Aleksandra Baryshnikova: Miami as Text 2021

Aleksandra Baryshnikova: Miami as Text

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by Komila Kholmatova /CC BY 4.0

Welcome to my page! My name is Aleksandra Baryshnikova, I’m a Junior in Hospitality management at Florida International University. I was born in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. This city has a special place in my heart. The city is full of historic places, palaces, parks, and museums. When I was a kid my family developed a personal love for traveling. Since then I want to visit as many countries as I can. Other than that, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, and my dogs. I love creating photography and arts. I hope “Miami in Miami” class is going to help me to discover Miami and new passions.

Downtown as Text

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by Annette Cruz /CC BY 4.0

“Deeper connection ”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Downtown Miami, 22 January 2021.

I have been living in Miami for three years and I never fell in love with this city. However, from all of the places in Miami, Downtown is on my top list. Even though I have been to Downtown quite a few times and I never paid much attention to buildings and structures. When students and I were walking through the “heart of Miami” ( sometimes running because professor Bailly is a speed) we were amazed by the history of this place. Downtown is full of contrast. Rich and poor everyone wants to take something from this place. 

In one day with professor Bailly I saw more, than in three years by myself in Downtown. The place that gathered my attention the most was a piece of the Berlin Wall. The Wall was built after World War Two. It represents two different views and ideologies of the USSR and the US. Their views were extremely different as well as their governments and they decided to separate Germany. The eastern communists were obviously more conservative and strict in every single way. While western democrats were more open-minded. The piece of the Wall today symbolizes victory and division at the same time. Still, we can see how Russian and the US are different. Even nowadays Russia saved its conservative views while America represents liberty. I think I liked this monument because I feel that this piece is a part of my history. My great-grandparents participated in Word War 2 , they shared their memories with my family. I remember they said that War is the worst thing that could happen in the world.

Another historical place that captured my attention was Freedom tower. While I was listening to the professor’s lecture I felt extremely sentimental for Cuban kids who had to go through immigration alone. The Freedom tower is extremely important in Miami history because it tells the story of the Cuban immigration to America during the Cold War. 

Miami represents diversity. However, we need to remember where this diversity came from and respect the importance of the history of Miami. We should never forget the real history of Miami. Indians were the first people who lived in the area of Downtown more than 15 centuries before white men came and colonialized lands. Tequestas were a Native American tribe and people shouldn’t forget that they died in those lands because of colonialization.   

Everglades as Text

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by John William Bailly /CC BY 4.0

“Hidden gems”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Everglades , 05 February 2021.

Our second journey took place at  Everglades National Park, situated at the junction of North America and the tropical Caribbean climates. Everglades Park is home to a varied flora and fauna. Who would have thought that we would have a chance to go slogging there?

As soon as we stepped into the water we entered a magical portal to wildlife. Few minutes after I looked back,  there was no road, no cars, only a labyrinth of cypress. Everglades opened their doors for us, it was kind to us. Water was clear and still, soft wind accompanied us all the way through our adventure. I felt as we were a group of explorers. Everyone knows that a good group of explorers have a ringleader. In our case, we had two leaders: Ranger Ms. Dillan and Professor Bailly. Our leaders guided us through the labyrinths of cypress and waters.  My classmates and I were brave enough to enter the alligator hole. The students submerged into the water, up until their waist; gathered around and gazed at the mysterious hole. After a while, we all agreed that there were no alligators. Hence we persisted to scramble through trees and water.  Later some people decided to “baptized” themself in Everglades waters. It was quite entertaining.  After lunch, our brave group decided to continue our adventure with Cesar Becerra. Cesar is a Miami historian and a natural-lover explorer. I was thrilled when Cesar said that he could take us to a place that was seen only by two hundred people. We trumped through the woods to look at some of the hidden Everglades finds. It was magical. I tried to capture everything that Cesar was saying. Meanwhile, the atmosphere of “Indiana Jones” mixed with the “Jurassic Park” vibes followed us through the whole day from the moment when we stepped into the water to the moment when we had to sit in our cars and leave the mysterious place. 

“Grateful and pleased”, words that would best describe my feelings. The Everglades flora made my mind and soul dived into a deep state of serenity and complete silence.  

South Beach as Text.

“Unseen faces , Unheard voices.”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Everglades , 19 February 2021.

Photo taken of Starlite hotel in 2021. Photo by Aleksandra Baryshnikova /CC BY 4.0

There is a plethora of ignorance when it comes to the history of South Beach. Some people still believe that colonist Carl Fisher found, now called South Beach, during his vacation dated in 1910. Supposedly, later on, Fisher announced that he is buying the land and rebuilding it into a “paradise”. Yet according to Samuel Hensdale Johnson, before Fisher’s railroad, Miami was like a tiny neighborhood where people knew everyone who lived there. When the railroad was done, South Beach became unrecognizable. Later, blacks were banned from there. 

Fisher, Flager, Collins these names are all around the city. Certainly, the above-mentioned people made a great contribution to the development of the city. Although, after blacks basically built the whole town and the time came to share the bounty from the flourishing Miami, Black residents were quickly banished. People blindly admire the city of Miami without realizing that not only white businessmen were involved in the history of South Florida and it needs to be said more.

After all, the history of Miami is not something to be proud of. On the other hand, the architecture of South Beach is magnificent. Ocean Drive is a truly unique place. This exclusive place combines a mix of architectures such as Art Deco, Mediterranean, and Mimo. It is impossible to choose a favorite style. Every single building has a unique detail that leaves an indescribable impression. In fact, Ocean Drive was saved by Barbara Baer Capitman. Thank to her merits and activism, we still have this gorgeous neighborhood. Without her passion, South Beach would look like a run-of-the-mill skyscraper city. 

Deering as Text.

Photo taken of “Finding Miami” group in 2021. Photo by John William Bailly /CC BY 4.0

“Diversity of Nature”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Deering Estate Miami, 6 March 2021.

“ Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”- Unknown. I was lucky enough to pick the “Miami in Miami” class this semester. I can definitely say that it was love at first sight or better to say love at the first hike. Much as I go on to have fun with Miami’s nature and architecture, there was still something about being outside and hiking through mangroves that lit me up inside. Thus, this week’s adventure was waiting for us at Deering Estate. 

Deering Estate is a unique place that has eight different ecosystems. They are pine Rocklands, mangrove forests, seagrass beds, coastal dunes, salt marshes, and tropical hardwood hammocks. Imagine you are walking and eventually entering a completely different ecosystem. It is like you transitioned in time or used a magic portal. At Deering Estate you can find rare solution holes, sinkholes, and caves. We persisted to scramble through contrasting ecosystems and caves. All of those surfaces were naturally created many years ago. More than a thousand years ago, Florida faced a phase of erosion and carbonate sediment deposition. Due to the historical movement of freshwater, it created an extremely porous limestone foundation with many caves and holes. We were lucky to immerse ourselves in one of the caves at the end of our hike. Besides, Deering Estate is doing a good job of preserving and protecting this historical land and in particular those ecosystems.  

In addition to the marvelous flora and fauna of Deering Estate, we explored Charles Deering’s estate. Located in Palmetto Bay, the Deering Estate is an enlightening treasure and historical site featured on the National Register of Historic Places. Finally, I can say that this trip to Deering Estate might be one of my favorites hikes so far. I’m looking forward to new adventures. 

Vizcaya as Text.

Photo taken of Finding Miami in Miami group in 2021. Photo by Annette Cruz /CC BY 4.0

“Typical Miami”

By Aleksandra Baryshnikova of FIU at Vizcaya MuseumMiami, 19 March 2021.

For my whole childhood- I had spent countless hours at endless museum tours- hating all of them. However, I have never hated art or history, all I’ve hated are the lifeless tour stories, long lines, and crowds. After some time, my mind fell victim to the growth of knowledge and the hate turned into fondness- I began to love attending museums. Ironic isn’t it? Luckily, I had the colossal privilege of being born in Saint Petersburg, a place full of palaces, royalty, and museums, so moving to an entirely different country has taught me to appreciate the art and culture I experienced during my upbringing. Thus, it is pretty interesting to observe how historical places like Vizcaya museum have been preserved in time in a place of modernity and hastiness.     

The history of Vizcaya started in 1914. Completely hidden by the subtropical ecosystem, Vizcaya was an unseen gem in the middle of the jungle. Built and decorated by many artists, the estate and the gardens resemble a Mediterranean paradise mansion on the shores of Biscayne Bay. Nowadays, Vizcaya serves as a museum for visitors. The owner, James Deering wanted to create an interpretation of an Italian villa. Therefore, Designers like Alexander Stirling Calder, Robert Winthrop Chanler, and Gaston Lachaise constructed this stunning Mediterranean artwork. One of my personal favorite parts of the villa is the Courtyard- originally this open in order for the ocean breeze to cross the whole house. Besides, Vizcaya is extremely famous for combining a plethora of different European styles. However, it is important to remember that Vizcaya was built in the subtropical ecosystem which is a dramatic difference compared to the European climate. A good example would be the garden’s layouts- inspired by French and Italian architecture but performed with Cuban limestones and coral trim, planted with Floridian native plants. 

Definitely, the estate has a unique charm. While walking through the villa you can feel the change in different styles of architecture. It creates a feeling like you are traveling through time. From Rococo to Renaissance and back to Islamic motive, this mix of architecture demonstrates James Deering’s taste. He did not care about rules, if he wanted a piece of art, he got it- the newer the better. As an illustration, James Deering’s estate was the first place with a telephone system in Miami-Dade County.

All things considered, Vizcaya is a perfect representation of Miami. A mix of everything in one place. The newest thing and designs (at that time). Vizcaya still remains chic and luxurious. It is a great place to visit and get involved in Miami history. 

Margulies Collection as Text.

Photo taken of Aleksandra Baryshnikova in 2021. Photo by Saniya Pradhan /CC BY 4.0

“A bigger idea”

Before attending the Margulies Collection, I had heard many stories of how Wynwood was constructed as a working-class residential district, and how later on it became one of the most famous neighborhoods in Miami. Martin Z. Margulies was one of the people who bought a warehouse at Wynwood a long time ago and changed it to one of the most famous private collections in Miami. 

Before meeting Martin Z. Margulies, I imagined that he would look extremely professional and formal. However, to my astonishment, I saw a humble man wearing a simple T-shirt with a goofy label on it. As soon as I saw him, I immediately knew I would enjoy his company. I was extremely excited about our tour at  Margulies Collection. While slowly wandering through the gallery you get the sense that your mind is being freed. I believe this is connected to the fact that the collection does not have a specific theme or meaning- which I find astounding. You allow your imagination to flow with whatever comes to your mind. We saw many examples of contemporary art. Personally, I loved it. It is interesting how for some people, Anselm Kiefer’s work wouldn’t leave any impressions, but for others, his work would touch hearts. It is amazing how art could change people’s emotions and perspectives.

The Margulies private Collection stores a diverse range of modern art worldwide, but perhaps my favorite feature is a massive artwork, “Dinner Party” by Will Ryman at the disposal. “The dinner table is a great narrative to bring different characters together and is also a timeless topic”, says Will Ryman. In addition, Mr. Martin patiently explained why and how he purchased each individual piece of the collection. Apart from his stories, he shared his opinion about contemporary art, he says that “art does not have to have a meaning, it is simply an idea.” I find this appealing to my idea of art. I see art as a charming expression of an ability to see beauty everywhere. 

Visiting Margulies Collection is a great way to challenge your imagination and perspectives regarding art. I strongly suggest you visit the private collection and dive into contemporary art.  

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