Gabriela Peña: Miami as Text 2020

Miami: As texts

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Photo taken by Melissa Montero (CC by 4.0)

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

Albert Einstein

Gabriela Peña is a Junior in the Honors College at Florida International University, majoring in Psychology with a route in the field of Behavior. She is expecting to graduate in the Fall of 2021 and continue to pursue two Master’s in Health Services Administration and Speech-Language Pathology.

In her spare time, she enjoys a wide range of activities, from lounging around watching crime investigation shows to cooking healthy meals and creating Spanish tablas. Fitness is the most recent addition to her life, after losing 65+lbs in 2018, she plans on making it a lifestyle by working out and making healthier choices every day!

Below are her reflections on various touristic sites that make up what Miami is today.

Vizcaya as Text

Oh, Vizcaya!

by Gabriela Peña of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Photo by Gabriela Peña (CC by 4.0)

Porque al mirar la inmensidad de tu similitud

Porque al mirar el verde exótico de tus curvas recortadas

Porque al mirar el cristalino olor del agua que te abraza

Porque al oler el azul que me inspira

No puedo menos que abrazar el tiempo que no he visto

No puedo menos que dejar de pensar en el hoy para disfrutar

un ayer que no vivi

No puedo menos que rodearme de tu magia abrumadora

Porque se fueron mis manos y mis ojos hacia ti

Porque tan solo pasé y mire sin querer como si no estuviera

Porque ahora quede atrapada en tu historia

Porque ahora ya no puedo volver como sino hubiera visto

Es que en lo simple de tus fuentes esta lo profundo de la imaginación

Es que en lo profundo de tu tierra siento el gemir de la historia

Oh, Vizcaya!

cuanto no se de ti me lleva a ti

El misterio de tus paredes me envuelve en el dilema del saber

Oh, Vizcaya !

ahora tengo que volver

Debo resolver la atracción de tu simetría mezclada con la prosa de mi poesía

Debo descubrir si mi esencia fue parte de la tuya

Debo abrazarte con querubines en mis mejillas

Sera que permitas la revelación de tus tesoros

Sera que tendrás piedad de mi inocencia

Que no entendiendo,entienda

Que no percibiendo, dicierna

Que al fin después de todo seas simple y tierna

Que al final de la reflexion este lo infinito de lo eterno

Oh, Vizcaya !

Me rindo ante tu mirada.

(English Version)

Photo by Gabriela Peña (CC by 4.0)

Oh, Vizcaya!

Because looking at the immensity of your similarity

Because looking at the exotic green of your cropped curves

Because looking at the crystalline smell of the water that hugs you

Because smelling the blue that inspires me

I cannot help but embrace the time I have not seen

I cannot stop thinking about today but only to enjoy a yesterday that I did not live

I can’t help but surround myself with your overwhelming magic

Because my hands and my eyes went to you

Because I just passed by and looked at it unwittingly

Because now I got caught in your story

Because now I can’t come back as if I hadn’t seen

It is that in the simplicity of your fountains is the depth of the imagination

It’s that in the deepness of your earth I feel the cry of history

Oh, Vizcaya!

how much I don’t know about you takes me to you

The mystery of your walls envelops me in the dilemma of knowledge

Oh, Vizcaya!

now I have to go back

I must resolve the attraction of your symmetry mixed with the prose of my poetry

I must find out if my essence was part of yours

I must hug you with tears on my cheeks

Will you allow the revelation of your treasures

Will it be that you will have mercy on my innocence

That when not understanding,

I  understand

That  when not perceiving,

I discern

That at last, after everything, it be simple and tender

That at the end of the reflection is the infinite of the eternal

Oh, Vizcaya!

I surrender to your gaze.


Photo and Edits by Gabriela Peña (CC by 4.0)

Operacíon Pedro Pan: A Trip to Neverland

by Gabriela Peña of FIU at MOAD

Come with me where dreams are born and time is never planned.

Peter Pan

M.O.A.D aka the Museum of Art and Design, which is located inside one of Miami’s National Historic Landmark, the Freedom Tower, offers us the chance to explore the challenges and opportunities we face locally as well as globally through various exhibits “and programs that aim to foster a reimagined Miami.

During our visit to this remarkable landmark and all throughout our unconventional history lecture, I could not help but solely think about the tower itself and all the stories and emotions attached to it. The tower was one of the only representations of freedom for Cuban immigrants at the time, who desperately sent their children on a trip to the United States in hopes of an escape from an impossible government and Fidel Castro’s new regime of repression in Cuba.

One of the works of art that captivated me and directed my entire focus, was the statue right across the street from the Freedom Tower. Just a few feet away stood this amazing bronze sculpture made by Cuban-born artist, Enrique Martínez Celaya, The Tower of Snow. In Miami, The Tower of Snow symbolizes exile, duality and fragility, concepts that are too familiar for all emigrants that come through Florida to live in the United States,” but through my eyes, I see that and so much more.

When it comes to art, I am a firm believer that nothing is a coincidence nor a mistake, everything is done for a reason. Art brings about so much awareness and emotion, just like this statue sparked in me. It seemed to be strategically placed, where I clearly saw a boy struggling to make it across the street with all the emotional baggage he brings from home, strapped to his back, like if he was carrying the weight of the world and the fate of his family. He is hunched over, in crutches, fragile and quite exhausted to remind us of the not so easy journey that these 14,000 children went through and their anguish. He is just almost at the tower, just a couple feet away from reaching the promise of freedom as the Cuban flag waves freely in the air as a reminder of who he is and who he will become.

These children were sent away on a trip to the United States painted with promises of a better future away from unfair governmental conditions. They were removed from their homes, separated from their parents with promises of an escape similar to the kids in Peter Pan who were promised a trip to Neverland.


Where Land & Sea Meet Art

by Gabriela Peña of FIU at Deering Estate

The Deering Family story is one that brought many riches to the family line. They were bloodline that was originally from South Paris, Maine and managed to build what turned out to be one of the largest corporations in the United States, the International Harvester Company. The harvesting business went from its small startup in 1883 in Illinois to having a reach that was ultimately global in the industry of agriculture and was run by Deering and his sons.

The Deering Brothers became known for their gilded age lifestyle of world travel and opulent homes, but also for their philanthropic support of schools and hospitals, within the Chicago area, abroad, and in Miami where they made their winter homes. Speaking of winter homes, today, the Charles Deering Estate and James’ Villa Vizcaya are the last standing family legacies of the Deering Family in South Florida.

For now my interests lies particularly with the Charles Deering Estate, one that was built with a mission to preserve and protect the natural, archeological, architectural and historic legacy of the Estate according to JWBailly’s Deering Estate Walking Tour.

The Deering Estate is one that seems magical upon entry. The aura of mystery and wondering lingers with you as you delve deeper within the property. It is a land that is surrounded by nature in all forms. Plants, animals and organic relics both on land and sea. It is the perfect place to explore, enjoy sunsets, learn history and more. One of my favorite parts is its contribution to the Art community. Within the Deering Estate there are Artist-in-Residence Studios that belong to local, traveling, out-of-state, and even international artists. This Artist in Residence Program are part of the reason why “the arts are a constant and vibrant presence at the Deering Estate.”

The Program allows artist of all types to expand beyond themselves and create new learning experiences. It offers them the opportunity to pursue innovative projects and studio work, connect with other artists, and engage the public, while interacting with the historic, architectural, intellectual, archeological, and natural elements of the Estate’s inspiring environment.  


I live where you Vacation : SoBe

by Gabriela Peña of FIU at South Beach

South Beach, which also goes by the nickname SoBe, is one of the world’s top touristic hot spot destinations. It gets its fame from its beautiful beaches, night-life, and its unique architecture.

SoBe is home to the largest collection of Art Deco buildings in world. These significant structures play an important role for the neighborhood as it is a main factor of what attracts more than 20 million tourists each year.

This Art Deco playground is also where spring breakers like to spend their vacation time. They come to soak up the sun, lay in the sand, bathe in the waters, and unfortunately leave behind piles and piles of trash.

In an article published on the NBC 6 South Florida webpage, John Ripple, head of sanitation on Miami Beach, voices his concerns about how out of the two million pounds of garbage — a staggering statistic in itself — about 950,000 of that is litter that’s thrown on the sand. That equates to about 37%, which in other words is one out of three people not caring about the consequences of their littering. This act of ignorance peaks during spring break season and not only causes more unnecessary work for the beach’s clean-up crew but has a devastating impact on the residents and the wildlife nearby.

Today, more than ever the residents of Miami’s beaches dread this time year. They are voicing their concerns, taking a stand, and reaching out to the city’s council and law enforcement in order to have their tax dollars properly enforce littering laws.

Therefore, I plea to all beach-goers, tourists, and spring breakers that you take care of our home as it is not your trash can. Most importantly, be mindful as I live where you vacation, so please take care of it.


Photo by Crystal Diaz

Traveling Through Time: History Miami

by Gabriela Peña of FIU at History Miami

It is one thing to go around living in Miami so ignorantly, but its another to walk around and appreciate the great city we live in a little more after getting the chance to learn its extensive and complicated history.

Thanks to the HistoryMiami Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, us Miamians, as well as the plethora of tourists that pass by, can enjoy and educate ourselves on the journey Miami went through to become the prosperous city it is today.

The HistoryMiami Museum does not shy away from the truth in its chronicle of Miami.  Its exhibits disclose the city’s dark history while also highlighting its bright moments. If one seeks to learn what Miami is, this is the place to find out.

The Museum is located right in the heart of Downtown Miami, three blocks from Miami’s epicenter, Flagler street and Miami Avenue, on the plaza level of the Miami-Dade Cultural Center and accessible to just about everyone.

You can even take a virtual tour right here !

However, speaking from experience, there is nothing like going and visiting the museum yourself. At the museum you will immediately feel transported, like if you were traveling back in time through Miami’s most historical moments. Thanks to the abundance of hands on activities and the interactive tours, it makes your visit so much more than your ordinary history lesson.

As you go through the tour and reach The Creek Migration section you might be ask to huddle under the large Chickee hut and sit in a tradition Indian-style pose as you learn about the heartbreaking story of how the Creek tribes were forced to leave their sacred lands and migrate south escaping genocide at the hands of the United States. One of the descendants of the Creeks being our own local tribe, the Seminoles.

The adjacent exhibit, titled Pioneer Life, is one of the most interactive exhibits in the whole museum. This section portrays the inception of Miami in a different light than what is often accepted as reality by Hollywood and many historians. Here is where visitors can really get a feel of the struggles that many of the first civilian in Miami went through. The display gives you the opportunity to step into the shoes of these settlers by using replicas of their tools. You can play around and act out scenes by sweeping, washing clothes and even pretending to cook with these ancient methods of living that give you a new perspective and appreciation for the city’s technological advancements.

Now, before I spoil way too much, I hope to have sparked enough curiosity within you to pay a visit to the HistoryMiami Museum. It is an experience that not only will enrich your knowledge but follow you through every corner of Miami.

Author: miamiastext

Admin Account for Miami in Miami

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