Jane Osowski: Miami as Text 2022-2023

Jane is a twenty year-old Florida International University student studying biology and hospitality. She grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and loves to explore the world beyond her home. She now lives in Miami, FL where she is discovering the “real Miami” with FIU Honors. In her free time she works as a lifeguard, enjoys backpacking trips and encourages sustainability through her position as VP of Society for Sustainable Souls.

Historic Miami as Text

“Through the River’s Eyes” by Jane Osowski of FIU in Downtown Miami on August 31, 2022.

Photo taken by Jane Osowski // CC by 4.0

Skyscrapers, city lights, coconut trees, islands with high-class housing…as I walked along the Miami River for the first time, I was filled with awe by the essence of what is commonly known as Miami. 

But was I seeing the real Miami? 

I learned that “Miami” comes from the name the early people gave to their life-giving river. When the early people called Tequesta were pushed into Biscayne Bay by Europeans, they skillfully adapted to the terrain with the help of this river (Davis, 1935). One can see on a map that the Miami River flows from the Everglades to the Atlantic Ocean. This connection to the ocean provided the Tequesta with the best of both worlds. They had access to both fresh water for drinking and a vast ocean for fishing. At the HistoryMiami museum, there is a Tequesta dugout canoe displayed that was used to catch whale in the ocean. It is astonishing to imagine that almost 200 years ago, instead of sidewalks and balconies the land was marsh and there were huts scattered along the river.  

Years later, when Europeans forced the Tequesta out of their home yet again, the landscape began to change. The agenda was profit and those in charge were blinded by dollar signs. The waterfalls were diminished. The river was made wider and deeper so ships could pass through (Miami River History). What was dug out was used to make a luxury island. Little did they know, this could lead to an ecological disaster. The Tequesta burial grounds turned into construction sites and the first attraction, the Royal Palm Hotel went up (Bailly, 2022). Although the river looked pretty with the new surrounding decorations, it was atrocious inside. The river was polluted from hotel sewage dumps and it continues to be toxic to this day.  

This time, when I walk along the Miami River, I see through the river’s eyes. Now teary, weeping for our fate. I see the Tequesta skulls in the sidewalks, coconuts of colonization and worries in the water. I see the minimal efforts of multimillionaire companies and the Church to make up for their massacre of land and culture with a simple memorial plaque or mural. I see that living in Miami for most is a blessing. I see that sometimes life seems kinder when you are blind. I see that there cannot be good without the bad nor give without a take. Soon the river’s tears will accumulate to take vengeance on the hotels and return the islands back to their Atlantis state. What I hope is that we do not get caught in the crossfire.  

Living here does not mean I am destined to be a puppet of profit. Miami is ever changing, and so are we. We can look at the past and grow from it, to not repeat it. To treat every living and non-living thing with respect, because as my mother always said: what you give out to the world is what you will get back. And that is…the essence of Miami. 

Works Cited

Bailly, John William. “Historic Miami.” Bailly Lectures, 28 Aug. 2022, https://baillylectures.com/miami/miami/.

Davis, T. Frederick 1935 Juan Ponce de León’s Voyages to Florida. The Florida Historical Quarterly 14:3- 70. 

“Miami River History.” Miami River Commission, Rosenstiel School, https://www.miamirivercommission.org/river3.htm

Overtown as Text

“Last Tree Standing” by Jane Osowski of FIU in Historic Overtown on September 14, 2022.

Photo taken by Jane Osowski// CC by 4.0

We arrived at Greater Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of a few notable structures still standing from the golden age of Overtown. Although, the town did not seem to be shining anymore. As we waited to enter, I watched people walk by the condominiums across the street. They were all homeless. I would soon find out why. 

When we walked in, it was quiet as most churches are, but the ambiance was melancholy, eerie, and old. Despite this, the stained-glass art that surrounded me was beautiful. It depicted religious figures, but not the usual whitewashed ones, they were brown colored. Ahead of me there were light brown wooden pews filling the entirety of the main room, all facing towards the front.  

I grew up in Wisconsin where the tales of lumberjacks meant tales of strength and perseverance. Our prized possessions are pasted on wooden plaques or secured in intricately designed boxes to protect them. But in that moment, these wooden pews did not seem strong, they appeared as ancient artifacts, too delicate and too rich in history to be used or support someone. As we made our way down past the pews to the front of the church, the podium in the middle called out to us to come closer. It felt like this wooden structure was in the center of what used to be a beautiful forest, but now the podium is the last tree standing. This tree is holding on to what is left, holding the soil down but begging for some water, for someone to come along and feed it instead of cutting it. I can tell that this podium in Overtown has significant potential to bear fruit for the community. Much like a tree holds its history in the rings of its trunk, this podium holds the history of inspirational words once spoken. It is likely to be the same podium that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke this encouragement into (qtd. By Stanford Univ.): 

There is blood on the hands of those who halt the progress of our nation and frustrate the advancement of its people by coercion and violence. But despite this, it is our duty to pray for those who mistreat us. We must pray for a change of attitude in all those who violate human dignity and who rob men, women and little children of human decency. We must pray for ourselves that we shall have the strength to move forward each day, knowing that our every act can emancipate us and can add compassion to the heart of our nation. We must pray for the power that comes from loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nowadays the government is making it difficult for these people of color to pray. One can see on a map that they built the interstate right through Overtown. This disturbance replaced occupied wooden homes for cement and steel so that automobiles could drive over the community, instead of through it. Then, they built luxury condominiums for the affluent people of Miami. Most of the residents who were displaced either no longer had a home or could not afford to live there. 

We were introduced to Wendell who works hard to support the church. Wendell told us that the church is funded fully by its community. With the old community displaced and new uninterested neighbors, it has become harder to maintain the building. To make matters worse, a sign from last year showed that the church was under threat of removal due to its unsafe structure.  

Although the podium’s microphone is not powerful enough to mask the noise of the interstate and reach the listeners now disbursed to distant neighborhoods, it still holds power. It is just waiting for the right person to come by and water it, to speak their powerful words into it, and pack the wooden pews to make history again. 

It is sad to me that the rich and influential history of Overtown, which I have not even begun to elaborate on, is disregarded in the Miami-Dade schools that my peers attended. It is for this reason and more for why this town is being disrespected and cut down little by little. I am thankful I had the opportunity to see this town before it is gone and for a professor who is sharing where the real history in Miami is. 

Works Cited

“Address Delivered at a Meeting Launching the SCLC Crusade for Citizenship at Greater Bethel AME Church.” The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, 24 May 2021, https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/address-delivered-meeting-launching-sclc-crusade-citizenship-greater-bethel

Chicken Key as Text

“Discovering an American Subterfuge” by Jane Osowski in Biscayne Bay, Miami on October 5, 2022.

Photo taken by Professor John William Bailly// CC by 4.0

As we trudged through the mud up to the solid land of Chicken Key and peered out from the web of mangrove branches, we saw something that shocked us. We had come to the island to pick up and remove trash that was trapped in the mangroves. At first, we were just picking up microplastics and small objects on the coast until we migrated further south. What we saw was something that could only resemble a landfill. The land was overwhelmed with large plastic containers, shoes and fishing line which painted the marshy scene with blots of red, white and blue. Oddly, these colorful additions to the landscape seem patriotic, but I did not feel proud of my country in that moment. 

Standing there in awe, I was hit with flashbacks of when I was visiting Honduras at the age of twelve. One day I went for a walk alone on the beach and I noticed an absurd number of bottles and trash along the beach. There were many big containers just like the ones on Chicken Key. A little bit further there was a woman who was squatting down, cleaning clothes in a water spring. Behind her, lay a few ramshackle houses. I was told that the locals live in those houses and the trash that surrounds them is not theirs. The cruise boats that pass by (usually American cruise boats) dispose of their trash in the ocean and whatever can float, makes its way to the shore where these people live.  

To me, it seems cruel to allow anyone or anything to live in a pile of trash. As we began to remove the never-ending amount of trash that was embedded into that strip of Chicken Key, I noticed all these creatures living within the trash. There were lizards, hermit crabs, a variety of insects and more. This plastic perdition is not their natural home. I know that there are even endangered species that can use this place as a home, but if it is covered in trash they will not thrive there.  

Most people in the United States live in a bubble. The horrors of pollution are hidden from us. We are taught that what we can’t see, doesn’t matter. The landfills are distanced from our cities, our pollution is poured into the oceans and our unused textiles are sent overseas. I’m sure if a landfill was in our own backyards we wouldn’t be so quick to buy and throw things away. 

Our American society doesn’t make it very easy to minimize waste. One-use plastics and disposable packaging are normalized. In Miami and Florida International University specifically, recycling and composting are hard to find. In contrast, when I was backpacking through Europe, I noticed trash is dealt with much differently. Most cities in Europe have bans on plastic bags and straws as well as garbage bins that are specialized for many types of waste so that recycling can occur. There were even fines on one island I went to if you didn’t separate your trash correctly. My favorite implementation was an entire town that had sets of reusable dishes and cups for anyone wishing to throw a party. 

Here as well as around the world, we have hundreds to thousands of stores in one city for things we don’t even need to survive. Someday, all the contents of stores will go to a landfill or overseas to become another country’s problem. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things that humans need to live comfortably but we don’t need this much.  

Think about one isle in Target. Imagine if you put all the items in the isle, into a pile. Then, you took all the piles from every isle in the store and put them together. I imagine it would be a big hill. Then imagine every target in Miami put their piles together. Just Miami’s Targets would be a landfill of its own! In addition, this landfill mountain is just one moment in time. Stores re-stock over time and all inventory is eventually replaced so this mountain just grows as time goes by. 

Although our society is structured to encourage wasteful habits, there are easy ways to minimize your impact. If you are reading this, I hope that you can find the motivation to learn about and incorporate waste reduction patterns in your life. I look forward to the day when we can return to Chicken Key and see nothing but the natural beauty that it is. 

South Beach as Text

“Accessibility and Inequality” by Jane Osowski in South Beach on October 26, 2022.

Photos taken by Jane Osowski // CC by 4.0

After spending a day back at one of my favorite neighborhoods in the United States, I asked myself why it’s been so long since I’ve returned. I live only 16 miles away from this beautiful, lively art deco beach neighborhood packed with history. Yet, I struggle to get there. I realized that although I live in Miami, I do not have much of an advantage to access this gem. 

The first thing I realized when planning to spend a day in South Beach was how difficult it is to physically get there. Like other young locals, I do not own a car so I must take a ride share or public transportation. From Florida International University, which is on the west side of Miami, it is only 16 miles from South Beach, but this will cost me close to 40$ one way or more than 2 hours, respectively. This cost or time to travel 16 miles to South Beach is equivalent to a 14-hundred-mile flight a tourist could take to get from Chicago to Miami. It would be much quicker and affordable if the Metrorail reached these communities to the west of Miami International Airport. For a Miamian who owns a car and wants to drive to South Beach, they will need to park and there is no free parking. Based on what I have seen, parking ranges from 15-50 dollars a day.  

If transportation hasn’t deterred locals, the tourist prices and crowds may. Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing places such as La Sandwicherie that offer a delicious bang for your buck, but in most other cases you will need a fat wallet to indulge in any substantial food or bar experience. To top it off, most drinking fountains make you pay to fill your water!  

These financial and transportation obstacles can ward off the lower- and middle-class locals or students wanting to access South Beach. This may have been done to keep the people who typically won’t spend money out of South Beach and leave more room for tourists who will spend large amounts of money. On the other hand, I see another possible motive. There is a large Hispanic immigrant population on the west side of Miami close to FIU. For example, in the neighborhood of Sweetwater, less than 25 percent of the population are US-born citizens (Sweetwater Demographics). Where the Metrorail connects, for example in the neighborhood of Dadeland which is an equal distance from South Beach, 57 percent are US-born citizens (Downtown Dadeland). Whether or not this was intentional, there are inequalities in accessibility.

After learning about the history of South Beach, there are parallels between today’s accessibility struggles and those that existed long ago. Profit has been the goal of South Beach ever since it began. The iconic art deco buildings were made to be three levels and therefore, the expense of an elevator could be eliminated. These buildings that line Ocean Drive have been protected, by virtue of Barbara Baer Capitman, but they are a part of the tourism sector now. Another way to drive up profit in the past was to make it more desirable, and the way to do that was preventing the hard-working African Americans and Jewish people from accessing South Beach (Bailly). 

Although the preference for tourism in South Beach supports the economy, there is a sense of disrespect towards the people who live and pay taxes there. In 2021, Miami-Dade county released a report claiming that “The over 1.5 million immigrants that call Miami-Dade home are the lifeblood of the county’s economy”(Jaramillo). This shows that there is no reason why locals, especially the immigrants shouldn’t have priority to access South Beach. Like many high-touristed locations around the world, Miamians are left as victims of overtourism and may now hold a negative opinion of this beautiful neighborhood as a result. 

Works Cited

Bailly, John William. “South Beach.” Edited by John William Bailly and Sofia Guerra, Bailly Lectures, 24 Aug. 2022, baillylectures.com/miami/south-beach/ 

“Downtown Dadeland Demographics.” Point2, Point2, www.point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/FL/Downtown-Dadeland-Demographics.html 

Jaramillo, Natalia. New Research Shows Immigrants Play an Outsized Role in the Local Economy and Make Miami-Dade Thrive. Miami-Dade County, 25 Aug. 2021, http://www.miamidade.gov/releases/2021-08-25-mayor-onareport-release.asp.

“Sweetwater Demographics.” Point2, Point2, http://www.point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/FL/Miami-Dade-County/Sweetwater-Demographics.html

Deering Estate as Text

“One Decision” by Jane Osowski at the Charles Deering Estate in Miami on November 16, 2022.

Photos taken by Jane Osowski, Niko Lund-Hansen and Marco Lund-Hansen // CC by 4.0

A popular medical doctor, Zach Bush, M.D. repeatedly encourages us for our health, “If you do one thing today let it be this: breathe as many diverse environments as you can” (Bush 00:00-00:05). And that was exactly what we did today at the Deering Estate. Charles Deering’s estate stretches over 8 different natural ecosystems, a diversity surprising to be found so close to the city of Miami. Miami is known for sand beaches and coconut trees today but those are the least native aspects of the South Florida environment.

We began the trek by entering a secluded path into the hardwood hammock. The disorder of this ecosystem was hypnotizing. Poisonwood trees and poison ivy lined the path keeping us from straying far from what we were allowed. Solution holes kept us focused on the earth in front of us. Within this maze of trees and bush lie treasures of past civilizations. We discovered caves, old tools and remnants of bones. What we don’t see too much in Miami is this unstructured natural growth nor unremoved historical sites. We tend to see landscape architecture such as palm trees in lines and museums keeping our stories. This is the first time in Miami that I have seen a place so natural and authentic.

We had already passed through the mangroves when we arrived at the Pinelands, adjacent to the hardwood hammock. The palm and pine trees in this ecosystem seemed to be dispersed in a systematic, repetitive way, a contrast to the disorder of the hardwood hammock. This alluded to a thought that this location was nothing but a plantation or another design by Miami. In reality, this perfect layout was a reflection of the symbiosis of the ecosystem. 

The sun was low, shining majestically through the pine trees onto the low palms. A flavorful herb scent I’ve smelled before, but can’t seem to name, filled the air. This ecosystem reminded me of the pine-filled Northwoods in Wisconsin mixed with a sandy ecosystem you may find adjacent to a desert. Not a single building nor human infrastructure was in sight. I said to my friend Nico, “Are we even in Miami anymore?”.

We returned to the border of the hardwood hammock and stumbled upon a metal marker sticking out of the dirt. It was a marker for a railroad that was going to be built through this land years ago. As we clearly saw today, the railroad was never built. As a result, these natural ecosystems still exist today. Something so simple such as a decision that reversed the construction of a railroad had an instrumental effect on the preservation of these natural ecosystems in Miami. And because of that, I could step back in history and experience how Miami once appeared.

This beautiful example of the fight for environmental preservation shows us that just one decision can have catastrophic effects, whether negative or positive. Even in preserving other aspects such as architecture and culture we must consider all actions that can alter the course of history.

Works Cited

Bush, Zach. Instagram, uploaded by Zach Bush, 4 November 2022, https://www.instagram.com/p/CkjRqMspCyE/?hl=en

Rubell Museum as Text

“Butterflies of Life” by Jane Osowski at the Rubell Museum on November 23, 2022.

Kusama Room. Photos taken by Jane Osowski // CC by 4.0

Today, fellow FIU Honors students and I had the pleasure of visiting the Rubell Museum, a contemporary art museum of diverse works purchased by Mera and Don Rubell. We also had the pleasure of meeting Mera Rubell herself. We soon found out that she and her husband choose the most thought provoking, life reflecting pieces of art. 

Mera Rubell compares the art in their collection to butterflies appearing in random places. They exist everywhere but show up when you least expect it. This makes you wonder where they came from or why they’re there. When asked about her system to choose art, she responds that she has no system but, “If you’re not conscious and not curious you will never see that butterfly come and go.” The Rubells are special art collectors in that they don’t collect for the potential of profit, they simply collect what they like. 

Because the Rubells have been collecting since the 1960s, their exhibit at the Rubell Museum in Miami reflects different aspects of life throughout different time periods. For example, there is an art piece that is a vacuum from decades ago and other objects such as garbage cans and Budweiser beer which show the labors of everyday life. 

There are pieces that reflect the state of life such as Peter Halley’s Two Cells with Circulating Conduit and Karon Davis’s Family. Two Cells with Circulating Conduit can be interpreted as the closed monotonous routine of our day-to-day lives. Family, which is a sculpture of two adults and a child with antlers embracing each other, is also reflective of today’s society by possibly touching on current topics such as gun violence in schools and violence towards the African American community.

There is also a theme of self-reflection throughout the museum which is promoted by the Kusama rooms. The Kusama rooms are filled with reflective surfaces allowing the viewer to enter the art world. The viewer can literally be integrated into the art piece and begin to reflect on themselves through the art.

L’Histoire du Monde- Le Temps et L’Espace. Photo taken by Jane Osowski // CC by 4.0

To me, the most profound piece in the Rubell Museum is a reflection on the story of life. The Artist-in-Residence Alexandre Diop created L’Histoire du Monde- Le Temps et L’Espace which translates to “The History of the World- Time and Space”.Diop tells a story of man evolving, only to discover that we need to go back to living how we once did before this evolution. Initially looking at this piece, I noticed many objects that I would find on the side of the road or in a trash can. This was in fact where the pieces came from. It’s almost as if Diop is elegantly dropping in our faces the ugliest part of this society we have created: consumerism. I find his message so authentic because he is supporting his statement by using primary artifacts derived from the society he is commenting on. This shows true reflection of his surroundings and I assume that is a reason why he was chosen by the Rubells to be an Artist-in-Residence.

After one walk through the museum, the Rubells have taught me to appreciate art of all forms. I see now that if art provokes thought about life or encourages self-reflection, it should be appreciated. The Rubells have also taught us a lesson on life, not just art. How they collect art reflects how we need to view life. We do not need to seek out our best experiences, they should appear naturally. Because if we are conscious and curious, we will not miss what we are meant to enjoy.

Sweetwater as Text

“Little Managua” by Jane Osowski in Sweetwater on November 23, 2022.

Sweetwater Trolley. Photo taken by Jane Osowski CC// by 4.0

The neighborhood of Sweetwater is in western Miami-Dade County, almost touching the eastern edge of the Everglades. As of 2020, it has a population of 19,000, a significantly smaller number than the surrounding neighborhoods. According to the City of Sweetwater website, 94 percent of these habitants are of Hispanic origin (About Us).  

This statistic is reflected in the character of the neighborhood. There are posters, signs on businesses and even labels in the grocery store that are entirely in Spanish. Walking around or in stores you often hear Spanish music. When I went to Sedanos grocery store, the customers were speaking Spanish and the workers addressed me in Spanish.  

The neighborhood has a strong Nicaraguan influence and is sometimes referred to as Little Managua which is the capital of Nicaragua (Miami’s Best). This influence is shown in the architecture and design of the strip malls. For example, there is a cobblestone central plaza with a fountain typical of Managua at the strip mall on the corner of W Flagler Street and SW 107th Avenue. Most of the shops and some houses have terracotta roofing which is also typical in Managua. 

Madroño Restaurant and Mall Plaza. Photos taken by Jane Osowski CC// by 4.0

In the same strip mall, you will be pleasantly surprised to find the authentic Nicaraguan restaurant Madroño. It has been celebrated in many Miami guides. I found this establishment to be upscale and clean with professional servers. Madroño’s Bandeja de Antojitos “El Madroño” plate as pictured above presents diners a traditional range of delicious meats, sauces and chips topped with nutritious microgreens and edible flowers. If you can’t tell by your salivating mouth, this was beyond delicious and satisfying. I would recommend this dining experience as well as Raspados Loly’s down the street for a frozen dessert.  

Madroño can be accessed directly as well as the rest of Sweetwater via the Sweetwater trolley. The trolley is free and runs from 8am to 7pm during the week and 830am to 5pm on weekends (Transit Schedule). The Metrobus and free Doral Trolley also serve the neighborhood but make less frequent stops and connect to the rest of Miami or Doral. Some spots I would recommend checking out along the Sweetwater trolley route are Ronselli Park, La Gocha which is a cute coffee and empanada shop, and Dolphin Mall. The Dolphin Mall is the largest shopping center in Miami and offers tourists discounts with a valid ID (Dolphin Mall). The trolley will also connect you to a few outside areas such as Miami Intenational Mall and Florida International University. 

Because Florida International University hugs Sweetwater’s southern border, there are at least 5 multistory apartment buildings in Sweetwater housing these students. I live in these apartments and due to personal experience and conversations, most students do not explore Sweetwater beyond the few apartments and convenience stores nearby. This is a shame because there are delicious restaurants such as Madroño right in our neighborhood just waiting to be discovered. 

Works Cited

“About Us.” City of Sweetwater, 24 Aug. 2020, https://cityofsweetwater.fl.gov/about-us/

“Dolphin Mall in Miami.” Visit Florida, https://www.visitflorida.com/listing/dolphin-mall/25316/

“Miami’s Best Latin Food.” Miami and Beaches, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, 17 Oct. 2021, https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/things-to-do/restaurants/miamis-best-latin-food

“Transit Schedule.” City of Sweetwater, 13 Apr. 2021, https://cityofsweetwater.fl.gov/transit-schedule/

Miami Art Week as Text

“An International Dialogue” by Jane Osowski in South Beach on November 30, 2022.

Photo taken by Jane Osowski CC// by 4.0

This week I had the privilege of visiting UNTITLED Art Fair in South Beach Miami. It is one of the many exhibitions this week a part of Miami’s well-known Art Week. From the start, fellow students and I were welcomed with open arms into this art event by Omar Lopez- Chahoud, the artistic director and curator of UNTITLED. We would soon learn that this large white tent on the beach was much more than an art event, Omar had created an art community.

The set up of UNTITLED is very open-air with large walkways and direct contact with the artists or gallery owners. It was quite easy to spark up a conversation as they were “front and center” stationed along with their works. We were told that at other fairs, it is common for artists to keep a distance and not be as engaged with every person who may stop to admire the art. Congruently, we were unable to gain free access to the other fairs at Miami Art Week as students. By being able to access UNTITLED for free as students, it demonstrated that the UNTITLED community values education.

Posted outside of each small exhibition area, there were signs akin to street signs listing the title of the gallery/artist and where they were located. When I looked down one pathway I could see that most continents were represented here. I saw Spain, China, Turkey and met an artist from Peru. Although there were many from the United States as it is more financially feasible, the list of countries went on and on, and they were all positioned so they would be mixed together. 

Because of this diversity of artists and galleries, I can assume that most people walking in can find art that they feel connected to. I watched my diverse group of classmates make connections with artists and their stories that influenced their art. When we stopped at the exhibition for the Emerson Dorsch gallery, I was surprised to discover that there was a popular artist featured there that is from my hometown. His name is Robert Theile and he was born in Milwaukee but moved to South Florida, just like I did.

There was a non-profit gallery, Dimensions Variable, based in Miami that provides a space for artists to create art without the pressures of the market. It was founded and is run by artists today but because it is non-profit, it depends on its diverse community for support. Choosing to include this gallery at UNTITLED demonstrates that the event supports this idea of not only a supportive community, but creative freedom over profit.

In all, I saw that UNTITLED encourages a connection, an international dialogue between artists, students, collectors and the average person. I was able to hop around the world through this art and be inspired by the stories that the artists and gallery owners told. UNTITLED Art Fair should be at the top of everyone’s “To See” list during Miami Art Week so you can join the community and feel a connection too.

Miami Final Reflection as Text

“It’s Not Always as It Seems” by Jane Osowski on December 10, 2022.

Mural by Purvis Young at Northside Metrorail Station. Photo taken by Jane Osowski CC// by 4.0.

When you think of Miami, the picture perfect South Beach Art Deco buildings and sandy beaches come to mind. This is the image that Miami feeds out to the world and the image that the world has come to accept as Miami. For example, when you watch the Miami Dolphins game, they will pan to South Beach when “checking in” on the town. Little do viewers know, the Dolphins stadium isn’t remotely close to South Beach, it is at least a 30 minute drive away.  

I feel that we should be aware of these delusions that are provided to us. South Beach might be the most aesthetically appearing location nearest to the Dolphins stadium, but it is easy for foreigners to then associate the existence of Miami with this one image that is seared into our minds.

The reality is that Miami is much deeper than this one neighborhood on Ocean Drive. It is filled with diverse art, complex ecosystems and people who have stories to tell. The Deering Estate has a family of manatees hanging out, schools of jumping fish and ancient historical sites weaved into 8 different ecosystems. Overtown was designed by the history of notable black performers, civil rights activism and societal racism. Downtown Miami shares stories of Tequesta natives, Cuban immigration and failures of general Dade. Art is weaved into every corner of Miami from the dramatic Vizcaya to the solo sculptures and murals at almost every public place. Clearly Miami is much more than just South Beach.

The most interesting aspect of visiting these Miami locations was learning about who built and maintained them. The early photos of Miami show Afro-Caribbeans and Blacks doing the manual labor for these communities and significant buildings. Yet, these people were treated poorly, segregated and there is not much recognition for them today. Women such as Julia Tuttle and Barbara Baer Capitman also had a profound influence in the creation and maintenance of Miami. Thankfully, these women are now celebrated with plaques and sculptures which is a great step for Miami. Although, I never noticed these plaques and sculptures before because I did not know about them. 

The only issue I encountered when visiting the Miami sites was transportation. Access to the city from western Miami-Dade county takes lots of planning to account for the time spent traveling. If an individual, such as I, does not own a car and needs to rely on public transportation, the travel time can be significantly longer. Once on the western side of Miami-Dade county, public transport is much more efficient with the Metrorail. I enjoyed building my confidence with the Metrorail and even challenged myself to take the TriRail up the coast last week. 

The image I hold in my head of Miami has been forever changed because I was pushed out of my Miami comfort zone to experience these new neighborhoods. The biggest take-away for me is that “it is not always as it seems”. You may think you know a city or what to expect, but there can always be an unknown history or a new amazing location to explore. And because of this, I am so excited to see what Miami will teach me next.

Author: JaneOsowski

Jane is a twenty year-old Florida International University student studying biology and hospitality. She grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and loves to explore the world beyond her home. She now lives in Miami, FL where she is discovering the "real Miami" with FIU Honors. In her free time she works as a lifeguard, enjoys backpacking trips and encourages sustainability through her position as VP of Society for Sustainable Souls.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: