Nathaly Lopez: Miami as Text 2022

Deering as Text

Roots Grow Deeper”

Mary’s headboard at the Deering Estate. Photo by Nathaly Lopez/ CC. 4.0

By Nathaly Lopez of FIU at the Deering Estate on February 7th, 2022

The Deering Estate was an excursion like no other. Full of rich history, environment, and secrets. Like any aged place, there are beautiful, eye-captivating sights above the surface and roots that grow deeper than the mangroves do below the surface. The diversity of the Deering Estate captures many, from the never-ending forest, to the 2oth century era homes, to the palm tree aisles over the aqua landscape. However the honeymoon doesn’t last forever, and once you step onto Deering terrain you’re transported to different moments of its history, the true Deering Estate.

Step into the jungle and feel the quiet stillness of the Tequesta remains, remembering your ancestors before you. Overlooking the bay, what is a beautiful serene sight is also where 4 bahamians were killed and 5 were injured due to inadequate work conditions. Injustice is part of the Deering Estate’s legacy and it’s memory remains.

Another key aspect of the estate are the homes. The American style Richmond Cottage is a hotel, turned home, turned museum as it accompanies the Spanish Stone house once lived in by Charles Deering and his family. The house is elaborate in design, with a panoramic view of the bay from the second floor. The windows portray mosque-style to them, which is interesting as other portrayals of faith are found throughout the house. The inside of the house is detailed and decorated in various spaces, including a prohibition era wine cellar safeguarded in the basement. Deering’s status and wealth allowed him to have such privileges, a drastic juxtaposition from the poor Bahamians who built the estate.

However, what impacted me the most was Charles’ daughter, Mary’s headboard in her room, as pictured above. Out of all the art pieces in the Deering Mansion, none I found as complex and symbolic as this one, therefore I’ll give my best interpretation. The painting depicts Jesus Christ after being crucified. His body is lying lifeless in his mother Mary’s arms. Both Jesus and Mary have halo’s which could mean they are holy and favored in God the Father’s eyes. Mary’s heartbroken as depicted by her heart having 7 arrows penetrating it. 7 is considered a holy number. Behind Jesus and Mary, there’s a veil hanging on the cross, perhaps a symbol of how Jesus hung on the cross, since veils maintain purity and Jesus is pure. The sun and the moon are above the veil which hangs on the horizontal beam of the cross. Life can be thought of as the physical world, what is limited to our 5 senses, which represents the horizontal beam. We constantly live in two planes: the horizontal plane, the world we live in as humans; and the vertical plane, where our being is, our souls. Therefore, Jesus is always described as the light of the world, thus the Son of God represent the Sun. The moon reflects light from the sun as it can’t produce it’s own, which represents us. We can reflect the light inside of us if we choose to. Where I’m getting with this is that the sun(Jesus) and the moon(us) are above the horizontal part of the cross (the world) in order to shine light and maintain purity(veil). What’s also interesting about this piece is the angels pulling back the curtains as if it were a theater performance. As if it were staged… we know that Jesus’s crucifixion was part of God’s plan to save humanity, therefore it was planned. Another interesting detail are the flowers who seem to have eyes as the audience. The painting seems to depict The Crucifixion as a staged presentation while the audience watches, and the flowers represent us, just like flowers we wither and are temporary. To conclude, this piece of art is packed with symbolism, therefore I’d say it deserves some awe and attention, however I’m still left pondering. Why did Mary have this as her headboard? Why did she keep this portrayal in her room?

Vizcaya as Text

“Light Shines Through”

Photo by Nathaly Lopez/ CC. 4.0

by Nathaly Lopez of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on February 18th, 2022

Vizcaya is an interesting site, known for being a lover’s paradise and scenic picturesque playground, it’s romantic feel allures people of all cultures into it’s glorious nature and beautiful architecture.

Vizcaya’s origins come from James Deering’s Mediterranean vision of a new Miami. Through that dream and much wealth, he turned a green jungle into the urban jungle that Miami is today. At the time, segregation still ran rampant, especially in the south, therefore the touristic Vizcaya we know today was built on Bahamian labor, sweat, and sacrifice. It’s important to take a moment to honor these men that built the foundations of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens we know today.

While Vizacaya today represent many things: a once party house, a couples retreat, and where people take their quinces pictures, that’s only the surface superficial view of the tropical attraction. James Deering’s egoic endeavor of having an architectural replica of European style with a very romantic expression to it is just but the tip of the iceberg. The light shines through the stained glass and James’ true intention is revealed as a sort of playhouse, with the house being a host for parties, fun, and not taking life too seriously. Some of the rooms only served the purpose of elevating James Deering’s image, such as the office space and the music room. The art, as well, was placed in each room merely for James’ enjoyment, thus marking Miami as the pleasure-seeking capital. A title that has since lived on, but I am grateful we are able to see Vizcaya for truly what it is: James Deering’s playground turned lover’s rendezvous, that was once built on Bahamian labor, in which it excluded minorities and the poor.

Miami as Text

“Peace Comes Barkin”

Photo by Nathaly Lopez/ CC. 4.0

by Nathaly Lopez of FIU at Downtown Miami on March 11th, 2022

Miami is a cultural melting pot, filled with the different flavors and customs that make Miami, well Miami. It’s the juxtaposition of the old and the new, the rich and the poor, the sea and the land, that makes the Downtown Miami we know today. With all it’s history and art and culture and people, Downtown is a vibrant part of Miami, it’s the part of Miami foreigners dream of.

While Downtown Miami is renowned for it’s diversity, modern skyscrapers, and beach proximity, one hidden gem is the Miami River dog park. As simple as it seems, the Miami dog park is exactly that, a relaxed space for dogs to frolic in the grass and for their owners to just be. It’s at the entrance where the Atlantic ocean becomes the Miami River, which is surrounded by hotels, restaurants, and life. Miami is filled with the history of slavery, the indigenous, and battle, however when coming to the dog park one forgets of all their worries and can just breath in the fresh salty air while they watch their innocent pups have fun. It’s a simple yet profound place to be at. Ultimately, we need an outlet from the hectic world we live in, in order to maintain our peace, and a space such as this one provides that peace. That is what makes this dog park stand out the most, it’s simplicity to just be amidst the busy city.

SoBe as Text

Sunset Paradise

Photo by Nathaly Lopez/ CC. 4.0

by Nathaly Lopez of FIU at South Beach on April 1st, 2022

Peace. Is what this picture describes to me. Amidst the bustling traffic and noise of the cruise ships, South Beach is a relic of it’s own. Ocean Drive attracts diverse nations of people to it’s sidewalks and architectural styles flood down Fifth Street. South Beach was known as a ghost town before famous names brought popular media attention to it’s doors. Ever since, the South Beach atmosphere changed. New buildings began popping up along the corridor, some hotels, some restaurants. New life was emerging in the South side of Miami, desperate for some salt air and inclusion. All roads lead to home, or in this case, the beach. The South Point Pier is another attraction of the Miami Beach promenade, purposeful for fishing and catching a view of the open water. Cruise ships dock from there and cargo travels through it’s waters. Illegal cargo began a booming business in the 1980’s which is what contributed to South Beach’s style and culture today.

Today South Beach continues to have a liberal atmosphere when walking past it’s art deco architecture, but eventually you’ll find yourself staying at the beach. South Beach. To whom belongs the clearest water in Miami. When you do stray away from the street noise however, you’ll find what you always wanted. Peace.

Author: Nathaly

Nathaly Lopez is a junior majoring in Psychology while on the pre-med track at Florida International University. What she loves most, people and well-being, has lead her into pursuing a lifelong journey into medicine. She's been blessed to serve children and their families everyday as she grows alongside them. Her other creative pursuits include journaling, admiring nature, and fashion. Ms.Lopez hopes to experience deeper connections to history, culture, art, life and anything else beyond her imagination.

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