art, Society & Conflict class with Professor @johnwbailly. I originally made these videos to document the experience of attending an in-person class through the COVID-19 pandemic and an unforgettable year. I am thankful to all the organizations, sites, collections, and museums that welcomed us into their spaces and believed in our ability to maintain social distancing and cooperate with their guidelines. Special thanks have to go out to Bailly, who trusted us to carry out this mission. Which, in turn, made us all closer as classmates and helped us stay a little sane during these difficult times.