Lauren Farina: Miami as Text 2021

Photo by Lauren Farina/ CC by 4.0

My name is Lauren Farina! I’m a Senior at Florida International University’s Honors College as of Spring 2021. I’m majoring in Biology with a minor in chemistry and a certificate in Women and Gender Studies. My goal is to become a physician assistant and specialize in women’s health and obstetrics. As a former student of Bailly’s, I always knew that I would take another class with him. His class opens your eyes to the lesser known and allows students to be expressive and creative with their thoughts and observations. While it may not seem relevant to some, I think this class is important as an aspiring healthcare provider because it subjects me as a student to a deeper understanding of myself and those that I will provide care for in my profession. I feel that a large and neglected part of healthcare preparation is learning to listen and have a deeper understanding of patients. Ensuring the ability to listen to others and their experiences is crucial to be a successful healthcare provider.

Downtown Miami as Text

Photo of Fort Dallas (also slave quarters) taken and edited by Lauren Farina/ CC by 4.0

“A Window into Miami’s Past” by Lauren Farina of FIU at Downtown Miami; January 22, 2021

Miami is typically labeled as a diverse place- inclusive of all races, languages, and sexualities. It becomes an even more special place when you learn about the beginnings of Miami. Similar to all states and cities in the United States, Miami does have its origins and modern day decisions rooted in racism, colonialism, and power, but it happens to be one of the strangest cases that can be examined in the country. Before Miami became Miami, it was an area inhabited by the Tequesta tribe and Bahamians escaping slavery. Unlike the rest of the states at the time, this area was dominated by people of color and indigenous tribes but not for slavery. The beginning of what became Miami shows a palate for diversity. 

As Europeans began their colonialist quests to the Americas, they came to Miami on multiple occasions. The interactions between the colonialists and the Tequestas was an unfortunate encounter for the indigenous tribe, which fell to disease. What started as a place where all people could co-exist peacefully, became infiltrated by policies and ideologies already thriving in the United States when Florida became a state in 1821. One of the first buildings built by the U.S. in Miami was a fort meant to be used in the Seminole Indian wars. That same building was then used as slave quarters. It is unknown how many slaves were kept here in this small space but it was unlikely to have been an adequate, humane situation. The window pictured above is a part of this building. Looking inside felt cold and wrong. It felt as if I could feel the emotions and atrocities that the people kept there endured. I felt sorrow and anger and injustice just beyond this window. This class reminded me about how history is portrayed in America, how slavery and segregation and racism is glossed over and covered up. It was unfortunate to unfold the history of Miami and how such a diverse place, even today, still covers up it’s history.

Everglades as Text

Photo at Everglades National Park taken by Annette Cruz/ CC by 4.0

“Balancing Through a Global Pandemic” by Lauren Farina of FIU at Everglades National Park; February 5, 2021

COVID-19 has changed our lives in so many ways over the last year. Some people had it, some knew people who had it, and others sat in their home for the last 12 months wondering if it will ever end. It’s been an upsetting year, to say the least. I was supposed to join my class in visiting Everglades National Park, but due to the unpredictable nature of this virus, I had to unexpectedly quarantine for two weeks after my roommates tested positive for COVID-19. I was very lucky and did not contract the virus, however, it was important for the health and safety of my friends, family, and classmates that I monitored my health and isolated myself until I was completely sure that I did not have the virus. Nonetheless, I was devastated to miss this experience. This caused me to do a lot of reflecting not only about the things that have changed for me throughout the pandemic, but for every single person. No matter your age, profession, gender, class, ethnicity – this pandemic has made a long-lasting impact on our personal lives and our communities. It is hard to imagine when the return of normalcy will arrive, but it is my hope that it is soon.

Since I could not attend the lecture in person, I dove into everything I could find about Everglades National Park online. I even was able to watch a live video of the park where I saw a little bird sleeping on top of one of the structures at the park. I also read reflections from other students in my class to get an idea of what personal experiences were like there. It was very apparent to me that the experience was just the right mixture of calm and chaos. Some students described the uneasy feeling of not knowing where to step in the water, and even falling in the water, while others spoke of the innate peace that nature provided there. Reading about my classmates’ experiences Reminded me of this very important balance that we have in life. Just like the balance of emotions that students felt that day in the park, the Everglades also has a balance and human beings are destroying it. Not only has much of the Everglades been manually destroyed for human uses, but the pollution and climate change that we have caused as a species is directly impacting this environment. It is incredibly upsetting the amount of evidence there is that we are running out of time to remedy what we’ve done, yet stubborn individuals and complacent government systems brush it off. Often times when I am able to have the experience to go somewhere special and unique in nature like the Everglades or a natural spring, I become quite sad because it is likely that much of the beauty I have gotten to experience in my two decades of life will be irreversibly damaged or nonexistent for my future children and grandchildren. I think missing this experience happened at a really interesting time for me. It really opened my eyes to the delicate balance we must uphold in our lives.

South Beach as Text

Photos at South Beach taken and edited by Lauren Farina/ CC by 4.0

“How One Woman Saved South Beach” by Lauren Farina of FIU at South Beach; February 19, 2021

South Beach is intentional about what you see when you visit and a woman is greatly responsible for that. Barbara Capitman is the reason Art Deco has survived on South Beach, and made it the international destination of so many. When strolling or rollerblading down Ocean Drive surrounded by color, it’s hard to imagine South Beach could’ve turned out any other way. However, every few buildings you’ll notice one that just… doesn’t look right. More likely than not, this is a building that was destroyed before Capitman was able to save it. She formed the Miami Design Preservation League in 1976 which focused on saving these buildings of art. The group would protest the demolition of Art Deco buildings on South Beach to the point of standing in front of the machinery being used for the demolition. In a roundabout way, FIU is also a contributor to the preservation. It was Barbara’s husband’s job offer to teach at FIU that prompted the family to come to Miami. Barring this, it’s unlikely she would’ve been involved to the extent she was in saving the art of South Beach. It is a surreal feeling to walk through South Beach and be able to identify not only the buildings that are considered art deco, but also what features make those buildings the work of art deco. As you walk past, you notice the infamous eyebrows that loom over the entrances, the rule of three that is captured throughout the architecture, the pastels, and of course- the relief sculptures. It is an overwhelming thought that all of this could’ve been another “concrete jungle”.

Deering as Text

Photos at the Deering Estate taken by Annette Cruz (bottom left) and Lauren Farina (top and bottom right), edited by Lauren Farina/ CC by 4.0

“Control” by Lauren Farina of FIU at the Deering Estate; March 5, 2021

This lecture made me think a lot about control. This may sound strange at first, but I think it will become more clear as I reflect on my experience. I have always had a very challenging relationship with control, in the way that I feel the need to be in control of myself and my situations at all times. This experience was far out of my comfort zone and pushed me to put myself in situations that I could not control. It was a day that I was anxious for, but came out of with a special appreciation for. Throughout my time taking Professor Bailly‘s lectures, I have often learned about how certain groups of people took control over others; the most prominent of which being the Tequesta tribe. At the Deering Estate, I was able to enter an area that is a preserved Tequesta burial mound. For me, it was a very surreal experience. I was standing on a bridge that was built around the area to ensure that it was not disturbed and for a few moments the entire class was silent and all you could hear was the wind blowing through the trees. It was a brief moment where we were able to reflect on the wrongdoings of foreigners that came to this land and took from those who were there first. During my time in this area, I thought a lot about how I wish there were descendants of the Tequesta tribe still alive today and what they would have been able to tell us. It is a tragedy that they were not able to control their situation and continue to populate our planet. In that moment, it gave me a special appreciation for all the things I take for granted everyday that I do have control over. I think it’s important to acknowledge people or groups of people that have been forgotten as the United States was formed and as it continues to evolve and modernize.

Vizcaya as Text

Photos at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens taken by Lauren Farina, edited by Lauren Farina/ CC by 4.0

“The Truth Is In The Details” by Lauren Farina of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens; March 19, 2021

When walking through the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, it is easy to be captured by the natural and artificial beauty that surrounds you. Statues and paintings, carpets and ceilings; the details are captivating. However, the further you look, the less everything makes sense. Upon entering the home, you are greeted by Bacchus, the Roman god of agriculture, wine, and fertility. It is an entrance that feels important and suggestive. It was indicative of what James Deering expected his guests to experience at his home in the early 1920’s. While prohibition was in place at the time, there was no shortage of alcohol when he was hosting. In a secondary room sits a replica statue of the “Dancing Faun” which is originally found in Pompeii. It is a renowned piece in Pompeii and some see it here as improper and egotistical. Much of the home can be described in this way. James thought highly of himself, and if he liked something, he wanted it to be his. Whether this was disrespectful or inappropriate to a culture or religion was none of his concern. There is a door filled with books, that aren’t actually real books, to give the appearance of education and intelligence. There is a painting of the Virgin Mary cut in half to cover organ pipes- just because he wanted it that way. At the top of the stairs, the French saying “J’ai Dit” is carved into stained glass, as his way of telling guests- he is god-like. James Deering tried very hard to impress, and for those with no knowledge of historical, cultural, artistic, or religious background, he did. But the deeper one looks into his home, the more they come to the realization that it was more about him and his wealth than appreciation for art, religion, or culture.

Marguiles as Text

“Art That Makes You Feel Something” by Lauren Farina of FIU at Marguiles Warehouse; April 16, 2021

As I entered the Marguiles Warehouse, I don’t think I was truly prepared for the way that my time there was going to make me feel. Something that really stood out to me about Mr. Marguiles was his emphasis on how art made you feel instead of how it looks. He makes a compelling point that you can only further support as you explore his warehouse. One of the most surreal installations was “Geheimnis der Farne” by artist Anselm Kiefer. I spent another hour after class in this room. There is an overwhelming presence in the room, although it is completely silent. There were few people walking around the warehouse, so I was to myself for most of the time I spent in there, but it felt like someone was walking beside me the entire time. The center of the room is taken up by two massive concrete sculptures that are representative of gas chambers from the Holocaust. They are eerie and provoke a great deal of emotion. On the surrounding walls are over 40 paintings that draw inspiration from a poet who was a Holocaust survivor that took his own life, named Paul Celan. The poems Celan wrote were deep, and of dark nature, and sometimes quite difficult to understand. The paintings in the room showed a visual interpretation of what Celan wrote. It was breathtaking in a very somber and heart-wrenching way. You could feel the pain of a survivor, the sorrow of a son, the loss of a childhood- it was extremely emotional for me. There was another installation called “Herma” by artist Magdalena Abakanowicz that also took on the subject matter of the Holocaust. Specifically, it visually addresses the majority loss of women/mothers and children. The emotions I felt were so strong that I did not re-enter that room during my visit to the Warehouse. I am incredibly appreciative of Mr. Marguiles for collecting and displaying these important works in such an accessible way. I will be going back before he closes up to re-set the warehouse, and definitely again to see the new displays he has.

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