Maria Simon: Miami as Text 2021

Photo by Maria Garcia (CC BY 4.0) of FIU

Hello! My name is Maria Simon and I am a junior at the Honors College at Florida International University. I am also a Biological Science major aspiring to be a doctor. Seeing and feeling different cultures has always being the hobby I enjoy the most, whether if it is from traveling to different countries, eating different food, and meeting unique people. I immigrated to the United States from Cuba in the year 2010 and it was one of the greatest, if not the greatest gifts my family has ever given me-the opportunity to have a prosperous future. Aside from traveling I love to play volleyball and to dance.

Downtown Miami as Text

Photos by Maria Simon (CC by 4.0) of FIU at Downtown Miami

“Miami beneath Miami” by Maria Simon of Florida International University at Downtown Miami.

The city of Miami is well known for its beaches and it’s beautiful skyline. Although,  Miami carries a long path of historical evolvement and an enrichment of culture from all parts of the world. Miami takes part in a multicultural setting where immigration has formed part of the city for many years and the years to come.

An example of how Miami has carried its immigrant roots and has sheltered the history and the culture from represented countries all around the world is Cuba. In the late 1950s Cuba had a “Revolution” where many parents and grandparents sent their children to the United States in fear of what the Revolution would bring. The act was called “Operation Peter Pan” which happened from 1960 until 1962. After those kids came to the United States the first place they would come across with is the Freedom Tower in Downtown Miami. The Freedom Tower is the one on the bottom right corner. The children along with other cuban immigrants would do their paperwork and get a medical check-up. The Freedom Tower is where they would formally become residents of the United States of America.

Through other ways and measures, Cubans would immigrate to the United States after the political crisis in Cuba, all in hopes of returning one day. When they started realizing that the situation in Cuba was not getting better they started opening their own businesses in Miami. As seen in the top light corner, there is a restaurant that was built up by them where they would specialize in “pollo frito” (fried chicken).

IIn the realization of what Miami was doing for the cuban people, Russia granted the city a piece of the Berlin Wall in representation of the cuban people that were divided of their families due the dictatorship of their country just like Russia was once.

Miami has taken into their wings many immigrants who starve for a new life and a new meaning. It shelters their traditions and their backgrounds while creating a new life in a new country where the opportunities are endless to those who seek it and to those who work for it.

Everglades as Text

 “The other side” by Maria Simon of Florida International University at the Everglades National Park.

As the morning started to take place and the sun started to rise, I arrived at the Everglades National park. I got down the car and I could not help but notice the difference of sound, smell, and air. It was the smell of nature in an area where there is no phone service. It was just me and what consisted of my surroundings: the birds chirping and the sun hitting my face. I realized that the Everglades was one of the most special locations in Miami due to how it has not been untouched by science and technology for urbanization. Modernizing natural habitats often come with those disadvantages, especially in a city like Miami. 

The Anhinga trail facilitates the walk-way through the Everglades. It allows you to see the Everglades from an observatory and appreciative point of view. All kinds of wildlife are seen through the Anhinga trail like alligators, adult anhingas, and other kinds of birds which are typically seen in that area. 

The Everglades is such a well preserved national park that it is self-sustained. It finds its ways for resources. One of these resources is the bromeliads.

Bromeliads are in cypress domes which offer a habitat to the airplants. 

The conservation of these natural habitats and environments must be preserved and taken care of. Living in a big urban city, nature is often forgotten and sometimes neglected but humans are outdoors beings that need fresh air, the sounds of birds chirping, and the smell of soil. 


“OUR STORY.” Versailles Bakery. Web. 26 Apr. 2021. Retrieved from

South Beach as Text

Photos by Maria Simon (CC by 4.0) of FIU at South Beach

“Relief Sculptures and Pastel Colors” by Maria Simon of Florida International University at South Beach.

South Beach is one of the most multicultural parts of Miami. It has history, culture, and religion designed all over its area. With its unique colors and architectural design it takes you back in time to places all around the world. These places represent a religious part of our culture and our background given the fact that in the city of Miami you can find people from all around the world either passing through or living here. Through its three main architectural designs, Miami Modern ( aka:MiMo), Art Deco, and Mediterranean Revival, South Beach makes you travel in time and transport you to many other places.

Art Deco is an architectural design that is distinguished by its constant three parts. The design of the building is made into three parts, for example three dots on one side of the building, three windows throughout it, and the bars that cross vertically through the building. Art Deco is seen throughout the many structures that South Beach has. This architectural design reached its peak from the 1920’s through the 1930’s. 

Along with ArtDeco goes Miami Modern which is known as MiMo. MiMo is also seen in a grand variety of structures in South Beach. It developed after World War II and it created an environment or all those who would come in and feel identified with the architecture. They were also made by young designs which gave it a modern touch to the buildings and its surroundings. 

Mediterranean Revival is the third architectural design that portrays a Spanish style of living. It is particularly identified for its iron balconies, designs on a form of arches portraying a way through the building. This design was implemented in the 1920s as well as Art Deco. Mediterrenean Revival gives an atmosphere of a Spain-like neighborhood, especially with Espanola Way in one street. 

South Beach carries a history on its shoulders. Many movies have been filmed there and a special one was Scarface. Scarface is a movie that was filmed in 1983 which tells the story of one of the many people that came from Cuba during one of the most famous exodus known in history and the many ways that their life changed while coming to the United States. 

Deering Estate as Text

Photos and edit by Maria Simon (CC by 4.0) of FIU at Deering Estate

“Old traveled territory” by Maria Simon of Florida International University at Deering Estate.

While the city of Miami is seen as a very developed and up to date city, there’s plenty of proof that people lived here more than 10,000 years ago. The city of Miami is a very well explored city where you can find all types of artifacts pertaining to those who lived in it 100 years ago as well as 10,000 years ago. This found proof were rocks and tools that were used as construction mechanisms and daily activities such as cooking. Furthermore, because of those artifacts it can be analyzed that there were early inhabitants of the northern continent in Miami, specifically in the area of the Deering Estate. 

The Deering Estate was built by Charles Deering in the 1920s and it holds around 444 acres of land which he lived on. This part of the estate is called the Stone House which is seen in the picture above on the left. 

Through Deering Estate, one can get to Vizcaya, although, initially to get there one would have to go by car through the cutler ridge because the cutler ridge is an elevated area but it is 45 minutes away from the Vizcaya. 

The Deering estate went through many time changing decades such as the Prohibition in the United States where alcohol was not allowed. Although, Charles Deering is believed to be the exception. At the bottom of the Estate there is a wine cellar that was built during the Prohibition Era. A bottle of wine from the wine cellar can be seen on the top right of the picture. 

The inside of the Deering Estate offers a grand variety of culture and religion from past decades. For example, in one of the bedrooms there is a stained glass mosaic with The Madonna with the Child which is the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus. This can be seen in the picture on the bottom right on top.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens as Text

Photos and Edit by Maria Simon of FIU (CC by 4.0) at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

The Rise of Mediterranean Revival in Miami” by Maria Simon of Florida International University at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

The famous Vizcaya Museum & Gardens was built between 1914 and 1922. Its original owner, James Deering, designed the estate in such a way that it would accentuate its tone of freedom, pleasure, and eccentricity. The name Vizcaya comes from the feminized version of Sebastian Vizcaino, a Spanish explorer from the 15th century who James Deering was captivated by. Before the entrance, there is an arc which is inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France. The history behind it is that James Deering saw Arc de Triomphe as an inspiration even though it means the victories of Napoleon’s army. The image of the arc is above on the very top.

At the very beginning of the entrance it is seen the god of wine and pleasure standing up with a bowl of grapes in his hand. In front of the god there is a 2,000 year old bath. Right at the very beginning of the inside of the estate you get the sense that you are entering a state of sin due to the liberty that the god transfers you. Such a picture of the god is seen above on the middle image on the left side. James Deering’s unconventional way of god complex is seen on a stained glass window’s top where it states in french “ J’AI DIT”, meaning “I said”. This means that what he says is the final word, it is what rules in his estate and in his mind. A picture of the stained glass can be seen above on the middle image on the right side.

James Deering’s sexuality was always in doubt given that he was never married nor did he have kids. It can be seen in two of the tapestries in the estate, which also supports this suspicious idea. On the tapestries it shows the phallic figures representing a male and flowers representing the female. This tapestry is on the bottom right corner. On the other tapestry, there is a peculiar phallic figure at the center of it.  This figure is on the bottom left corner. 

The estate has various scents in  it. For example, in one room which is done in Paris you get the Neoclassical design where everything is perfectly symmetrical and balanced. If you stand on a section of the floor and look up, you get to see the same thing on the roof.  

Margulies as Text

Photos and Edit by Maria Simon of FIU (CC by 4.0) at Margulies Art Collection

“Immigration and loss of identity at its core” by Maria Simon of FIU at Margulies Collection Gallery 

As I entered the Margulies Collection gallery, I felt a singularity between the art pieces. Something I have never seen before. The art works felt familiar even though I have never been to the gallery before. The first art piece I saw (picture on the left) was Hurma by Magdalena Abakanowicz in 1994–98 which tells the story of the Holocaust. When jeweish women, children, and men would do labor at the concentration camps in Germany after some time they became a form of a robot, where the only thing they did was work. Children had no future and men and women could not see their kids have a future either. The art piece represents the loss of identity that they felt during that time, after being stripped of their liberty and human rights, they felt as though they had no humanity, they were just a shell to do work and follow the rules. This art piece not only represents the emptiness that the Nazis brought upon many jews but also the loss of identity that many immigrants face after their home country took away their rights to study, to prosper, and basically become the owners of their lives. 

The second art piece that brought upon my attention (picture on the top right) was the Asia Pacific Ant-Farm done in 1995 by Yukinori Yanagi. Little background story of this art work: It was made with ants that were put inside each of the boxes that contained the flag of the country. These ants did not follow the rule and walked through the conduit that connected every flag with one another. This art piece represents immigration and how there’s no real barrier between countries as they connect with each other by the people. 

The connection that people have with one another is not dependent on space nor physical aspects. It is dependent on the goals of each other, of the mentality, and way of being. We are all connected no matter our skin color, our race, nor background. The art piece National Anthem, by Kota Ezawa in 2018 represents that. While the National Anthem goes on, all the players and viewers are united into one representing a commonality between them: the game (picture on the down left). 

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