Janelle Ducheine: Miami as Text 2022

Photo taken by Emma Cairo/ cc 4.0

Janelle Ducheine (Juh-nel Du-shen) is a junior enrolled at Florida International University, majoring in Biological Sciences and Natural/Applied Sciences. From a young age she has always been passionate about helping others and have been apart of many projects and organizations to do so, ranging from tutoring elementary students to beach clean ups. However, she most enjoyed being apart of a clinical setting, believing that helping people from within will reflect on the surface, she decided on pursuing a career in Ophthalmology. On her free time, Ducheine enjoys exploring her hometown, Miami, with her friends, traveling to new locations, and exploring art museums.

Deering as Text

Honey-Pot” by Janelle Ducheine of FIU at The Deering Estate on January 28, 2022.

Photo by Janelle Ducheine/ cc 4.0

Living in Miami, allows for people to be exposed to seemingly endless amounts of cultures. And as a society, we are constantly making efforts to improve. Not only through improving our cognitive process but as well as altering the environment around us. The history of Miami as we know it, is based on the intersectionality of a variety of cultures found throughout the world. This is evident throughout the creation of the Deering estate. The original natives of the land that inhabited the Deering estate, the Tequestas, used oolite stones they found to make daily activities such shucking shellfish an easier task. The only basis being if it was a comfortable grip for the action needed to be done. Centuries later, afro-Bahamians voyaged the sea to build imitations of structures they’ve never seen. The stone home is replicating the style of the Mediterranean, yet still include unique touches such as the hand-carved animals inscribed into the columns.

During my tour at the Deering estate, Professor Bailey emphasized not only the history of the creation of Miami, but also the cultural impact it has contributed. Different people bring different ideas and techniques when contributing to the creation of a goal. Because of these distinct influences, Miami grew to be a “hot-spot” or popular commercial area. To this day, these influences continue carrying on the legacy of Miami however through a much faster rate and in “modern ways”. However, this was not always the case. The Deering estate was created in a time of racial segregation. The Afro-Bahamian workers endured intense labor with minimum safety and benefits. Or for example, The Cutler Burial mound, a preserved area that is a mass burial site of 12-18 Tequesta people around a large old oak tree. This site was not always preserved and maintained and was mistreated in its discovery. It is important to note that this type of abuse, exploitation, and/or disregard of cultures is also a part of Miami history.

Vizcaya as text

Miami’s founder of funby Janelle Ducheine of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on February 18, 2022.

Photo by Janelle Ducheine/ cc 4.0

For as long I have lived in Miami, I always recognized the city as “the party of the south” without ever questioning the origin of this concept. I figured it was something about being located near the water and access to seemingly infinite number of activities regardless of the time of day. With one of the most beautiful and iconic landmarks in Miami being the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. The grand entrance filled with luscious greenery spreading in all directions combined with the Mediterranean style castle depicts the pinnacle of relaxation and entertainment. However, understanding the style, use, and origin of this location requires understanding the original owner, James Deering. As the house was being built, he had envisioned it to be an area designated for plush treatment and entertainment, every aspect of the property was made for amusement of its inhabitants. There are a variety of features that hinted to this. For example, the 16th century statue of the Roman god of wine and ecstasy, Bacchus, carrying a jug of grapes, is located at the west entrance. In the garden, there is a well-kept shrub maze garden. There is even a room dedicated for music. As guests arrived, he would greet them while holding a cigar and a glass of whiskey, while encouraging them to indulge in everything the house had to offer, whether it ranged from using the telephone booth to taking a bath in wine. Deering had pride in his home, having the phrase “J’ai dit” engrained in glass on windows shows that he took great pleasure in knowing that he was able to create a paradise, In a conceited manner. His vision along with his ideals of amusement is the seed of how the world views Miami and was quickly (and still is) being echoed throughout the city. Even the diversity present in the creation of Vizcaya is being repeated. This oasis is a product of various key aspects from different countries around the world: a fountain from Italy, Islamic-styled home, and Bahamian workers and many more. Miami today is known as a melting pot of culture. Understanding that James Deering created the original identity over a century ago dubs him the title of “Miami’s founder of fun”.

Miami as text

Upgrade #∞” by Janelle Ducheine of FIU at Downtown Miami on March 11, 2022.

Collage by Janelle Ducheine/ cc 4.0

Miami has always been a flashy metropolitan, yielding recognition from around the world, that is constantly changing. This is evident in many sub-cities like Downtown or Wynwood. Constantly, buildings are being brought down to bring up bigger and brighter ideas. Oftentimes even being built over, such as the Tequesta burial site under a Whole Foods Market. Although the reasoning behind this constant change in landscape is variable, it is a common theme shared by the majority of buildings and attractions in the 305. But why? What makes Miami so distinctive and why is her image ever-changing? Originally, I assumed it was the year-round warm climate. However, weather alone isn’t enough to swoon a mass group of people to inhabit a land for decades. After careful evaluation, I’ve determined that it is because Miami is comfortable for many people. By comfort, this does not include soaring gas prices and rent, which is more than enough reason for most people to not permanently reside here. Comfort in the sense of the social-cultural dynamic. As mentioned in a previous blog, Miami is a melting pot of cultures. Although it may be a strongly Latino community, people from all corners of the globe can be found here. Most people who live in Miami are immigrants or at least children of immigrants, coming for a better way of life. Arriving to a new location can be intimidating, so when people find someone or a group from their place of origin, they are quick to stay together. Over the years, immigration rates have only increased, making accommodating space much more difficult. This influx of people also gives rise to an influx of creative ideas that residents will want to share. Miami cannot geographically change in size, so what is available is frequently changing to reflect the addition of people, creativity, and culture.

So-be as Text

Cohesive Chaos” by Janelle Ducheine of FIU at South Beach Miami on April 1, 2022.

Photo and collage captured by Janelle Ducheine/ cc 4.0

Being raised in Miami has exposed me to a seemingly infinite variety of diasporas. Although beautiful, the city is much more than just sandy shores, suffocating heat, and upbeat nightlife. For decades people from around the world uproot their lives and begin anew here. Natives and tourists alike can not escape the reality of different customs and beliefs. As a result, modifications to the land and habits of the people have molded the community to what it is known as today. This is showcased in so many ways, the most prevalent factors being through social interactions and artwork. Early on, Miami has been very progressive in the attitudes it has with how an individual decides to live their life. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are comfortable enough to move as they please without worrying for criticism, even since when the HIV epidemic was new and assumed to come from homosexual relations. Even now, with the creation of “Drag bars”, drag queens are truly embracing themselves while also showing the same passion and joy to the people that dine in the restaurant. This is extremely uncommon in many states throughout the country, much less countries throughout the world. The fluidity in styles showcased all throughout Miami Is a feat worth admiring. From murals sprayed on the floor to figures etched into intricate patterns on hotels. Interestingly enough, not only the background of the artists is from a foreign origin but so are many of the influences behind them. For example, many of the buildings follow a theme called “Art Deco” which originates from France. Or also the Versace mansion, that is replica of Italian style homes. The non cohesive nature makes Miami so outlandishly unique.

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