Linabel Armas: Miami as Text

Photo by Roger Masson (CC by 4.0)

Linabel Armas is currently an honors student at Florida International University majoring in International Relations with a minor in Political Science. At FIU, Linabel is the current President-Elect for the Student Ambassador Program. In addition, aside from the university, Linabel works with a non-profit called The Children’s Trust where she is the co-facilitator for a group of high school students who are trying to make a difference in their communities. Moreover, she also works at a law firm since her future dream is to become a lawyer. Although her education is her main priority, Lina loves to travel the world, get to know new places and cultures, taste different foods, and get to know new people- many of the things that can be found in her newest FIU’s Honors course Finding Miami. Below you can find her reflections of these exciting adventures throughout the Spring semester of 2021.

Downtown Miami as text

“The story behind Miami”, by Linabel Armas of FIU in Downtown Miami on January 22nd, 2021.

Photos by John Bailly and Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

For many, Miami is seen as yet another tourist location to visit during summer vacation. However, Miami has so much history behind its colorful walls and crowded streets. Miami’s current population is very diverse, it has a high population of immigrants mainly from Latin America and the Caribbean, but Miami’s history and creation are also very culturally diverse.

While been considered one of the youngest cities in the U.S because of its foundation in 1986, Miami has a very unique history behind it. The city was founded and created by Tequestas, Spanish, African, and English roots. Back in the day, Miami was the city where no racial thoughts defined the people. In addition, Miami is the only major American city that was founded by a woman; her name was Julia Tuttle, also known as “The Mother of Miami”.

Although Miami is very culturally diverse, unfortunately, racism is still a dominant factor in the city. It all started when Henry Flagler decided to start constructing in Miami. Many have argued that their lives ended when Mr. Flagler arrived in Miami. It divided the city into categories: white-rich people lived in one area, white-poor individuals in another, and black people lived somewhere else. Although many laws have been implemented to end racism, racism can still be seen in the city. For example, we have a neighborhood where the majority of the population is Cuban: Little Havana; in addition, we also have Little Haiti for African Americans and Doral for Venezuelan people. Despite the progress, Miami still has sequels from the past which is why is necessary that the younger generation changes such things. We need to stop being oblivious to the current situation and start changing.


“Between Cypress Trees “, by Linabel Armas of FIU in the Everglades on February 5th, 2021.

Photos by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Entering the still and cold water, walking in between cypress trees, and feeling the sound of the trees; felt like been elsewhere, like a dream. Every time we were getting further and further from the road, the breeze of the trees and our steps when slogging were the only sound. My senses became amplified, I could hear the little birds singing, the mosquito fishes touching my skin, it was so peaceful.

It came a time when our park ranger read a poem, and I felt even more at peace. We had a moment of silent and heard the birds sing and the trees touch when the breeze passed. My mind and body felt so at peace and so relax; for a minute I forgot about the stress of life. Then it came a time to break apart and everyone explore their routes. I fell multiple times on the holes in the water, yet I still enjoyed it and emerged into nature like never before.

It is sad to know that over the past century or so, the Everglades have been suffering from pollution, loss of habitat, and loss of wildlife. According to our park ranger, they no longer see squirrels or raccoons, the food chain of the Everglades animals it’s been extinguished. Since the 40s developers have been draining the Everglades to the point that now 1.7 million acres have been drained which makes it approximately half of the Everglades. The main problem in regard to this matter right now is conservation. Problems and loss at the Everglades affects us as Miamians. This is yet one of the many reasons why we as U.S citizens need to vote, become aware of the problem surrounding us, and become activists in our communities.


“Artistic and Architectural Paradise”, by Linabel Armas of FIU in Miami Beach on February 19th, 2021

Photos by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Thousands of tourists visit Miami throughout the year, specially South Beach. For the past six years I have been living in Miami and visited South Beach endless times, yet I had never realized the architectural designs and overall history that it acquires.

Like I have mentioned previously Miami has a very strong history of segregation and South Beach doesn’t stay away from that. From South Beach Pier we can visualize Fisher Island. The island was purchased by the first African American millionaire, Dana Dorsey. Fisher island was the only island were African Americans were allow to stay near the beach, since in almost all South Beach, hotel owners denied the entry to black skin individuals. Eventually, Dorsey sold the island to Carl Fisher and no blacks were allow once again. Today, Fisher Island has one of the most expensive zip codes in Miami, were rarely an African American is still seen.

We started walking past the pier and started to see colorful 2-3 story buildings. Miami is one of the most visited cities in the U.S due to not only the clear-water beach but the architectural styles and designs. Walking through Collins Ave. and Ocean Dr., I was able to appreciate the three types of architectural styles that can be appreciated: Art deco, Mediterranean revival, and Miami modern. My favorite was art deco, due to the colors it uses on its buildings and the early 1900s’ vibe it gives. However, Mediterranean Survival and Miami Modern are also very beautiful and refreshing styles but not as eye catching as art deco.

Many buildings have been sold to different companies were its not stated on the contract that they have to keep the building on the outside as it is, which is why some buildings have “identify crisis” and destroy the beauty of each architectural style and design in South Beach.


“Walking through history”, by Linabel Armas of FIU in Deering Estate on March 5th , 2021

Photos by Linabel Armas and Saniya Pradhan(CC by 4.0)

I drove 30 min from home, and I thought I had driven to the wrong place. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until I came in. When I stepped in, I felt like I was teleported to one of the Spanish telenovelas I used to watch with my grandma as a kid. Deering Estate was not only beautiful and elegant but full of history and architectural designs.

Among one the things we visited that day was the Richmond Cottage. I was amazed to know that I was visiting the first hotel in Miami that once transported individuals from Miami to Key West in one day, an otherwise trip of 3 days. Like professor Bailly always says, it is “awesome” to be walking where Mr. Cutler lived, and millions of others visited in the 1900s. We then walked near the ocean, one of my favorite parts I saw where the Everglades meets the Atlantic ocean; what I thought would be something “crazy” was just so relaxing and peaceful. The breeze blew my hair and kissed my face; the shade touched my skin and didn’t let it burn. I thought I had found peace when I visited the Everglades because I did not know Deering Estate. The views from the very corner of this place were just mesmerizing.

Turning a page from the beautiful and relaxing Deering, we then visited the mangroves and Pine Rocklands. Been careful not to get touched by poison ivy; we explored these two different ecosystems. Sometimes, getting away from the typical Miami: cafecito, beaches, and tourists; teaches us that there is much more than just that.

Lastly, we had the opportunity to visit Mr. Charles Deering’s stone house. The marvelous architectural design remising Deering’s house in Spain was yet another glance to the late 1800s early 1900s that felt like I was back in time. Been able to walk and touch were centuries ago someone lived is so fascinating to me. I learned so much about the home architectural designs of that era.

Ever since I visited Deering Estate, I have wanted to go back. I feel like it is such a beautiful, cozy, and yet elegant place to be in. Overall, I keep getting astonished by how much Miami has to offer us, aside from the beautiful beaches.


“Vizcaya through time”, by Linabel Armas of FIU in Vizcaya on March 19th , 2021

Photos by John Bailly (CC by 4.0)

Sadly I was unable to attend Vizcaya due to medical complications; however, I decided to research about it since I was pretty excited to go. As a teenager, I was taught that Vizcaya was a beautiful place were quinceaneras, will go and take their fifteen pictures; however, I didn’t know how much history about Miami and it founders the place holds.

Reading through professor Bailly’s blog about Vizcaya was yet another eye-opening experience. Miami’s architecture is very culturally diverse, in this case, Vizcaya was built with Italian and French styles and traditions. In addition, it was constructed by Bohemian and “Nassau-negro” slaves. The village (currently a museum) already has so much cultures, styles, and architectural traditions inculcated in it that has transcended over the years for new generations to see and appreciate.

Vizcaya was purchased by Mr. James Deering from Mary Brickell in the early 1900s with the intention of making Vizcaya a “self-sustaining endeavor”. (Bailly 2019) The village is filled with beautiful gardening and water according to the pictures and different articles, which were created with the purpose to sustain the village. In addition, the museum is filled with art: sculptures around the gardens and inside of the property, as well as other different art pieces.

Although, I didn’t have the opportunity to visit this beautiful place, I feel like I would’ve felt in heaven due to all the gardening, architectural designs, sculptures, etc… By looking at the pictures it kind of reminds me of “Jardines de la Granja de San Idelefonso” a summer palace for a Spanish princess located in Segovia, Spain. Although this palace is bigger than Vizcaya in size, it has similar French architectural styles and gardens. Vizcaya seems like such a beautiful place worth visiting and enjoying.


“Collecting history and innovation”, by Linabel Armas of FIU in The Marguiles Collection on April 16th , 2021

I think it is fair to say that I know I thing or two about art. I grew up seeing my dad create a beautiful painting out of a blank canvas. Going to art galleries, events, and art fairs was always an essential part of my at-home education. To say that I was amazed by this art collection is an understatement.

I arrived before the class began and took a quick look at the collection. At first, I thought the art showcased was “weird” and different from anything I had seen before in any art gallery or collection. My first question was “so, what is the business in this?” to what professor Bailly told me that there isn’t any. Mr. Martin Z. Margulies collects art because he loves it and has become one of his favorite “hobbies”.

For someone who has become so well known for collecting art around the globe, Mr. Margulies is very humble and open to answer any questions. He explained what each of the main art pieces are in the warehouse are, where they come from, and who created them. In addition, he explained to our class why he started collecting art and how were the beginnings of opening the warehouse. Marguiles has been a great part of the revitalization of the modern Wynwood.

I can safely say that one of my favorite pieces was the 30 Monitors, 30 DVD players, 30 DVDs by Peter Coffin of 2008. This piece speaks Pop Art to me and I think it attracts any young adult who likes colors and the retro style. Like I said during our lecture, it reminds me of the TV I used to have in my bedroom back in Cuba; so this artwork not only symbolized pop art to me but it reminds of home and my childhood.

Overall, I believe that Marguiles has changed my perspective of looking at any art piece. Like he said, abstract pieces are not meant to have a meaning but for each individual to interpret it differently. His powerful words and overall lecture will stick to me. Having the chance to speak and hear from such a well renown art collector and visit his art collection warehouse is definitely a one in a life time opportunity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: