Jaslyn Gorina: Miami as Text 2023

Jaslyn at Little Hen by Jaslyn Gorina// CC by 4.0

Jaslyn is a junior at FIU and is part of the wonderful honors college. She is a biology and interdisciplinary major and on a pre-med track. She loves soccer, animals, and nature. She is deeply interested in all things medicine and is still planning post grad life. She hopes to use her compassion and knowledge to heal people in the future.


“Preparing For New Adventures”

Zodiac dome roof of Chicago cultural center 15 August 2021. Photo by Jaslyn Gorina // CC BY 4.0

As we start the first part of one of the most amazing experiences, I am excited for what’s to come. I have never been so anxious and eager to be somewhere. I know the trip will come and go fast but I am already enjoying and learning more about the culture of my home. I am in this class to hopefully find a culture in Miami not based on stereotype but based on its actual origin and influences. Italy has influenced many realms across the globe, fashion, food, wine, religion, and government. It is something that we see here in Miami too. I am motivated to make this class and this trip a life altering experience. I am nervous for the obstacles ahead, as I know this will take a physical and mental toll on me, but I know it will lead to personal growth in the end. I’m going into Italy knowing that it is one of the most beautiful and historical countries in the world (with some amazing food too). When I think of Italy, I think of a both modern but simple country. Italy (romans) was the birth of democracy. A system I respect and see/participate in on a government and personal level. I think of Italy’s ancient history and influence on mankind. Italy’s art and artists are probably the most influential and famous, therefore, I think of the amazing statues, art pieces and architecture that it holds. I think of the slower pace people run at and truly believe that’s how life should be lived. I think of wine and pasta and fresh air. I think of no AC and expensive water :(. I think of the coast and its beautiful waters. I know Italy has a lot to offer and I hope to be able to learn from the people and the country and professor Bailly ;). I have dreamed about traveling to Europe since I was young, but I’ve always been infatuated with Italy. My aunt lived there for years while I was growing up and would always bring back amazing gifts and stories about the country. I was supposed to travel to Italia after graduating high school, but my chance was struck down due to covid. I never got the opportunity to go again until now! Last summer my sister made this voyage and has filled me with such excitement and hope. I hope this program can help me appreciate a new culture and make me a more knowledgeable individual. I want this experience to carry on with me even when I return back to Miami and still be able to take the information and experiences from Italy in my day-to-day life. I hope this experience changes how I view the world and opens my eyes to new people, lifestyle, food, and culture. Surprisingly, the places I am looking forward to seeing are the Vatican and other historical buildings. I am not a religious person, but I did grow up catholic and appreciate the beautiful, detailed art that it produces. I know these places are not accessible to everyone and therefore I feel very privileged to be able to see these wonders in my lifetime. I hope this trip is the highlight of my college experience and is something that I can reminisce and appreciate for the rest of my life!


“Rome Where You Least Expect It”

Image by G-tech from Pixabay

I believe that the question posed, “Are we Rome?”, is fitting for our current social and political situation. The United States has grown exponentially since its establishment and has military and stakes globally. I think ancient Rome was very advanced for its time and was arguably one of the most important and influential societies of humankind. We see its influence on this day in how we run our government. One of the foundations of the United States governments was the idea that it was a government ruled by the people, a concept originally from Romans and their senates we also see roman architecture all over government building and many roman symbols in our government documents/items. In our social sphere we see roman influence in architecture and art. We still admire and gather to view the enormous, lifelike statues chiseled by stone. Many important statues produced were copies of roman statues of figures bronzed and displayed for all to see. Even the posing and inclusions of the statues almost directly copy those of ancient Rome. Commonly seen are horses, eagles, and fasces. Some ways of life that I prefer from ancient Rome was their comfort with sex and of the human body. Modern day that is something Americans heavily sensor and reject in public. Some of the most beautiful and notable works are those of ancient Rome. They capture the smallest details of humans and create lifelike reproductions of a human with marble and other elements. Since ancient romans did not stray away from sexual nature. I think it produced some of the most breath taking and important works that are seen and used globally. Another aspect of ancient rime that I prefer are the artwork of the era. They used many different materials with limited technology and were still able to create huge pieces of art with astounding detail. Some of the techniques used by ancient romans can’t even be reproduced at the same caliber and quality as the original. I think the importance that romans put into artwork and architecture were the most influential globally and personally the most beautiful of styles because of the precision and detail. Some practices of ancient Rome that I reject are the misogyny and mistreatment of women.  Although it wasn’t the most restrictive cultures for women, they were stilled viewed as second class citizens and were not given the same weight in society. In ancient Rome women were able to run businesses, divorce, and be openly sexual, something that some modern day women are not granted. At the same time women were second to men in society and in the household. They had almost no influence in government and a women’s opinion was silent compared to a man. another concept I reject from ancient Rome was its constant usage of violence to solve issues. I believe, although imperfect, that the judicial system we have developed is a fair way to punish and enforce laws. The people and those in power are all subject to these laws.


“The Miami We Don’t Know”

Gesu church. showing murals and stained glass depicting different ages of Jesus taken 17 February 2023. Photo by Jaslyn Gorina //CC BY 4.0

In this walking lecture we started at government center. A hub of Miami’s public transportation and the center of our city’s government buildings. Although not in the best shape in my opinion there were surprisingly important and beautiful aspects that I learned about our city.

My first surprise was to find out the extent of our public transportation. Miami is known for our poor public transport and many people feel stuck when they do not own a vehicle. Through busses and trains, I learned that I could travel as far as the beach for a fraction of the cost and stress. The first important figure we saw was right next to the government center. A sculpture called dropped bowl. We see the scattered pieces of a fruit bowl. Oranges and their peels and the shattered bowl in where they were once held. This is important because we learned how much Miami values art. A 1.5 percent of a new project budgets must be allocated to art.

As we continued our walk, we were able to see a rare sight in Miami, a preserved historical building, especially one of minority history. We visited both the Wagner house and Fort Dallas. The Wagner house surprised me because it is the oldest house in Miami still standing from the 1850’s. The beautiful history of the home also surprised me given the time period and location in which they took place. The Wagner’s were an interracial couple and faced discriminations from other settlers. There with his family he befriended the Seminoles to ensure the safety of his family and was active in maintaining the peace between the settlers and natives. Fort Dallas’ history was also surprising to me. First being slave quarters, it was eye opening thinking that the same stone we see in the exterior were laid by slaves, and is still standing today. Another surprising fact was the amount of significant uses this building has been used for in Miami’s history. First being slave quarters, then becoming U.S. Army barracks during the Seminole wars. Now these building’s sit is Lummus park historic district, almost forgotten.

Finally, my favorite part of this lecture was visiting Gesu church. Although I am agnostic, I was raised catholic and greatly respect and enjoy the art and aesthetic that older churches present. Walking in my breath was taken away by the stained glass on all walls of the church, each displaying a part of a story of young Jesus.

This lecture was dense with the history of Miami and the many different groups of people that have settled here. I resonated the most with the freedom tower. I am not as connected to my Cuban roots as I should, but this landmark represents such a significant part of my life history and ancestors. My Cuban grandmother settled here after escaping communist Cuba, leaving her family and support system to find better opportunity for herself and her children. The freedom tower helps remind me of the struggles my grandmother and many others have faced so that I could be raised with such privilege and freedom. I am forever grateful to her sacrifices and bravery.


“Religious Imagery: From Italy to Miami”

Painted ceiling showing religious story // Image by G-tech from Pixabay

Classical Rome, Roman Catholicism, Renaissance Florence, and Capitalist Venice have influenced the religious images of the globe. These influences have helped to shape a wide variety of religious artworks and architectural designs in America that represent the nation’s religious history and identity.

American religious imagery has been significantly influenced by classical Rome. Many American churches, especially those constructed in the early 1900’s, took their architectural design from Roman temples and basilicas. This can be seen in the use of columns, arches, and domes in both American and ancient church architecture. Rome has one of the largest Christian/catholic populations as does America. Although Italy has more ancient history, I believe that we see the use of religious imagery more commonly and outside of a church in Italy.

One of the most significant religious influences in America has been Roman Catholicism. Catholic worship in America has always included a significant amount of the use of religious imagery, such as statues, icons, and paintings. Numerous pieces of art feature portraits of saints’, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ, who have come to symbolize Catholic worship in America. Other Christian faiths in America, especially those who place a strong focus on visual components in worship, have been inspired by the roman Church’s emphasis on the use of these images and their importance in religious practice.

The religious imagery in America has also been significantly impacted by Florence. A major influence on the production of religious art in America was the Renaissance period’s resurgence of interest in Classical art and architecture. Grand frescoes and oil paintings in the Renaissance style became commonplace in American religious art. Seen in significant buildings or at religious institutions, The Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, among other religious characters, are frequently portrayed in these works of art in a realistic and lifelike way.

Compared to the other cultural and historical elements mentioned, the direct impact of capitalist Venice on religious iconography in America is less significant. The Renaissance prosperity and power of the city resulted in the production of numerous significant religious works that have been popularized in America. Titian’s “Assumption of the Virgin,” one of the most well-known religious masterpieces in America, was produced in Venice during the Renaissance. These pieces of art continue to influence modern designers and artists in America and how religious imagery is produced.

The direct influence of capitalist Venice in America is less significant than the other cultural and historical factors already described. However, the city’s riches and influence throughout the Renaissance led to the creation of a great number of religious works that were sent to America. One of the most well-known religious works of art in America by Titian, “Assumption of the Virgin,” was created in Venice during the Renaissance. These works of art have been incorporated into American religious imagery and still have an impact on contemporary designers and artists.

Despite these historical and cultural influences, religious imagery is not uniform in America. Different religious artworks and architectural styles have been produced as a result of different religious rituals, denominations, and beliefs. For instance, compared to Catholic worship, the employment of religious imagery in Christian service is frequently more restrained. Additionally, some Protestant faiths’ emphasis on functionality and simplicity has resulted in the construction of churches that are very different from those that were influenced by classical Rome or Renaissance Florence.  Churches in ancient Rome spared no expense or detail, while some in America can be found in a strip mall.

In conclusion, a range of cultural and historical influences impacted religious imagery in America. Due to these influences, a variety of religious artworks and architectural designs have been produced that tie its identity back to ancient Rome. Ancient Italy made a significant impact on religious imagery and contributed to its widespread use.  


“The Historical Party House”

Statue of the roman god Bacchus, god of wine and ecstasy, representing partying taken 10 March 2023. Photo by Jaslyn Gorina //CC BY 4.0

The Vizcaya walking lecture undoubtably was my favorite of the semester. I have visited the house and garden before but still felt my breath be taken away with the detail and beauty this mansion exudes. The majestic home known as Vizcaya, located here in Miami, embodies opulence, wealth, and elegance. The estate, which is now a National Historic Landmark and a museum showcasing the glamour of the Gilded Age, was constructed in 1916 as James Deering’s holiday home.

The architecture of Vizcaya combines several historic eras, such as the Italian Renaissance, Baroque, and Mediterranean Revival. The mansion’s exterior is embellished with elaborate balconies, statues, and magnificent arches. The mansion’s interior is equally as spectacular, featuring exquisite murals, imported ceilings, and marble flooring. Although there was no cohesive theme in the home one theme that it for sure stuck to was wealth. The vast collection of art, objects, and antiques in Vizcaya is one of its most intriguing features. James Deering was a passionate collector who travelled Europe to bring back to the United States a sizable collection. These valuables are now displayed throughout the mansion’s several rooms.

Vizcaya has an amazing collection, but its gardens are just as beautiful. The gardens have various fountains, statues, and reflecting pools in a European-inspired design. The villa’s beachfront location gives views and access of Biscayne Bay.  The garden and home are very beautiful to me because it gives the perfect blend between Italian villa and tropical oasis. One of my favorite features of this house was its ability to blend indoor and outdoor living. The courtyard is full of tropical plants and was previously refreshed by the sea breeze of Biscayne Bay.

Although this home represents style and wealth, it also represents the darker but real consequences of such beauty. Nothing in this house is inspired by the natives and those who labored to build the magnificent home and garden. Contrary to Deering estate and the pillars carved and designed by Bahamians, Vizcaya completely washes out any influence of the native or minorities in Miami. The only consideration that was made with Natives and other minorities in mind was the construction of the moat. The element of the house used to keep them away from the home.

This absence of diversity serves as a reminder of Miami’s damaging relationship with its past and its lack of preservation of native/minority influence. The roots and customs of the Tequesta, Seminole, Miccosukee, and Bahamian peoples are rarely found in Miami’s lengthy and complex past. These groups contributed significantly to the creation of Miami and are responsible for the city it is today.

Villa Vizcaya’s lack of diversity serves as a reminder of Miami’s need to truly embrace its past. The diversity of Miami’s history is what distinguish it from other cities. It is amazing to me that one of the key symbols of Miami completely erases the true history of the city.  


“The Renaissance In Me”

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most notable works of the renaissance // Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

The renaissance was the rebirth of art and literature in culture and is undoubtably one of the most influential time periods in human history. Lives today are still shaped by the contributions and works of this time period. The idea of humanism was one of the driving forces behind this period. People started studying the human experience and displaying it in art, literature, music, and scientific forms.

Some of the most notable features of Renaissance works is the detail to not only the physical piece, but its ability to convey human emotions, perceptions, and experiences. One of the ways that the renaissance has affected me personally was through music. I was trained in piano and violin for many years and learned a lot of manuscripts. I played pieces from composers like Monteverdi in orchestra. The renaissance was the revival of classical music, something I was also very familiar with. Many of the pieces I played were influenced by the renaissance. Personally, the music was able to conjure emotions. If I were to close my eyes, I probably would have been able to envision a scenario for the music. This is what is so beautiful and important of the renaissance, its ability to connect people to the human perspective and have them become in touch with universal experiences through one piece.

Another way that the renaissance has influenced me is my major, biology. Being a STEM student now must have been very different than then. The scientific discoveries and advancements made in the renaissance period are the reason why we practice and learn what we have today. Scientists like Galileo and Copernicus helped fuel humanism movement by helping us understand our universe besides what the church deemed fact. This is significant to me because their contributions led to important scientific techniques like the scientific method. This period shaped modern-day science and technology and is the reason why people explore the bounds of humans and the universe.

Parts of the renaissance that I enjoy are the art that was produced during this time period. The architecture, sculptures, and art produced in this time period are extremely significant and widespread in its influence. In Miami government buildings, sculptures and art resemble those created in the renaissance period. Popular art was also produced during this time. Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Botticelli were universally significant and notable. Their art was extremely detailed, they capture the complexity of human emotion/expression. They also showed both the beauty and evilness of life. Personally, I think that their art is so notable because they were able to get humans to reflect on their emotions and philosophies/morals when they viewed their work. Their art can be found in all types of institutions, private collections, churches, etc. and is significant because people travel long distances just to see their them. They are common names all over the world, showing the influence of the renaissance.

Although the time period produced a lot of beautiful work, the parts of the renaissance that I reject was the large influence of the church and it still being male dominated. A lot of advancements were made during this time period, but almost all of its accomplishments exclude the ideas of minority groups and women. During this time the government was a small group of men and on top of that a lot of ideas were restricted by the church, due to fear of retaliation.

I think that the renaissance was important in paving the way that we create today. Its contributions to society and culture are recognized all over the world and can be seen in almost all aspects of life!


“Walking Into a New World”

Landscape of Italy // Image by Rainhard Wiesinger from Pixabay

Since starting this course my perception of this trip has drastically changed. I feel that I am now more prepared for the trip, but my anxiety has not yet subsided. I am anxious to arrive, just as I was when we started the course. I feel like I am even more eager to get to Italy now than ever. The realness of the trip has set it.  

The fall course has definitely helped me connect and understand the places that we are going to visit. Now when we travel, I will definitely be able to see how my home is influenced by Italy. Another way this class has changed me was making me a more social person. I have made connections with my peers this semester and am very excited to see my relationships grow once we are all in Italy. I expect this trip to influence me the rest of my life, on how I travel and how I learn and appreciate experiences. I’ve always been open to new ideas and cultures, but I hope that this trip helps me come out of my shell and see a whole new life for myself.

I am in this class to get to grow myself as an individual. Although Miami is considered a melting pot, I am very ignorant to what the world has to offer. I am excited to expand my knowledge and experiences during this trip and grow as an individual away from my friends and family at home. I have already learned so much information about Italy and its influence on the world I know, and now I get to see it firsthand and experience a new world in a sort of way. My routines will be broken, I won’t be near anything familiar, but I am seeing this in a positive light as a way to add on to my character. I want to bring a piece of Italy back with me to Miami.

Now when I think of Italy, I think less of the Amalfi coast and a touristy country, now I appreciate it for its contributions to culture and just how influential the peninsula is. I always appreciated the art that we will find over there, but now I can see the originals of many things I recognize back home. I am now very excited to visit Cinque Terre! I am a Caribbean girl, so the coast will be very welcoming for me. I am excited to see the beautiful water and landscape. Now when I think of Italy I think of its dense history, and how that history left a legacy globally politically, culturally, and socially.

I have never been to Italy or Europe; it is going to be a culture shock, but I am accepting it with open arms. My grandmother used to always talk about Europe, telling me how her grandparents were from Italy and how she always wanted to go back and explore. Now that she is older and with Dementia I feel a connection to this trip, doing what she wasn’t able to, and it makes me feel very grateful for my roots and home. I know when I leave Italy I will be sad, but I will always appreciate Miami and the people I have here.

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