Ashley Sanchez graduated with an Associates in Arts degree from Miami Dade College in 2018. After receiving her AA degree, she transferred to Florida International University in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science degree in Rehabilitation and Recreational Therapy. She will begin applying to different graduate programs in the upcoming year to further her education in pursuit of becoming an Occupational Therapist. Ashley has a passion for adventure, sports, dancing and loves to spend quality time with others. Although she was born and raised in Miami, Florida, she is eager to become a tourist in the city she has grown to love and be able to see it from a different perspective. She is ready for all the adventures that are yet to come. This is her Miami as Text.
Downtown as Text
“Modernization or Culture Loss?”
by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at Downtown Miami, 08 September, 2021
Miami is such a unique city with an incredible history, yet, not a lot of people know much about it-not even locals who were born and raised in the city. I am one of those locals who was born and raised in this urban center that many individuals from all kinds of cultures call home. In order to get to know Miami’s roots, Downtown Miami is a great way to start since it is considered the “…history center of Miami”(“Greater Downtown Miami”).
It comes as no surprise that, since it is coined the “history center” of Miami, there are many well-preserved historic buildings and sites that are accessible to the public; some of which include the Freedom Tower, the Miami Circle, Miami Dade County Courthouse, English Plantation Quarters, and many more. These sites all represent a different part of Miami’s intriguing history and deserve to be preserved for generations to come. However, there are several sites that have been transformed, modernized, or even wiped out.
The city’s developers have been so preoccupied with the modernization of the city, that they have turned their backs on the different places and treasures that made a huge impact on making Miami what it is today. An example of this is the trolley service. The trolley played an integral part in Miami’s transit system history. The trolley era unfortunately came to an end in 1940 when “…the last Trolley Car entered its barn at Southwest Second Street and Second Avenue for the last time” (“History of the Trolley in Miami”). Although we have a modernized version of the trolley system today, it does not compare to the streetcars that once busied the streets of Miami benefitting communities, tourism, and preventing urban congestion.
Admin, P. B. (2020, September 29). History of the trolley in Miami. Miami History Blog. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://miami-history.com/history-of-the-trolley-in-miami/.
Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, June 20). Greater downtown Miami. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Downtown_Miami.
Overtown as Text
“On Wednesdays, We Wear Pink”
by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at Downtown Miami, 22 September, 2021
On a gloomy Wednesday afternoon, I had the privilege of visiting Hialeah Park along with my other classmates and Professor Bailly. It was our last stop of the day. We had been getting off and on the Miami-Dade County Metrobus all morning walking through the streets of Overtown and visiting historic churches. However, visiting the historic racetrack in Hialeah was what really stood out to me.
I had never heard of Hialeah Park before Wednesday’s class. I have always thought of Hialeah as just the place where most of my friend’s grandparents live, including mine. I would have never guessed that such a historic gem known for its wide variety of entertainment options was located in such a secluded area in the center of Hialeah, Florida. As I walked through the property, I couldn’t help but feel like I was transported back to the 1920’s, visiting the racetrack alongside my wealthy family. Sitting in the stadium seats that looked out into the racetrack where horses once competed, I felt as if I could hear crowds of people chattering and passionately yelling to show their support for the horse they had placed their bets on. Climbing the steps that led out unto the balcony with the arches seemed like I was walking into a movie set. It overlooked the beautiful gardens and the stables which were located towards the back of the property.
Although the gloomy clouds made the picturesque gardens look almost colorless, there was one color that could not be missed. The pink accents that were visible all throughout the property—on paintings, tarps, railings, and on the color of the flowers. Almost every time I would look in a different direction, the pink color would catch my attention. I figured the significance of the pink color was to represent the flamingos which were kept in the infield of the racetrack. However, I tied it into another significant part of the history of Hialeah Park.
Diane Crump was the first woman jockey to compete against men in a horse race. As anyone could imagine, this caused a lot of turmoil and many of the male competitors were opting out of the race hoping that she would no longer want to race. This, however, did not stop her from wanting to compete. It must have been incredibly hard for her to stay in the competition since many people would yell things like, “Go back to the kitchen and make dinner!” and “You’re never going to win!” They would also throw items at her which caused her to need a police escort for the race and even while she competed, the men would try to drag her back. She is a great example of a strong female that did not stoop down to the societal expectations of a woman. She fought to be heard, seen, and compete.
Vizcaya as Text
“Dona Præsentis Cape Lætus Horæ, et Linque Severa”
by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at Vizcaya, 24 October, 2021
A Roman poet once said “Dona præsentis cape lætus horæ, et linque severa” which translates to “Gladly enjoy the gifts of the present hour, and banish serious thoughts”. I believe this quote perfectly encompasses the ambiance and spirit of the Vizcaya estate on Biscayne Bay. The Vizcaya property is now owned by Miami-Dade County and used as a museum which also showcases its alluring gardens behind the estate. The estate had once belonged to a wealthy man by the name of James Deering. Mr. Deering’s character was anything but ordinary and his taste in architecture very distinct. There were no two rooms alike and his tendency to showcase his wealth was a common trend throughout the main house.
Mr. Deering only wanted the finest home features and appliances to impress his guests. For example, the main houses’ kitchen, which is located on the second floor, is equipped with one of the earliest “ice boxes” which today would be considered a refrigerator. The kitchen also features a dumbwaiter which functions as a food elevator. He commissioned some of the most prominent artists around the world to create works for his villa including statues and murals located throughout the property. Lastly, he made sure to have one of the first in-home electric telephones that was held in its own private room.
As previously mentioned, the recurring theme of the property pays tribute to the location of the villa, that is, Miami, Florida. Miami is known for its parties and entertainment and Mr. Deering really incorporated that into the landscape and architecture of the villa. For example, the property features a beautiful pool grotto and a music room. The stunning garden in the back also features a section where there is a maze and a small theatre that was used for entertainment. Lastly, towards the back of the garden, atop the garden mound sits the casino, or “little house”, which was used for parties.
South Beach as Text
“Toaster Ovens and Rocket Ships”
by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at South Beach, 3 November, 2021
Miami’s Art Deco History District is one of Miami’s most visited locations by tourists all over the world. This famed district which runs alongside the beach is home to several restaurants, boutiques, hotels, and night clubs. The streets are lined with iconic buildings that have incredible and unique architectural designs some of which include the Versace Mansion, The Clevelander, and News Café. The buildings located on Miami Beach along Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue, will transport you back to the retro era with their bright pastel colors and neon lights-not to mention, if you look hard enough, they look like toaster ovens and rocket ships. Although we walked the streets of this beautiful area in the morning when it was less crowded, you can still feel the sense of high energy and good spirits from the individuals walking or biking past us blasting their feel-good music. No matter the time of day, this district epitomizes Miami’s lifestyle which is one of its most attractive features.
The history of South Beach is not as lively and welcoming as the ambiance of this district, however. Although it is not commonly talked about or even mentioned, its important to mention how the origins of what we now call South Beach should be attributed to the Bahamians who built it. These African American individuals were treated like they were barely human beings only because of the color of their skin. The way that they were dehumanized and segregated was something that was unfortunately very common at the time. Over the years, South Beach has actually transformed itself into a place where individuality and differences are celebrated. I wish that this was the case back then when those individuals were treated unjustly, but, that goes to show how much we have grown as a society and we have been able to look past our physical differences.
The Deering Estate as Text
“Put on Your Water Shoes”
by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at The Deering Estate, 17 November, 2021
This past week we were transported back in time—back to the 1800’s, 1900’s and as far back as the 1400’s. The Deering Estate is home to one of the richest and extensive history in all of Miami that dates back as far as 10,000 years ago. Not only were we transported to another era, my classmates and I kept mentioning how we felt almost as if we had used a teleport to travel to another part of the world. We were no longer in the Miami we knew for its beaches, palm trees, and night life. It was interesting and ironic, though, because as we walked through the Deering Estate Nature Preserve, you could see houses a few miles away and hear the busy streets nearby.
The Deering Estate is located in the Village of Palmetto Bay and is on the shores of Biscayne Bay. This place was already familiar to my classmates and I since we visited the Deering Estate when we did the Chicken Key Cleanup. However, we had no idea back then that we would come back and experience the Estate in a totally different way. The Richmond Cottage, which is located in the grounds of the Estate, was the home where S. H. Richmond and his family lived and a few years later, it was transformed to one of the first inns in Miami. Individuals who worked on Flagler’s railroad would stay there. Soon after, Charles Deering purchased the property to use as a winter home.
It was incredible to be transported back in time to the Prohibition Era and walk into the hidden wine cellar Mr. Deering kept hidden. From the front porch of the Stone House, you can get a clear view of the Boat Basin that has a bitter history. The Boat Basin was built by Afro-Bahamians who lost their lives building it in a tragic accident that occurred in 1916. As they were drilling the rock, dynamite exploded beneath them killing 4 and severely injuring 5. Although this was a disheartening accident, there is no plaque or remembrance of any kind on behalf of the Afro-Bahamian workers who lost their lives. This is the sad truth in many cases throughout Miami where Afro-Bahamians are not given credit or even mentioned at all for the immense work they did to build this city.
Lastly, my favorite part of the day was when Professor Bailly said, “Put on your water shoes”. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it definitely was not to be walking in waist-deep water slough slogging. We got to walk through the mangroves while trying not to trip over the branches or twist an ankle with the many holes. It was exciting to experience this and we even got to see a plane (called the Cocaine Cowboys Plane) that crashed into the mangroves in the 1990’s.
Again, I was taken back when I realized that I have been living in Miami all my life and I had never known that I was just minutes away from one of the coolest archeological preserves Miami has to offer. I have come to the conclusion that this is a recurring theme with this class and I’m eager to see what else Miami has to offer and surprise me with.
The Rubell Museum as Text
“Contemporary Art: pushing the boundaries of traditional art forms and redefining what art is”
by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at The Rubbell Museum, 24 November, 2021
The Rubell Museum is an art museum located in Miami, Florida in the Allapattah neighborhood. The museum is home to a wide range of contemporary art pieces from artists all around the world. The museum was started by Don and Mera Rubell and their son, Jason Rubell, recently joined the team. The public museum opened its doors fairly recently on December 4th, 2019. The museum features 53,000-square-feet of galleries, with 65% dedicated to long-term installations and 35% to special exhibitions (About Rubell Museum).
Thanks to The Rubell Museum staff, my classmates and I had the special privilege of visiting three of Yayoi Kusama’s interactive installations. All three installations provide the viewer with a transformative experience and allow them to view art from a totally different perspective. The first installation that is accessible to the museum’s guests at no extra charge is the Narcissus Garden. This installation is composed of 700 stainless steel spheres that create a route for museum guests to travel through the main entrance of the museum. The second installation we visited is called Infinity Mirrored Room—Let’s Survive Forever. Only one guest at a time is allowed to experience the room that is filled with more stainless steel spheres and mirrored walls. I felt like I was in a house of mirrors, the traditional attraction at carnivals, yet, this time I wasn’t looking for the way out. On the contrary, I wanted to stay in the interactive art room for as long as possible, enjoying the moment. Lastly, we visited Kusama’s last installation in the museum named Where the Lights in My Heart Go. This room also only allowed one guest at a time and was completely dark except for little lights that resembled a starry night sky. The mirrored walls in this installation also created an illusion that there were an infinity amount of mirrors all throughout the room (Yayoi Kusama).
One artist I found particularly interesting was Jeff Koons. Over the years, Koons has been able to be recognized as a successful artist in the contemporary art world. His work has brought about criticism and controversy because of their uniqueness and obscurity. My personal favorite of his works is the piece called New Hoover Convertible. Koons transformed an ordinary household appliance into a work of art exhibited in a world-renowned museum. The New Hoover Convertible consists of an out-dated vacuum cleaner in an illuminated plexiglass. That’s it. Yet, it makes the viewer recognize that: 1) anything can be considered “art” and, 2) sometime in the future, people will see that vacuum cleaner and think it’s an interesting artwork of the past—just like we thought that of the Tequesta tools.
What qualifies as “art”? Is there a standard to what is beautiful? Who establishes what can and cannot be considered “art”? How can Leonardo de Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night be compared to the artworks that are considered “masterpieces” today in the contemporary art world? All these questions rushed through my mind as I walked through the many different exhibits The Rubell Museum has to offer. The museum made me realize, like Professor Bailly said, that if anyone ever criticizes contemporary art for not qualifying as “art” because “Anyone could have done that”, the response they should receive is that “But, they didn’t”.
About Rubell Museum. Rubell Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://rubellmuseum.org/about-us/about-rubell-museum.
Yayoi Kusama. Rubell Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://rubellmuseum.org/exhibitions/2021-22/2021-yayoi-kusama.
Untitled Art as Text
“Living an Art Major’s Life in a STEM Major’s World”
by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at Untitled Art Miami, 01 December, 2021
Untitled Art is an incredible innovative art experience from the minute you set foot on the sandy sidewalks that border Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida. If you have a passion for contemporary art, this is the perfect event to visit. Coming from a STEM major who is not well-versed in the history and culture of the art world, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the experience and learned so much about this new modern-day art genre.
Untitled Art was founded almost 10 years ago by Jeff Lawson and is comprised of over 145 international contemporary galleries. “The fair connects the best of contemporary art, live events, artist performances and other activations to keep more than 40,000 attendees captive and entertained during Miami Art Week” (Untitled Art). Untitled Art is only one of the many satellite fairs that are considered to be part of “Art Basel Miami 2021”. Art Basel is an annual event that is hosted in 3 different locations around the world: Switzerland, Miami, and Hong Kong. The major event attracts individuals from all over the world and “…brings the international art world together” (Art Basel).
Contemporary art is unlike any other since it really challenges any conceptualization of the meaning of “art”. In my opinion, it’s the best type of art since it gives the art world a refreshing, 20th/21st century taste. That being said, there were two art pieces that caught my attention throughout the art fair.
Camilo Restrepo: The Other Names is one of the first artworks that guests get to see from the entrance. Camilo does an incredible job of using the large white space to display his creative artwork in a way that draws museum goers to his piece. At first glance, anyone would be inclined to believe that all 500+ paintings came directly out of a children’s book because Camilo “…combined and modified Google images along with common knowledge and myth, creating a vast array of the avatars of Columbia’s pop-culture criminal underworld”(Galleries Now). The creativity and story behind his artwork is unimaginable making it clear that the paintings are not simply illustrations from children’s books. Each painting is a portrait drawing of narcos, blackmailers, hitmen, etc. who were all mentioned by their “other names” in Colombia’s largest newspaper (Galleries Now).
Juan Pablo Echeverri is another Colombian artist whose artwork really caught my attention, specifically, his Miss Fotojapón piece. Although this artwork is also around the entrance of the art fair, it did not catch my attention until I was walking back towards the exit. As I was admiring this artwork, I was asking myself the meaning behind it. At first glance, you would think that he simply combined passport pictures of different people and compiled them together. However, as you look closer, you can see that all the pictures are of the same person. My curiosity propelled me to research the meaning behind his artwork and I later found out that he created the piece to resemble stereotypes and how individuals are judged based solely on their appearance. Each picture is a passport picture taken of Juan Pablo for the past 16 years dressed as somebody different each time (Artsy).
As I reflect on the amazing experiences I have had thus-far this semester-thanks to the Honors College and Professor Bailly-I have come to realize how important it is for students to get out of their comfort zones and educate themselves on topics that aren’t necessarily major-specific. That’s a huge benefit the Honors College has to offer. It allows us to grow into well-rounded individuals that are ready to educate others and make a difference, not only in our career paths, but in almost all aspects of life.
“Art Basel.” Art Basel, https://artbasel.com/.
“Camilo Restrepo: The Other Names at Steve Turner, Los Angeles.” GalleriesNow.net, 1 July 2021, https://www.galleriesnow.net/shows/camilo-restrepo-the-other-names/.
“Juan Pablo Echeverri: Miss Fotojapon (1998-2021): Available for Sale.” Artsy, https://www.artsy.net/artwork/juan-pablo-echeverri-miss-fotojapon-1.
“Untitled Art.” Untitled Art, https://untitledartfairs.com/about/.
Everglades as Text
by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at Florida Everglades, 19 January, 2022
The Florida Everglades is just one of Miami’s beautiful natural treasures that we, especially as South Floridians, should take full advantage of. “It protects an unparalleled landscape that provides important habitat for numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile, and the elusive Florida panther” Everglades National Park. We were privileged enough to experience the National Park in the most immersive way possible, which is, by slough slogging. We were lucky to encounter a snake, crocodile, wood storks, and fish (who were exceptionally fond of Professor Bailly).
Before we entered into the cypress dome and submerged ourselves into the ice cold Everglades freshwater, Professor Bailly mentioned how a Jesuit priest friend of his told him that he would someday like to visit Miami in order to experience God’s creation in its purest form (referring to the Florida Everglades). Being that the land beneath our feet where we were slough slogging through had never been altered by mankind, made me realize just how perfect the world was made for all of its inhabitants. Everything plays an important role, from the periphyton growing on plants that help filter the freshwater and provide shelter for small insects to the natural resource of freshwater that flows through the Everglades and supplies drinking water to all of Miami-Dade County.
The strong winds that made their way through the cypress trees as we stood beneath them did not stand a chance against the massive roots that gave the cypress trees the foundation they needed to withstand the impact. The trees are “…valuable to wildlife for food and cover” and “…grow in an elongate, linear shape, parallel with the flow of water” National Park Service. Collectively, the trees form a cypress dome with most of the taller trees growing towards the middle and the shorter ones growing towards the perimeter.
I started off the new year by using a word of the year generator to see what word I would get. I have been trying to keep this tradition for a few years now and use the word to serve as a mental mentor for the year. The word I got was “breathe”. We are now 19 days into the first month of the year and I have already seen how this word has been incorporated into my life on a few occasions, one of them being this class. Although one might be thinking how this story about my word of the year correlates to my experience in the Everglades, I promise, it will all make sense.
Coming from someone who is always trying to be productive, my word for this year has served as a reminder that I deserve to pause, take a few minutes—or in this case, one minute—and just breathe. The transition from slough slogging inside the dome to admiring the dome’s beauty from outside of it left me in awe. The class and I were asked to silent our minds and enjoy 1 minute of nature’s pure beauty and sounds. With every breath, I was able to realize that we have the ability to experience God’s creation at its most raw form right in our backyard, yet, we don’t take advantage of it as much as we should. People around the world, like the Jesuit priest, may never come to experience the Everglades and everything it has to offer, so I came to realize how privileged I was in that moment that before me stood the “Largest subtropical wilderness in the United States” Everglades National Park.
U.S. Department of the Interior. (n.d.). Everglades National Park (U.S. National Park Service). National Parks Service. Retrieved January 19, 2022, from https://www.nps.gov/ever/index.htm
U.S. Department of the Interior. (n.d.). Ecosystems: Cypress. National Parks Service. Retrieved January 19, 2022, from https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/cypress.htm
Coral Gables as Text
“Living the Lavish Life”
by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at Coral Gables, 26 January, 2022
It was such a privilege to be able to tour Coral Gables, a city located southwest of Downtown Miami. Although I have lived a couple streets down from the city of Coral Gables all of my life, the class surprised me, once again, with the immense history and attractions within the city that I did not know existed. As a class, we got the chance to walk around Giralda Plaza, the Biltmore Hotel, the Coral Gables Museum, the Collonade Building, Miracle Mile, and Coral Gables City Hall. An interesting fun fact that I would not have known had it not been for this class is that the city of Coral Gables actually has its own flag!
George Merrick is responsible for the idea and development of the city. He grew up in a simple family of farmers, yet, his dreams and visions were anything but simple. He knew what he wanted from the time he was selling fruit and made that dream a reality by developing the city of Coral Gables with his own stylish twist—Mediterranean Revival style architecture influenced by Spanish cities. It’s impressive that the city was primarily built around the time of the Depression and it was also constructed upon oolitic limestone, which is very difficult to construct over. Although oftentimes Merrick is given all the credit for the development of the city, the hard work the Bahamians put into building the city is oftentimes overlooked—even though their immense efforts should be commemorated since they dealt with intense racial segregation at the time.
The Coral Gables Museum was once a police and fire station which is interesting in and of itself since today, the two professions have completely separate stations. Although the building was converted into a museum, it’s original structure, for the most part, has been preserved. The three garage entrances on the west facade of the building were once used as doors for the firetrucks to enter and leave through and can still be found there today and the lobby to the museum was what used to be the lobby for the police/fire station.
The Biltmore Hotel was our last stop for the day. If you want to feel like royalty for the day, visiting the Biltmore is a must. The grandiose entrance to the hotel is very impressive and the high ceilings with colorful, elegant patterns seems to fit the royalty theme perfectly. At the time the hotel was built, it had the largest pool in all of the United States and it is still used today as the venue for a variety of lavish events. However, the building’s history hasn’t always been lavish since it was also used as an Army general hospital during WWII. As I was staring up into the blue ceiling patterned with gold stars, it was hard to imagine that those same walls once housed a staff of medical personnels and their injured army patients.
The city of Coral Gables is such a beautiful, romantic city. Whether you’re driving, walking, biking, or even scootering around the streets of “the Gables”, it’s hard to not be in awe of the immense history and attractions it has to offer. The almost uniform architecture that can be seen throughout the city is hard to get tired of and the city has so much to offer and experience. Some of which include; Spanish moss curtains overlooking the streets, mansions, hotels, parks, boutiques, public swimming pool, and museums. As George Merrick said to his salesmen, “Remember that what you are selling here is not just land. It is not just a piece of ground on which to put a house. What you are really selling is romance, the stars, the moon, the tropics, the wind off the blue water and the perfume of flowers that never grew in northern climes” (Bailly & Sepulveda, 2021)
Stepulveda, S., & Bailly, J. (2022, January 28). Coral Gables Walking Tour. Bailly Lectures. Retrieved January 31, 2022, from https://baillylectures.com/miami/coral-gables-walking-tour/
River of Grass as Text
“A Place Like No Other”
by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at the Everglades, 16 February, 2022
There is no place on earth like the Florida Everglades and it gets proven to me time and time again as I get these chances to revisit the incredible national park located in South Florida. Among other things, the things that make the Everglades one of the coolest places in the world is that it’s the only place where both crocodiles and alligators live, you can find a rotting crashed plane in the middle of nowhere, the property was previously used by farmers as agricultural land, you can find a missile base that was used during the Cold War, and it is the only place in the world that you can experience “slough slogging”.
Although this trip to the Everglades was not my first, each time I have been, I have gotten a totally different experience out of it. This week my class and I got to experience the Everglades in a way that many individuals who have visited the national park have never been able to. We got the chance to experience the thrill of taking off-trail hikes and encountering places that the public barely knows about. We got an insider’s view of everything the Everglades really has to offer. We got to do some more slough slogging, but, this time around, the water reached up to my waist and I could not see anything beneath me as I trudged along trying to avoid getting my foot stuck in a hole. Like I have written in my biography, however, I’m always up for an adventure and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
The first off-trail hike was short and while we were walking through the main trail, I was eager to find out where it would lead us to, but, little did I know that the trail we were walking on that seemed to just be an ordinary trail was actually not where we were going to end up walking through. We were taking a mini off-trail hike to a destination where almost no one had ever been before. The off-trail hike led us to a house in the middle of the national park that used to be somebody’s home. I can’t even imagine being so fully submersed into nature like that.
Another stop in this week’s lecture was the Nike Missile Base. Although it is not an active missile base today, this historic site was built to protect against a possible air attack from Cuba. As we toured the inside of the barns where the missiles were kept, it was interesting to look around at the dated equipment that was used at the time and the cereal boxes that were being sold with missile advertisements. It was especially interesting to me to learn about the Cuban Missile Crisis since I come from a Cuban-American family. I can’t even imagine what life would have been like while the world waited, on the brink of a possible nuclear war. Fortunately for us, the crisis ended and the United States was untouched by any of the Soviets’ missiles stationed in Cuba that could have easily created a lot of damage (“Cuban Missile Crisis”, n.d.).
Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Cuban missile crisis. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/event/Cuban-missile-crisis
Wynwood as Text
“An art lover’s playground”
by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at Wynwood, 23 February, 2022
The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse is located in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami. The collection features different contemporary visual arts exhibitions which transport the viewer into a different space both emotionally and physically. It’s no ordinary museum, that’s for sure. I was definitely not expecting the size of the works on display—some of which you had to walk around or completely immerse yourself into them to be able to see the work as a whole. Martin Margulies, as a collector, has a keen eye for acquiring works that lure viewers and make them look at art from a totally different perspective. Like the professor says, you don’t have to like it or understand it, but it still doesn’t deny the fact that it is art.
Man Climbing the Ladder is one of the first works that caught my attention. Michelangelo Pistoletto made the piece with the intentions of going beyond “bringing art to life”, instead, he wanted to bring art into life. And that is exactly what he achieved. In the work, you can see yourself on the reflection of the pseudo mirror. It lures you into a metaphorical space so that, in a sense, you become part of the work itself. This kind of work, when compared to medieval or religious art, serves a different purpose. Medieval or religious art serves the purpose of prompting the viewer to experience something outside of the work. For example, a painting or sculpture of a cross will prompt the viewer to reflect on the suffering Christ endured while on the cross from an outsider’s perspective. Therefore, the new form of contemporary art displayed at the Margulies collection gives a refreshing twist on the viewer-artwork dynamic or relationship.
Another piece that caught my attention was the Die Erdzeitalter. Not only was it intriguing because of its grandeur and its 3 dimensional appearance, it had a powerful meaning behind it that completely took me by surprise. The artwork consists of a pile of unfinished canvas paintings which are stacked one on top of each other. The stacked paintings are a collection of the work that the artist started, but that were not completed since he was not satisfied with them. The sculpture also contains sunflower buds that peek through the gaps left by the canvases, each bending down towards the bottom of the sculpture. I stood there, staring at the enormous 17-foot high sculpture, trying to wrap my head around so many different questions I had such as, “How did this even get in here?”, “Does this have a hidden meaning behind it?”, “What is the significance of the sunflower buds?”. The sunflower buds are all pointing towards the bottom of the stack because they are meant to represent how there will always be room for new growth. Although to the artist the paintings were considered to be “failures”, the first step to success is to acknowledge those failures and work through them to see what you did wrong. The meaning behind the sculpture is perfectly exemplified since the sculpture is now showcased in a museum, and not just any museum, one of the world’s greatest collectors’ museums for contemporary art.
All in all, Mr. Marguilles does a fascinating job at choosing art pieces that will foster a relationship between life and art. The museum has a wide variety of pieces that somehow all come together since they all share something in common: they lure the viewer into the artwork itself so that they are immersed within it. From a mattress with a light up sign generated by a refrigerator motor to an array of hanging drapes that carry different sacks of herbs within them, this museum will allow you to experience art in a way you probably never have before. Therefore, the Margulies Collection acts like an art lover’s playground.
Key Biscayne as Text
“U.S. History: a Thread of Biased Opinions”
by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at Key Biscayne, 16 March, 2022
Throughout the course of this class, we have been able to visit the different Miami locations where the Tequestas, Miam’s first human inhabitants, settled in. The very land we have the privilege to stand on today, was the same land the Tequestas camped on, hunted on, and lived in for centuries. Thankfully, however, when we visit Key Biscayne today, we no longer have to endure the pain of vexatious mosquitos nor do we have to rely solely on being able to catch fish to stay alive.
I found it interesting when I made the connection during this past class lecture that the education system in the United States focuses on a single-perspective or set narrative which overlooks the fact that history cannot be looked at from one biased angle. At the end of the day, historic individuals may have lived through the same historic events, yet, narrated it differently which goes to show the plurality of histories. As for me, I never thought to question what was being taught to me in grade school about the United State’s history. I did not think to question why I was only learning about the enormous impacts white men “single-handedly” made during early American history. This is in part because we have been taught to see history from the eyes of the British who overlooked or gave little importance to important historical events—further emphasizing the fact that as students, we are often misled. With that being said, I had never learned about the Southern Underground Railroad. The Southern Underground Railroad allowed thousands of slaves and Black Seminoles to escape Florida which had become a slave state after being sold to the United States by Spain (Tatro, 2021).
The Cape Florida Lighthouse that still stands today, that is, the reconstructed version of it, has a rich history with an incredible story. The lighthouse was built in 1825 within Key Biscayne in order to block the escape route of the Southern Underground Railroad. The location of Key Biscayne served as a perfect location to flee the state since it was close to other countries that could have been havens for fugitive slaves. Not long after the construction of the lighthouse, the Seminole Indians attacked it in 1836 because they were being massacred all over the South. There were two men, an assistant keeper and a slave, left in charge of the lighthouse who fought the Seminoles. They ran into the lighthouse to try to protect themselves, but eventually the Seminoles lit the lighthouse on fire making it hard for them to keep fighting back. The slave man was almost instantly killed, so the other used his body as a human shield as he retreated to the top of the lighthouse. He then threw a keg of gunpowder hoping that it would suppress the fire and it worked. The Seminoles retreated thinking both men were dead and the assistant keeper who survived lived to say his story (“Seminoles Attack Cape Florida Lighthouse”, 2019).
The story of this historic event is portrayed from the perspective that the Seminole Indians were a group of vehement and vicious men who attacked the lighthouse with no underlining reason to do so. However, the attack was purposely executed to prevent themselves from being permanently exterminated or pushed out of their own land. The park even displays an information table with a poorly drawn depiction of what the event might have looked like—portraying the Seminole Indians as an animal group of men ruthlessly burning down the lighthouse and victimizing the Americans who fought against them. This is jut another portrayal of the vicious cycle of ignorance that is produced by the bias history that is taught to us since elementary.
Today, Key Biscayne is known as a wealthy village with its beaches ranking one of the top beaches nationwide. Bills Baggs State Park is just one of the spectacular and unique spots Key Biscayne has to offer. Some of the experiences the park has to offer to its visitors are: bicycle rentals, paddling, fishing, picnicking, swimming, lighthouse tours, paddle boarding, and wildlife viewing. Some amenities include: the Lighthouse Cafe, Boater’s Grill, picnic pavilions, playgrounds, kayak rentals, beach wheelchairs, and hydro bike rentals. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Beach offers a different experience to its visitors when compared to other Miami beaches. This beach offers a more tranquil environment with its breathtaking, crystalline water making it extra tempting for the park’s visitors to get in 365 days a year (“Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park”, 2019).
Ben.dibiase. (2019, March 31). Seminoles attack Cape Florida Lighthouse. Florida Historical Society. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://myfloridahistory.org/date-in-history/july-23-1836/seminoles-attack-cape-florida-lighthouse
Bill Baggs cape Florida state park. Key Biscayne Chamber of Commerce. (2019, May 23). Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://www.keybiscaynechamber.org/bill-baggs-cape-florida-state-park/
Tatro, C. (2020, July 22). The Saltwater Underground Railroad moved slaves from Florida to freedom. HowStuffWorks. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://history.howstuffworks.com/historical-events/saltwater-underground-railroad.htm
Coconut Grove as Text
“When Life Gives you Lemons, You Make Lemonade”
by Ashley Sanchez of FIU at Coconut Grove, 30 March, 2022
Coconut Grove has an extremely rich history that goes way back. Some of its history deserves to be celebrated, while other parts of it don’t—yet, those events still happened, therefore, they deserve to be recognized. Coconut Grove, or “the Grove”, is 10 minutes south of downtown Miami and it is Miami’s oldest neighborhood. The city has a lot to offer; over the years, the city has developed into a thriving hotspot for both locals and tourists to shop, dine, and enjoy the marinas.
Coconut Grove became part of the City of Miami in 1985. The Bahamians were the city’s first inhabitants and together, they created the oldest Black community in Dade county. Although the racial segregation at the time was intense, the Bahamians were able to create a symbiotic relationship with the northern settlers that were there. When life gave them lemons, they definitely made lemonade. The Bahamians made the community of Coconut Grove thrive by building homes, cemeteries, a library, a community center, and churches—this way, they could stay separate from the White communities while still being able to build a great community that had everything they needed.
Mariah Brown was a Bahamian woman who was a single mother of three children. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1880 to give her children a chance at a better life. Although she was a person of color in the 1880’s, she had big dreams and did not let gender inequalities stop her. She worked at the Peacock Inn when she arrived at Coconut Grove from the Bahamas where she was able to raise enough money to purchase her own plot of land in order to build a home for her and her daughters. This was a huge sign of woman empowerment; not only was she a woman, she was a Black woman who became a landowner. Mariah Brown and E.W.F. Stirrup were among the first African-Bahamian families that built the foundation to the Black community that later settled in the city. E.W.F. Stirrup immigrated to the city a few years after Brown and was extremely vital to the city’s history since he built most of the first homes for African-Bahamian immigrants like himself in Coconut Grove.
Today, the community is still very much alive. Although gentrification has taken over many properties, it has not completely erased the city’s history. Walking through Charles’ Avenue, you can still see preserved conch houses that serve historical importance such as the E.W.F. Stirrup house and the Mariah Brown house. This is what made the Bahamians feel like home. That is why Flora, a volunteer for the Christ Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove, continues to drive 50 minutes every day from her new home in Homestead to the church. Because although gentrification drove her and other families that once lived in the city away, that church belongs to what she still calls home: Coconut Grove. The Bahamians were able to love their country not for its reality, but for its aspirations.