Abigael Derlise: Miami as Text 2019-2020

My name is Abigael Derlise and I’m a junior at Florida International University. I’m majoring in International Business and hope to pursue a career in corporate banking. I took this class because I want step out of my comfort zone and expose myself to something different. Through this course, I hope to learn more and really understand the world of art.

“Your Story” by Abigael Derlise of FIU at Norton Museum

I lived in palm beach county for eight years, and never did I had the chance to visit the Norton Museum of Art. On September 22, 2019, I had the opportunity to explore the Norton Museum of Art with my classmates. The museum is full of amazing paintings from all over the world. Although Norton Museum of Art has a lot of extensive collection, there was just that one piece that felt connected to the most. I felt like the painting was drawing me closer and closer. The painting is disturbing, but the most hauntingly beautiful art I have ever seen. I chose to analyze “Your Story, My Curse” one of Wangechi Mutu’s work because it very convoluted. She made this beautiful piece out of paper, paint, glider, and beads.  

Wangechi Mutu: Your Story, My Curse

What has most drawn me to the painting is the third figure’s head shape and components. It is very complex and can be interpreted differently based on the viewer.  I think the figure is a demon which appears in a human and animal shape. The half-human animal’s head is in the form of a skull and a black man holding a woman legs open. The half-beast lady, which I think is a demon, is a combination of characteristics that society criticizes women. In my opinion, the demon is detaching from the two women with all their baggage. Perhaps what Wangachi Matu is trying to project to the audience is that, what one believes pleasure, identity, and culture to be might be an illusion.

“Forgotten” by Abigael Derlise of FIU at Deering Estate

The Deering Estate used to be the home of Charles Estate. Years, after he died the Estate, was purchased by the State of Florida and now turned into an environmental preserve. That is all I knew of the Deering Estate until my visit.

My experience at the Deering Estate was mind-blowing. Learning about the real history of Miami opened my eyes of how us, human, can wipe out an entire tribe and their history from the earth.  How we can be so selfish and wicked It gave me a different perspective on humanity and Miami.

One of the hikes was to the Tequesta burial mount. That day was the first time in my life that I had ever heard of the Tequesta. The Tequesta tribe, a tribe that is part of Miami history, is completely gone with nothing left behind. At that moment, I started thinking of my “history.” It made me question the story of my ancestors, my past, my life. I cannot even imagine being forgotten, just the thought of it is excruciating. We want to live our footmark behind, even if it means destroying others in the process. We want to believe that we are different. How different are we really when we return to dust? Some find peace under an oak tree   

The Tequesta Burial Mound

Looking at one of the oldest and largest Oak trees in Miami was sentimental. I am at peace now, knowing that the Tequesta story is not all forgotten. A little part them still remain under that 500 hundred years old Oaktree.

“Wynwood as Text” by Abigael Derlise of FIU at The Margulies Collection

Not many people know of the artistic side of Miami. Whenever people hear vacations in Miami, they usually associated with the beautiful beaches and the exciting night clubs. Before I took Art Society Conflict, I was part of that group, and I viewed art differently. I never used to take the time to understand and interpret what the artist is projecting fully. After visiting The Margulies Collection, my perception has changed. Mr. Margulies gave us a tour of his collection and shared his story of why he started collecting. I was surprised when he told us that he didn’t know to paint anything. I thought someone had to be an artist in order to collect and open a gallery.

My favorite exhibition was Kishio Suga. Kisha Suga is a Japanese artist, and he is part of a movement called Mono-ha, which means “school of thing.” The idea behind the move is to take natural and industrial materials such as concrete, wood, and arrange them to make a piece.   He wanted to show the reality of things/material and the situation that keep them together. Anything can be created from his work. After Mr. Margulies explained what Suga’s work means and the story behind it, I was in awe.

We also visited The De la Cruz Collection and we fortunate that Mrs. De La Cruz was there to share her inspiring story with us. It was definitely an unforgettable experience.

“Secret garden” by Abigael Derlise of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya is one of the best culture experience Miami has to offer. Taking a trip to Vizcaya, it is like taking a trip to old Europe except in modern Miami. The museum was built by a retired millionaire, James Deering, back in 1912.  Although Vizcaya is one of America’s most endangered historic places, not everyone in Miami knows the real story of how the museum was built.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya has been one of my favorites museums and gardens to visit in Miami, and in the last six months, I have been at least three times. I never knew that there was a secret room in the garden facing the ocean until Professor Bailly mentions it. It made me realized that one can visit a place a million times and still missed out on details if one does not know the real story of the place.

When we walked trough the secret garden, I was draw by the architecture. I love how James wanted to control nature and hired an architect to design it. What I love the most about the secret garden is the story behind it. In the 1900s people in different social class were not allowed to communicate. In Europe, there was a place where social differences did not matter and was in a garden. James brought Europe in Miami; it had a secret garden in villa with benches for couples to sit on while they are loving on each other in the free zone. Vizcaya is the perfect place for an ancient history romance.

Design District as Text” by Abigael Derlise of FIU at the Institute of Contemporary Art

The infinity room. A room where nothing else matters. In the infinity room, only the lights matter.

Visiting the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) was the highlight of this semester. It made me realize how little I know of the art world. Yayoi Kusama is a famous Japanese artist, and people flight across the globe to see her work only to spend one minute in the infinity room. I had no idea of her existence nor her work. I found Kusama to be an extraordinary artist, to take material that we overlook in our daily lives and create something so magical, so complex yet so simple is incredible. Standing inside of the cube felt like I was on another planet, and for one minute, I forgot about every single issue I have in my life. I was free, nothing else mattered. Her work “, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins,” made feel so small, yet so powerful. Kusama removed herself from society by checking in a mental institution. I believe that her state of mind inspires her art, and she is allowing others to experience her freedom but only for a moment. She finds peace in her work, and that is the only way she can express herself. 

After visiting the “Infinity Room,” we explored ICA, and we saw some vast collection of contemporary art. Sterling Ruby is a contemporary artist, and his works are conceptual by nature, which means the concept is more important than the physical work. Sterling creates art with no meaning and lets the audience interpret it; however they desire. His work also makes induvial question social constraint. How we interpret art reflects our belief, we want it to represent something, to represent ourselves.

“Art as Text” by Abigael Derlise of FIU at Art Basel Fair

Art as Text “Basel”

Every year people come from all over the world to participate in the fair. It all started in Basel, Switzerland 1970 by a trio of Swiss gallerists. They wanted to represent their artists and bring collectors and curators from all over the globe. What they envisioned turned out to be the beginning of an international fair.

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Our class at Untitled Art Fair, photo by Abigael

In December 2002, Miami was selected as an ideal second destination for Art Basel. Every year during the fair, people from all over the globe, artists, gallerists, art collectors gather during the week of the fair to purchase, collect the world’s best contemporary arts. Some people, like myself, go to admire the artworks.

From both Untitled Art and Art Context fair, we saw contemporary art from Ghana to Israel, and we were able to understand the artists’ works. At that moment, I realized that art is influential, and one can communicate with others fully with language barriers.

Untitled Art primarily first-hand market, galleries sells only the artist works. On the other hand, Art Context had both first-hand and second-hand markets. One exhibition I found myself drawn to the most at Art Context was the “Freedom Project” Mira Maylor.

“Freedom Project” Mira Maylor, photo by Abigael

She’s an artist from Israel, and we had the chance to hear the meaning behind her project. A fragile cage that society locks itself in from freedom. We get so comfortable in our prison (life) that we are not aware of our prison.  Even though our freedom is one natural break away because we are so frightened of the unknown, it keeps us locked in the cage. Mira project made me rethink the meaning of freedom in our society.



“Blackness as Art” by Abigael Derlise at Bakehouse Art Complex

When I walked in Bakehouse, I felt like I belong there. The place was pleasant, and the people were welcoming. Bakehouse Art Complex, founded in 1985 by artists, is a non-profit art serving organization in Miami. Its mission is to provide affordable live and studio residences for artists in Miami’s urban core.  Bakehouse has roughly 100 residents; it also has tables for students to study during the days that they are open. We visited a few studios; each artist gave us a tour of their studio.

Rhea Leonard is a second-year resident at the Bakehouse Art Complex. Her practice consists of drawing, sculpture, and printmaking. She focuses on the black body and mind, how being black in white supremacist society affects black psychology.

“Outcry” Rhea Leonard Photo by Abigael

This piece shows a black man growing out of a tree but somehow still cannot detach himself from the tree. He managed to overcome his obstacles, but the damages have been done, now they can never leave him. My interpretation of this piece is no matter how hard we try to be better and surpass the standard white supremacist project on our life (people of color) we can never be free because the scars are too dip.  Even after we choose to take our path, to leave out past behind us, if the negative thoughts, expectations, and traumas are not dealt with properly, we will never be able to detach ourselves from our past. This piece can be interpreted differently, and it can also inspire the audience to challenge their mind.


“Self As Art” by Abigael Derlise at Rubell Museum

After having a private collection for 26 years, Don and Mera have now opened a private museum to showcase their private collections. They also change the name from “The Rubell Family Collection” to “The Rubell Museum. The Rubell Museum is the first private modern art in America. In 2002, it was the first private collection to get a contract with Art Basel in Miami.

The Rubell family has over 7,200 pieces in its art collection. The Rubell Museum has collected over 7,200 pieces over 50 years, and now they are displayed in the museum. They collect art that reflects socials issues and communicate to the audience. Tschabalala Self is one of the artists at The Rubell Museum. Her arts question the ideas about the black female body. In her practice, the ideas that society has on the black female body are both accepted and rejected.

In this piece, I think she is trying to tell a story of voyeurism. One can look at the woman and assumed that she does not appreciate her curves, or she is using her “big ass,” as they say, to seduce men. Is that really what the black female body represent? I think society makes it so much harder for black women to feel confident in their bodies. Tschabalala made me analyze her work on a deeper level. Her arts have the power to make anyone question their perceptions.




“Printmaking as Text” by Abigael Derlise at MDC

Professor Jennifer showing her process
Photo credit: Abigael

The process of printmaking is complex and creative. It is one of the oldest art forms. Several thousand years ago, people used to duplicate images on stones and that is how the idea of printmaking came to life. Professor Jennifer Basile of Miami Dade College generously opened her classroom to our art class. She taught us, in great detail, the process of creating a monoprint. To begin, we were taught to mix the paint on the table. We proceeded to use the roller to paint the glass until it was covered and opaque. After the glass was painted, we were instructed to use our hands or tools like brushes and towels to create designs in the paint. Once we were satisfied with our designs, we added a wet paper over the glass and put it through a very large metal press. The press then magically spit out our works of art. Understanding the process of printmaking allows for a deeper appreciation of the work put into create prints.

I can now look at art in an artist’s eyes. I am able to notice, and critic other artists works differently. Now that we have gained the experience and the knowledge, we will never overlook the art world.


“Deering as Text” by Abigael Derlise

Photos by John Bailly CC by 4.0

The Deering Estate is one of Miami’s gems. When it comes to exploring Miami’s outdoors, The Deering Estate is a spot that cannot be missed. The Deering Estate was the home of Charles Deering- a Chicago preservationist, environmentalist, an art collector. The Deering Estate is both a museum and an ecological preserve. At the Deering Estate, one can explore nature to its fullest, from learning about different plants, site seeing, visit the Tequesta burial mount, learn about solution holes, birds watching, canoeing and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

My first time going to the Deering Estate, I visited two different trails, the Paleo-Indian archaeological Cutler Fossil site and the Tequesta burial mount. I learned that there was a tribe of Tequesta living on the land of Deering Estate. The burial mount we were standing on is one of only two Tequesta burial sites. It was my first time learning about the Tequesta and the real history of Miami.

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Photos by Abigael CC by 4.0

The Cutler Fossil site is not usually open to the public, but sometimes, the staff allows people to hike to the site. We were fortunate to hike the site with our tour guide. The Cutler Fossil is a watering hole, and we saw a residual of Pleistocene beasts. From where we were standing, we could hear the cars passing by, but the site is hidden from the road.

Through the walking tour, Professor Bailly created, I found that the Deering Estate allows free access for canoeing, kayaking, and so much more to Biscayne bay. A day at the Deering Estate can be both educational and relaxing.

“Miami as Text” by Abigael Derlise

To most people, going to South Beach means either going to enjoy the beach, shopping or partying. I was part of that category before I read the South Beach lecture that professor Bailly wrote. I moved to Miami mainly because of South Beach ambiance and culture. I now know that there is more to SoBe that partying, eating, and enjoying the beach. SoBe history is so important to know in order to appreciate the beauty in everything it has to offer.

Before Carl Fisher developed Miami Beach, it was a small town. Everyone had a place there; blacks and whites knew each other. Miami had always brought people together. To most people, South Beach was a wasteland before Fisher’s development. In reality, the real history is hidden, meaning the people who had long lived the city has been erased. The Tequesta were on the land 10,000 years ago; South Florida has archeological evidence of it. After the Tequesta inhabitation came the African Americans and Afro-Bahamians. Carl Fisher did a fantastic thing by developing South Beach. However, his innovation brought segregation to South Beach.

In the 19th century, Jew began to move in Miami, Fisher and Flagler decimated against them. Other people started to treat them the same. Landlords and business owners were placing signs on their properties to let them know that they were not welcome there. People of color did not belong there. Because South Beach has always being a place of community, it had to change over time for the better. Now it is the most “must visit” site in the state.
I cannot wait to go back to South Beach after the Quarantine to walk down Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive.

Author: miamiastext

Admin Account for Miami in Miami

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