Xsaiver Horn: España as Text 2022

Madrid As Text

paintings by artists, respectively (Velasquez, Goya, Dali, Picasso)

Photos of Las Meninas.

Photo by Xsaiver Horn/CC by 4.0

“Traversing the Transfers of Madrid and Europe”

by Xsaiver Horn of FIU at The Deering Estate

9-14 June 2022

Finally landing in Madrid is quite literally a breath of fresh air. Just coming from Lisbon, Portugal, where I didn’t speak the language was very relieving; in addition to the dryer climate and beautiful variety of views, senses, and people within the city.

Starting back up lectures with Bailly was a walk in the park after our short weekend excursion (pun-intended). While exploring a new country alone was quite a vivid experience, being guided and taught by one of the best-in-class is so much more thrilling and the time spent here has been much more productive.

I would love to ush-and-gush about all of Madrid I’ve explored but for the sake of research and studying such an expansive city, I have chosen to magnify my study’s to Ida y Vuelta within the Art and Culture of Madrid.

A few of the most exciting moments for me were finally seeing such artworks and culture in real life. Some of the art I am most drawn to are Las meninas by David Velasquez, Guernica by Pablo Picasso, The baroque painted ceilings in The Royal Palace of Madrid. Only upon reviewing the images taken in these Museums / Palaces and viewing them again online though, did I stumble upon Artist renditions of Las Meninas by both Picasso, Goya, and Salvador Dali.

One small example of the so-called Ida/Vuelta of culture is the transversal of Baroque art. Originally from Italy and traveling all across Europe and eventually dying off over the course of just over a millennium.

A HUGE factor in the spread of Culture and specifically art culture is because of the Salons and the Success of the Academy in Paris. Not only were people from around Europe practicing art and painting in Paris with the best, but all of the world-class artists were actually aquatinted if not even friends! Additionally, King Philip coming from Italy actually brought some artists with him to paint the palace in newer styles.

Spain eventually develops its own style soon after the gothic era and baroque styles, and this leads to even more communication between city, states, and countries that unifies and makes Madrid a beautiful art centerpiece in Spain, and even making Spain the country with some of the most well known artists in the world.

Toledo as Text

Photos of Lecture

Picture by Xsaiver Horn/CC by 4.0

“Tons of Tin n’ El Greco”

by Xsaiver Horn of FIU

We rode a bus straight into The View of Toledo by el Greco; a canvas sized interpretation of an ancient city.  Toledo is a walled hilltop community which holds the densest religious festival known in Spain called Corpus Christi.

Yearly, there is a world-famous 160 kilo medieval artifact comprised of gold, silver, and precious stones called ‘The Monstrance’ which is drunkenly marched through the cramped streets. Our class arrived the day before, and we got to witness the eve of a momentous occasion, celebrated with decorating , dancing and chanting with water dragons and giant headed lady’s.

The walls and doors were adorned with medallions. Flowers line the street underneath the awning, providing shade and protection to all in the Monstrance’s path.

Underneath the ornate Christian facade lies a city seeped in rich Jewish heritage. A thousand years ago during Muslim rule there were Jewish community’s coexisting within its society. Though practitioners of Judaism were eventually expelled by the Christians 500 years ago, they could not expel the monumental architectural marvels they built.

Still, what remains of its past is what entirely makes Toledo and its celebrations such a beautiful festivity. As history will continue to repeat, history is both saved and destroyed with layers painted onto the walls of the synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca.

This is done annually in a thick hoary wash, attempting to not only to disinfect and prevent spread of plague, but also originally serving to conceal the past of the structure.

Granada as Text

Photo of students trying the whisper room

Pictures by John Bailly/CC by 4.0

“Sharing the Best with the Best”

by Xsaiver Horn of FIU

I’m sorry for the informality, but BRO! Nothing has ever made me jealous as to desire to go back in time, no modern technology, a/c, phone or wifi, photos, etc… other than this city.

There was always something nice to smell, or a gorgeous sight to gaze upon, or something engaging to hear. I was brought quite close if not to a scream nearly in pain, similar to the cuteness aggression you feel for an adorable baby kitten; instead at the colors and complexity of the floors, walls, roofs, and even information of our tour.

We did not talk about Alhambra or the Albayzin anywhere near enough before our trip. I was not prepared for both the culture shock of the collision of cultures, and the beauty that had me and my boyfriend moonstruck.

Most of the notes I took this day were through WhatsApp, texting him how excited I’d be if we could come visit together, and begging him to already start ordering his passport, and letting out all my feelings about how being here made me feel.

I was young again. I want to camp outside here. I want to swim with the fish in the water to the heaven. I want to gaze and fill my mind with hope to the roofs of the seven heavens.


What a pretty plant

that I’d love to eat

What would I do?

to make it a treat

Smells of candy

and sugar, so sweet

Maybe I can like a 


But only his retreat

It reminds me of home

the smells and the colors

A comfortable place I once 

lived with my gran

With a tree of these flowers

where me and my brother

would stand

Sevilla as Text

Photos of Lecture

Picture by Xsaiver Horn/CC by 4.0

“The Moving, Humming Cathedral”

by Xsaiver Horn of FIU

What a quaint city. One of the smallest we stayed in and one of the most darling. It felt like a middle sibling in the best way possible in the ways it was in the middle of our trip, it was silent and well-behaved, not forgotten but instead she took some time to get to know.

Though she was not my favorite city, it felt the most like authentic Spain and was everything I could have asked from my study abroad trip. Even from the housing, which was the best of our 3 apartments, to the day trips to marvelous city’s with culturally rich past, and places/events we went to.

Beyond being so authentically Spanish, we visited greatly cultured nearby city’s, and experienced first-hand the cross-cultural spread of ideas, architecture, art, social rules.

El Catedral de Sevilla is the world’s largest gothic cathedral, fourth largest in the world. It stands on the site of a mosque that was torn down to build this megalithic cathedral, said to have been created to be perceived as ‘so large, anyone who saw it would believe the makers were mad’.

Entering to sound of the gentle-but-full-bodied hum of the organ pipes during Sunday mass sent chills through the more just my own body. The greatest religious experience our class may ever experience was watching the birds fly above as we were all moved, some to tears. After such an ecstatic feeling and scene, we all in awe continued to view the majesty of the church.

The Seville Cathedral houses significant history, artifacts, and architecture as well; this includes the DNA-Confirmed remains of Christopher Columbus, the salient stained-glass windows, excellent tours.

Author: xsaiverr

My name is Xsaiver, and I use He/Him and She/Her pronouns (Name pronounced Xavier) and I am a current FIU Honors student. I am working towards a BFA in Studio Arts, and I am super eccentric, exciting, and creative. This semester and the next (Spring and Summer 2022) I will be exploring the synchronicities between Spain and Miami, as well as visiting Spain to compare the same ones and back. I am super excited to learn more about the culture our city runs on and dive into the roots of lots of our modern workings from Spain!

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