Janelle Ducheine: Italia America 2022

Collage created by Janelle Ducheine: photos derived from Andres Surita -Pinterest and LowellDesigns / cc 4.0

The art of simplicity

The 13th century was the beginning of an era of wealth, growth, and modernization for Italy. While many shared industries, each region specialized and flourished in specific areas. Rome, for instance, traded a wide variety of goods but were top producers for grain and wine in the West.2 The city states that were effervesce under the papacy gave light to dozens of artists, setting the standard for art exploring humanistic themes. The individual expansion of power throughout the city states would ultimately lead to most gaining independence from the Holy Roman Empire near the end of the High Middle Ages. Florence was an especially prosperous municipality and over time has grown to be one of the top fashion producers in the world. The high-quality cloths and textiles produced in Florence would supply to countries around the world for centuries. The luxury apparel has been a common theme for the city since its “rebirth”, the Renaissance. The 15th century marked an influential milestone for not only economic growth but also art and philosophy.   

Renaissance Florence

Although Florence was known for its high-end fabrics and styles, it was not easily accessible to all. “During the Renaissance, creating textiles was extremely expensive and time-consuming, so clothing was often recycled.”3 Clothing that would be torn or too small would be tailored and passed down. If an item were to be stained or damaged it would be reworked for other uses such as pillowcases. This norm amongst natives contrasts the expectations set during the renaissance for the rest of Italy, especially for women. The main aspect of Renaissance female clothing was its fullness; men’s clothing, on the other hand, was often tight and sparse, with the exception of the mantle or top garment.

Women’s apparel. To be able to better understand the purpose behind certain styling/designing techniques in typical women apparel, the standards expected of these women is crucial. Women that possessed “Rounded Body and Full Hips Were a Symbol of Good Health”5. The ladies of the renaissance did not mind having a few extra pounds, it was assumed to be a sign of fertility and womanhood. “ When drawing his piece, Della Famiglia¸ Leon Battista Alberti believed that potential motherhood is what made a woman beautiful. “Thus I believe that beauty in a woman can be judged not only in the charms and refinement of the face, but even more in the strength and shapeliness of a body apt to carry and give birth to many beautiful children.”6 The chemise, dress, and over-dress were the four layers of women’s clothing throughout the Renaissance. With this in mind, fashionable gowns were often tailored at the waistline and generous amounts of textile used allowed for more space to be taken up to enhance the appearance of the hips. A woman’s style of clothing at the time could also hint at the social class she belongs to. Generally, the wealthier a woman was, the more layers she could afford to wear. “A wealthy early modern woman wore at least three—often four—complete layers of clothing in public.”5 Gamurra was a special layer made out of an expensive patterned fabric such as silk or velvet that would only be used during special occasions. “Long sleeves are a symbol of wealth and status, as the extra fabric hinders manual labor” and a “veil symbolizes her adherence to humility and religious norms”5 Additionally, a costly accessory would be used to adorn the dresses and veils: precious stones, jewels, and pearls.

Mens apparel. With the help of social media, people are able to “adopt and move on from fashion trends quicker than before”society is able tosbody and beauty ideals  Clothing trends of this era were strongly dictated by the aristocracy and upper classes. The creation of this art on fabric required a large team of specifically skilled crafts and tailors (includes purse makers, embroiders, leatherworkers etc.) men along with a fast pace to maintain the pace of design changes. The standards that men were expected to have to be considered beautiful or attractive would be to possess a youthful and athletic build. The outfit assembly would follow the same pattern of layering with womens’ clothing. Also, like women, men would wear a long dress-like shirt that was mostly open on the sides and rand down the leg, typically sleeve and collar less. This would be paired with trousers that would cinch out at thigh level and stocking on lower legs. As centuries passed, mens’ fashion became less dramatic and in darker hues. “Men’s tunics, jackets, and stockings were generally tailored from black or dark brown luxury fabrics like velvet or silk. “Mantello”, or cloaks, were also commonly used. To enhance the look of athleticism a snug fitting jacket, called a farsetto, was worn and padding was added to create muscle-like figure under the layers of clothing. “Florentine citizens tended to restrict their attire to basic tones of red, brown, gray, or black-even though luxury textiles were a mainstay of their thriving economy. Florentine men, no matter how wealthy, donned the tunics and caps of middle-class merchants.”6

Honorable Mention

Located at the headstream of the Adriatic Sea, Venice was conveniently established in an ideal position to open trade with neighboring city states and other countries throughout all of Europe. Although initially starting off with maritime commerce which included local products such as fish and salt, it quickly grew to include goods from other nations becoming the entrepôt between all of Europe, Middle East, and Asia. Trade between Florenece and Venice allowed for goods to be transported to a wider clientele pool. By the mid-15th century, Italy was deemed one of the most prosperous units in all of Europe. This is largely due to the powerful noble families that were involved in not only trade but also other important industries such as the art or architecture. Because these noble families possessed lineage to an individual that reached consulship or were owners of major trade, they were able to make many of the important decisions involving the livelihood of the nation. One of the most renowned being the Medici family, “were wool merchants and bankers. Both businesses were very profitable, and the family became extremely wealthy.”7 They contributed to the growth of Florence by funding the arts and humanism. They have hired numerous artists, like Leonardo da Vinci and Brunelleschi, to paint or serve as consults on major projects throughout the city.

Modern America

Especially in the age of technology, fashion is an upbeat and fast paced industry, meaning that a specific style will usually not last long before it is considered “out of season”. This, along with political/social movements that have granted more rights and independence have shaped how women of the American society decide to dress. Because it is considered the melting pot of cultures, defining a specific trend would include many cultural variables. Technology and social media have fueled false standards people believe about how bodies should. Treadmill reviews conducted an interview on ideal female body types. “The ideal woman would be nearly 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weigh under 130 pounds, with a 26-inch waist.”8  This would be considered an average height petite woman. Most woman, however, do not fit this category. In fact, because of the alarming rate of malnutrition present within the country, “85% of Americans Suffer from Malnutrition Without Even Knowing It.”9 Nonetheless, similarities in trends arise and can be analyzed through many groups, especially during the 90s.

Womens apparel. “More recently, in the late 20th century, thin, waif-like models filled the pages of fashion magazines. Now, shapely backsides are celebrated with “likes” on social media.”10 To be considered beautiful women had to portray unhealthy characteristics such as being extremely frail to the point where protrusion of bones was present as well as being really tall. In the 1990s, fashion sparked a youth uprising by providing carefree looks with a touch of defiance. The decade’s primary trends were rough and minimalist, with hip-hop and “schoolgirl” fashions also popular. This time period was highly obsessed with denim apparel. Flared or wide leg denim pants were a statement piece and was highly favored. Shoes during this era were heavy set and bulky, which regardless of change of outfit would be match with. Hip-hop fashion was also popular during this time. Characterized by oversized/loose fit, casual materials, and athletic features, and was popular in metropolitan areas. The style was inspired by the same-named musical genre.


Men’s apparel. In 2011, Treadmill Reviews (2011) conducted a survey amongst 1000 Americans on their ideal body type based on gender. “the ideal man would be just over 6 feet tall and weigh 187 pounds.”13. Style for men during the 1990s followed a similar trend when compared to women, the main difference being dramatically oversized. A popular sub style that many men followed would be grunge, a casual and simple approach. The Grunge style of the 90s embodied the “anti-fashion” mentality. It is among one of the most popular trends of the decade, giving fashion an edgy revamp. The comeback of the style to mainstream attention has been apparent on the streets and on the runway. Classic grunge staples arranged, from ripped jeans and loose tees to plaid shirts and layered slip dresses. “Guys embracing a grunge style need wardrobe pieces like flannel shirts, ripped jeans, combat boots, Converse shoes, band shirts, leather jackets, cardigans, denim tops, and beanies.”11 Windbreakers and graphic tees were staple pieces of 90s men choice of clothing.


            People originating from different countries and eras will have different customs and beliefs, but history has proved that humans tend to repeat their actions just in new ways. Though difference in style of clothing between Florentine Renaissance and the 1990s is major, yet still contain similarities. For example, the use of a “camica” is the same as modern day undershirts. Or also “statement sleeves” key When Florentine citizens render their clothing as useless, they are able to find a new purpose for the material. Individuals born in the 1990s have also repurposed their clothing through thrift stores, clothing stores that bought and sold used clothes. This was an efficient way to clean out one’s closet while maintain clothing that was trendy. Native Florentians and “90s babies” share a common theme in styling, simplicity. The people of Florence maintained a public humility and refrained from splurging in luxury apparel despite being a major textile export producer shipping worldwide. The style in the 90s also place shifted importance away from top-flight brands and more emphasis on the overall presentation of the outfit. Although many big-name brands did thrive, such as Champion and Reebok experiencing major economic growth.


            Dubbed the name “birthplace of the renaissance”, Florence, Italy during the 15th century experienced centuries worth of societal enrichment through the arts, economic avenues, and ideology. This was due to the advanced trade network between the city states with other countries and powerful families such as the Medicis’ that funded many of these artistic excursions. The city grew in popularity as a crossroads for wool merchants in the high Middle Ages. Giovanni and Cosimo de Medici utilized banking to turn Florence into a financial crossroad. Florence became a junction for ideas as a result of these linkages. “in fact, one of the three most important regions that supplied good- to high-quality wool-based textiles to much of Christian Europe and to the Islamic world in the Mediterranean basin and the Near East during the” (Munro, 2012). The success of the city alone was not enough to have the native Florentines stray away from their values and respect for their homeland, though. American 90s fashion trends followed the same concept in the sense of not choosing outlandish outfits but wearing mostly simple patterns. These styles were attained in similar sustainable ways as to reduce the amount of waste is produced. There are many factors that contribute to why these two time periods are so different, body and beauty standards being one of the main ones. Yet regardless of background, traces of Italy can still be found even in seemingly different cultuers, such as fashion.


1 Foot, John , Cessi, Roberto and Cosgrove, Denis E.. “Venice”. Encyclopedia Britannica,  https://www.britannica.com/place/Venice. Accessed 23 April 2022.

2 adminWebsite, Admin. “What Did the Roman Empire Trade.” Lisbdnet.com, 9 Dec. 2021, https://lisbdnet.com/what-did-the-roman-empire-trade/#What_Did_The_Roman_Empire_Trade.

3 Lanes, Eagle. “Month: Last Updated Mar 5, 2019: Published on Jan 16, 2018.” Fashion History Timeline, https://fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/2018/01/.

4 Guidato, Enrica. “Florence: The Art of Fashion.” The Florentine, 15 Oct. 2008, https://www.theflorentine.net/2008/10/16/florence-the-art-of-fashion/.

5 Sydel, Simone. “The Weird and Dangerous Beauty Standards of Renaissance Italy.” Evie, https://Images.ctfassets.net/ydv6sq0kb5bw/VPXcVUzPNoYjdNmMuwo8m/a2be598830e9b26d963308c6e3cab05b/Evie-Logo.png, 4 Nov. 2021, https://www.eviemagazine.com/post/the-weird-and-dangerous-beauty-standards-of-renaissance-italy.

6 Web Marketing, SEO. “Aboutflorence.com.” Economy of Florence, http://www.aboutflorence.com/economy-of-Florence.html.

7 “Renaissance.” Ducksters, https://www.ducksters.com/history/renaissance/medici_family.php.

8 Web Marketing, SEO. “Aboutflorence.com.” Economy of Florence, http://www.aboutflorence.com/economy-of-Florence.html.

9 Hill, Jay. “85% Of Americans Suffer from Malnutrition without Even Knowing It. Are You One of Them?” Lifehack, 2 Nov. 2016, https://www.lifehack.org/486617/85-americans-suffer-from-malnutrition-without-even-knowing-are-you-one-them.

10 Howard, Jacqueline. “The History of the ‘Ideal’ Woman and Where That Has Left Us.” CNN, Cable News Network, 9 Mar. 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/07/health/body-image-history-of-beauty-explainer-intl/index.html.

11 Dek, Chris. “90s Fashion for Men: How to Wear 90s Outfits for Guys.” Top Trends Guide, 22 Apr. 2022, https://www.toptrendsguide.com/90s-fashion-men/.

12 Sydel, Simone. “The Weird and Dangerous Beauty Standards of Renaissance Italy.” Evie, https://Images.ctfassets.net/ydv6sq0kb5bw/VPXcVUzPNoYjdNmMuwo8m/a2be598830e9b26d963308c6e3cab05b/Evie-Logo.png, 4 Nov. 2021, https://www.eviemagazine.com/post/the-weird-and-dangerous-beauty-standards-of-renaissance-italy.

13 “Building the Perfect 3D Body.” TreadmillReviews, 23 Feb. 2022, https://www.treadmillreviews.net/building-the-perfect-body/.

Butchart, Amber. “The Art of Power Dressing in Renaissance Florence.” Frieze, 4 June 2019, https://www.frieze.com/article/art-power-dressing-renaissance-florence.

“Venice, the Doges and the House of Mocenigo.” CoinsWeekly, 19 June 2019, https://coinsweekly.com/venice-the-doges-and-the-house-of-mocenigo/.

Munro, John H. “ The Rise, Expansion, and Decline of the Italian Wool-Based Cloth Industries, 1100–1730: A Study in International Competition, Transaction Costs, and Comparative Advantage.” University of Toronto, 2012.

Petrucci, Lorenzo. “House of Pung.” An Overview of Men’s Clothing in Northern Italy c. 1420 – 1480 as Reconstructed by Master Lorenzo Petrucci, http://www.houseofpung.net/sca/15c_mens_italian.pdf.

Janelle Ducheine: Italia as Text 2022

Photo taken by Emma Cairo @ Roman Forum 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.

Rome as Text

Me and my woman-ly body” by Janelle Ducheine of FIU at The Capitoline Museum on May 12, 2022.

Photo taken by Janelle Ducheine @ Capitoline Museum cc 4.0

Being born and raised in Miami, I have never been scared to show parts of my skin. The suffocating temperatures year round wouldn’t allow me to be fully covered without nearly fainting. I grew up wearing mini shorts and crop tops, and never thought much of it, especially since my own mother and other female relatives encouraged it. The youth in my community also followed this trend, despite most of the US having unsolicited opinions about woman’s apparel. Of course, every now and then there would be the occasional intense stare of a perverted older man or the passive aggressive comment from a “prude” woman, but it wasn’t something I haven’t learned to overcome. Through this, I was able to become comfortable with my own body and accept it for it’s perks and flaws. So coming to Italy, it was only natural that my choice in clothing matched my habits. 

Yet by the end of my first day there, I felt like I made the wrong choice. 

I was greeted with similar temperatures and assumed the locals would have a similar ideology. But I was gravely mistaken. As we explored the various cities, it was evident that i was a foreigner. 

Roman culture includes the acceptance, celebration, and normality of the female body. This was evident in many of the historic sites we visited. Like the room dedicated to Venus at the Capitoline Musuem. The placement in the center of the room and pose of the sculpture showcases her innocence and beauty in its purest form. Her stance slightly covered her intimate areas insinuating that she isn’t being excessively open, but comfortable in her image. I assumed, if the history of Rome is based on accepting and living in your body and sexuality, the people of Rome should be the same way right? Wrong. 

I was instead welcomed by estranged and curious stares by adults and children alike. Women often seemed disgusted, men stoped and gawked in the middle of the streets, and children were confused. And all I wore out of the “norm” was a cropped shirt. Me peers and I were instantly uncomfortable, especially after the rate of being catcalled were dramatically increased. 

The people of Rome in fact did not typically follow the pattern as their ancestors as I assumed. Despite the heat, they were mostly covered. I didn’t even see many natives wear regular shorts or tank tops. The most skin that would be shown would be when women wore dresses, the shortest being right above the knee. 

Seems like the people of Miami take on more ancient Roman traits (in terms of their bodies) than many current Italians. 

Pompeii as text

Forgotten city” by Janelle Ducheine of FIU at Pompeii on May 16, 2022.

Photos and collage taken by Janelle Ducheine @ Pompeii cc 4.0

The eruption of mount Vesuvius is easily one of the most horrific tragedies in the history of Italy. At the time, Pompeii was one of the newer acquired territories of Rome, under its reign for less than 200 years. Although it was small, it was a prosperous city that was a hub for the production of fish sauce. Ironically, the city did not receive aid from the Roman government at the time of the explosion despite its economic success. From a political point of view, it makes sense to choose the more important subject at the time, which was the construction of the colosseum. But from a economic point of view , it does not coincide with their ideals they were trying to spread. The Roman Empire went through a phase of constant expansion, they conquered many countries all throughout Europe in search for financial advances. Pompeii, once conquered, was tending to this standard fluently. The complete disregard of the well-being of its people likely made a significant Impact on the economic well-being of the empire.

Before the fall of Pompeii, the city was well advanced in many fields making day to day activities simpler, many of which are still used today. The concessions stand where food was made and kept warm is a modern day stove. The reflective stones on the ground are now todays’ road lights. Many modern day individuals, especially Americans, would like to consider themselves the original creatives to their work when I’m reality it is the rework of something from the past.

Assisi as text

Green Thumb” by Janelle Ducheine of FIU at Pompeii on May 23, 2022.

Photo taken by Janelle Ducheine @ Tivoli

Home to a couple thousand people, Assisi is seemingly trapped in the medieval era. The compact stone homes reflect how locals were and currently still are living in close proximity with each other. Due to the size of the town, it does not dominate a specific industry and typically generates profit during tourist seasons. But even then, locals still have to be extremely self sustainable to be able to manage. The nature of this town has remained constant throughout the majority of its history, and because of this was able to foster one of the greatest revolutions to the Christian world.

St. Francis of Assisi was able to save the Catholic Church from its lineage of corruption, and spread the true word of Christ for all to hear in a welcoming manner.

One of his main teachings involved recognizing man as not the owners of the earth but rather the care takers of the land. He is most known for preaching to birds, since they too are also gods creatures, although his sermons were not limited to only birds but also fish and rabbits. This ideology is the stepping stone to modern ecological restoration and preservation. Countries worldwide have sites and national parks in efforts to maintain the natural setting of the earth. There are even big corporations and organizations such as PETA that fight for the well-being of animals. When referencing towards ending the cruelty of factory farming animals they explained it would result in “healthier living for you together with compassion for God creatures”. This is directly a result of St. Francis recognizing the equal importance of animals and land.

– “Animals Are Not Ours.” PETA, http://www.peta.org/media/psa/compassion-gods-creatures-030. Accessed 24 May 2022.

Pisa as text

Wonders uncovered ” by Janelle Ducheine of FIU at Pisa on May 25, 2022.

Photo taken by Janelle Ducheine @ Leaning Tower of Pisa

Famously known for the leaning tower,
Granting mankind beauty, knowledge, and bower
The city however is richer in culture
Although taken advantage by the notorious kultur
Rich in maritime export,
But berated by socio/political sport

Tis the Birthplace of a rowdy kid, lacking attention in the church
Whom unlocked the basis of science through his research
defining and defying the laws of gravity to his students,
Assuring his discovery using his factual influence

The ease of Arabic numbers is a fact Fibonacci realized,
A universal rule on mathematics was idealized
Reoccurring patterns in nature he uncovered,
But was it created or discovered?

Holy baptistery filled with satisfying soulful sounds,
Sheltering believers within it’s bounds
A holy temple only small in size while large in pride,
Catching the attention of visitors world wide

The tower itself was a great mystery to all,
Wondering how is it that it did not fall
Its structure being altered as centuries fly past,
Is exactly how Pisa’s identity was amassed

Florence as text

Unplanned parenthood” by Janelle Ducheine of FIU at Florence on May 29, 2022.

Photo taken by Janelle Ducheine @ Mueso Degli Inocente

Often times, the things that interest me most or that I learn from the most are from situations that I least expect. Therefore, on one of my free days I spent it solo exploring the gorgeous Tuscan city of Florence. No set destination or time limit, I allowed myself to move to whatever space drew my attention. At one point I encounter a vast open plaza, at one end was a museum named “Museo degli Innocenti”. I curiously walked in and was surprised by murals of childlike drawings at the entrance. Turns out, it is a orphanage-turned-museum from the 15th century. At the time there were only 2 locations that took in children. Because of this scarcity, by the second year they already housed and cared for over 1000 children. They were nurtured and taught by wet nurses and nuns. During and after they took in children anonymously, they took extensive notes on the children, their health, and even whatever objects/notes/etc they came in with. Over the years they became avid in advocating for the rights and well-being of children, single mothers, and families in the region. Although not in business currently, their guidelines and standards of care was a direct reflection of the UNESCO rules, proving their genuine care for primarily abandoned youth.  

Florence as text

More than meets the eye” by Janelle Ducheine of FIU at Florence on June 2, 2022.

Photo taken by Janelle Ducheine @ Cinque Terre trail

From at least a new travelers’ perspective, the lush environment of cinque terre is the sole attraction of the small towns. From the medieval style architecture, the infinite shades of green and blue, or the warm interactions between locals. Of course this location would be a hotspot for many tourists and considered a UNESCO world heritage sight. But to say that is the only reason would be an oblivious assumption. 

The history behind these towns is rich and distinct, especially when compared to sister towns such as Levanto. It isn’t blatantly obvious for the world to see however, uncovering it’s roots requires hiking shoes, stamina, and ample amounts of water. Throughout each of the five towns (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore) there are many religious spaces and temples that pilgrims would hike and pray at while on a religious journey. An important stop would be the Santuario de Savonarola, worshipping an important figure during the renaissance that unapologetically fought corruption in the church. 

Many religious subgroups also settled into the land, one of the more commonly known being the capucin. These are a group of monks that dedicate their life and body to prepare their souls for the afterlife. Behind the chapel was a cemetery with dates as far back the mid 1800s. This is located at the very top of steep hill in Monterosso, overlooking the four other towns. 

While not noticing the breathtaking views of nature in cinque terre, the chapels underneath reveal how the cities came to be. 

Venice as Text

More than meets the eye” by Janelle Ducheine of FIU at Venice on June 2, 2022.

Photo taken by Janelle Ducheine @ Venice

A people infamous for their dominance at sea,

Gained their expertise because they had to flee

Land they cultivated and called their home,

Were where barbarians took advantaged and roamed

The Islands were built from crafty materials they find,

Turned out to be a huge economic gold mine.

To complete the city a religious centerpiece was sought,

From the muslims’ Saint Mark’s body was hidden and brought

For many years, the cluster of islands grew in clout,

Until a neighboring country found a new route.

To bypass the main intersection between cultures,

After the same riches they took like vultures.

Much like the rest of the peninsula believing in religion,

But not using the same rules creating great division.

The pope displeased and demanding obedience,

Locals ignoring and embracing their deviance

The lack of space making a lack of roads,

Leading to intricate waterways meeting at nodes

Skilled gondoliers understanding the emotions of waves,

Costly fares for rides they gave

The old city thought to be sinking,

Centuries worth of history, art, and pride is risking

Although prime of city is a piece of the past,

The influence of Venice can not be surpassed

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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