Allison Vargas: Vuelta España 2016

Allison Vargas: Vuelta España 2016

Allison Vargas of FIU Honors College in the Alhambra in 2016


Studying abroad in Spain with Professor John William Bailly

“I began to examine the different aspects of freedom in the United States and Spain when I saw La Giralda in Sevilla. La Giralda has an immediate connection to Miami because both the Freedom Tower as well as the Biltmore Hotel were inspired by it.”

La Giralda,  a bell tower of the Sevilla Cathedral, includes parts from many cultures. Stones with Roman inscriptions were used to build the original Moorish minaret before the mosque was turned into a church during the Reconquista.

The Freedom Tower, on the other hand, was used in the 1960s to process, document, and help Cuban refugees fleeing Castro’s regime. The tower is now a symbol of hope and freedom.

I found it interesting and ironic that a tower that is the product of cultural and religious conflict is the inspiration for a tower representing freedom across an ocean. However, in the case of both towers, conflict brought about cultural blending. La Giralda itself is the product of cultural blending, while Cuban and American culture began blending at the Freedom Tower. Although the towers have very different histories, they have had parallel functions in the merging of cultures.

Sevilla’s Giralda served as inspiration for Miami’s Freedom Tower and Biltmore hotel. (Photos by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)


Religion plays a huge role in Spanish history and identity—so much so that it would be illogical, even impossible, to visit Spain and not visit the amazing cathedrals and churches, regardless of your own religion.

The difference in the history of religion in the United States and Spain is starkly obvious: the U.S. has always supported religious diversity and tolerance, while Spain is the product of religious control.

Here is a brief history lesson to explain.

Both the Reconquista and the Inquisition established Christian dominance in Spain. During the Reconquista in the Middle Ages, Christian armies conquered the Moors, and the Moors were driven out of Spain. Spain became united under Catholicism by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, which led to the Inquisition. During the Inquisition (1478-1834), anyone non-Christian, especially Jews, was punished. Later, during the Franco era, Catholicism was the only religion allowed legal status. The government passed laws supporting Catholic teachings, and Catholic religious education was mandatory in schools.

Today, most Spaniards identify as Catholic, but religion has become more of a tradition than anything else. There are still remnants of Spain’s authoritarian religious history, however. Cities like Toledo and Sevilla have a “Juderia” or Jewish neighborhood, although no Jews reside in it. To me, the signs of the Juderia are more like gravestones than neighborhood labels. I personally did not see a single synagogue or mosque that had not been converted into a Catholic church. During my entire time in Spain, I saw only one other church among the countless Catholic churches—a Scientology church.

The lack of religious diversity in Spain stands in stark contrast to the United States, where you may  stumble upon a multitude of different places of worship in any town. However, the U.S. is not impervious to religious discrimination, and it is not unique to Spain. Also, although both countries now claim separation of church and state, religious ideologies constantly permeate politics. In Spain, this separation is difficult, given its history;  but in the U.S. it is notable that religion plays such a large part in a country that has always had a separation of church and state, and that it is even referred to as “one nation under God”.



As I have studied in Spain, I have become aware that the level of conservatism is different than in the United States. The U.S. is actually more sexually restrictive, a reality that was blatantly obvious, especially on the beaches.

At Barceloneta and the beach at Sitges, women of all sizes and ages are commonly topless. In the U.S., topless women at a beach would most likely receive stares and even sexual harassment. In Spain, breasts seem to almost be completely desexualized, and toplessness at the beach is regarded as the norm.

Another less in-your-face, but still apparent, way in which Spain is less conservative than the U.S. is the view on homosexuality. I first began to consider this distinction on the day of the Orlando shootings. On that day, the Real Casa de Correos, a building located in Madrid, hung gay pride flags with a black ribbon on them in solidarity. After seeing these flags, I felt proud to be in a country that was standing with American citizens and the gay community. I further noted the difference in views on homosexuality after seeing several gay couples together. Although this is just as frequent in Miami, I did not notice any glares or harsh looks in Spain. These observations led me to do a little research. I found that, according to Pew Research Center, 91% of Spaniards are accepting of homosexuality, while only 60% of Americans are. Furthermore, Spain legalized gay marriage in 2005, while in the U.S., it has only been legal since 2015.

In light of the historical role of religion in these countries, the different attitudes on sexuality are ironic. It is almost paradoxical that a country so dominated by Catholic and conservative ideals legalized such a liberal statute a decade before the U.S. However, it is also relevant to note that the  Pew Research Center also found that half of Americans deem religion to be very important in their lives, while less than a quarter of Spaniards do. Needless to say, Spain’s societal attitudes have evolved rapidly, and in my opinion, for the better. I only hope that American attitudes undergo a similar evolution in the near future.
A Demon dances in fire at the Nit de Sant Joan Festival in Barcelona. (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)


By a stroke of luck, we were fortunate enough to be in Barcelona for the celebration of the Nit de San Joan on June 23rd. I had never heard of this holiday, or what it commemorated, before. My curiosity led me to a swift Google search. I quickly learned that the holiday has pagan origins, and long predates the introduction of Christianity. It is a celebration of the summer solstice, and the Catholic Church later combined it with the birth of St. John the Baptist. Bonfires and fireworks are at the heart of the festivities; the flames are believed to frighten and dispel evil spirits abroad on this night.

Before actually witnessing the celebration, I expected it to be similar to the American Fourth of July, which I associate with fireworks and bonfires on the beach; so when I learned that the Nit de San Joan was celebrated similarly, I imagined them to be alike. Well, it was nothing like the Fourth of July.

There was no part of Barcelona that did not have people out celebrating. Throughout the city, music was playing and fireworks were shooting. These fireworks displays, though, were like nothing I had ever seen. You did not watch them up in the sky while sitting in awe. Instead, they were detonating right beside you in the hands of people dressed up as devils—odd, I thought, for a holiday that celebrates a saint. Although being in such close proximity to fireworks is dangerous, the excitement and thrill in the atmosphere gave me an adrenaline rush that made me completely forget the potential risk.

Participating in this unique celebration really focused my attention on the differences between the U.S. and Spain; a celebration like the Nit de San Joan could never exist in the U.S.; the U.S. imposes too many restrictions! A celebration consisting of fireworks and bonfires would never be allowed to extend throughout a U.S. city. There would be regulations on the beach in the name of environmentalism, regulations on the streets in the name of safety and noise control, and regulations throughout the city in the name of keeping the festivities small enough for the police to control.

What the two countries do have in common, though, is that they have lost sight of the meaning behind their celebrations. The Nit de San Joan felt like an excuse to drink and party, not really to celebrate St. John the Baptist. Similarly, St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. has little religious meaning and now centers on drinking and partying.

Audri Rodriguez and Yina Cabrera of FIU in Espana (Photo by Vicky Atencio CC BY 4.0)


In no way is either Spain or the United States more technologically advanced than the other, but the use of, and importance placed on technology, is slightly different. Two applications of technology that I found to be unalike when comparing the countries were transportation and cellphones. These two technologies can either be used in society to augment freedom or to restrict it.

Throughout my time in Spain, there were perhaps only two occasions where I used a taxi to commute. On all other occasions, we either walked or used public transportation to get around, which seem to be the more popular transportation methods. This is a pronounced difference when compared to the most common method of transportation back home in Miami: driving.

Transportation in Miami, in fact, restricts our freedom. I can probably count on my two hands the number of times I have used public transportation in Miami, and I am willing to bet that most other Miami locals can say the same. This heavy reliance on cars leads to our infamous traffic problems. People waste countless hours of their lives in traffic, an issue that the average Spanish citizen would never encounter. Spain’s substantial use of public transportation allows for virtually no time spent wasted commuting, as well as an overall more positive commuting experience.

Cellphones are another technology that appears to restrict people in Miami more than in Spain. My reasoning for this claim lies in the observations I made while eating out at restaurants. In Spain, people at restaurants were always fully engaged in conversations with each other, and never on their cellphones. In Miami, the opposite holds true. Back home, it is rare to see people not check their phones at least once during a meal. But cellphones are not the only culprit. Some restaurants in Miami, like Chili’s for example, have tablets on every table that offer games, which further socially withdraw people from what should in reality be a social event.

So when considering transportation and hand-held devices, Spain seems to be doing a better job at using these technologies to improve lifestyles, rather than hinder them.

Guernica by Pablo Picasso is the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid


There is a complicated relationship between conflict and freedom. Conflict threatens freedom,  but it is also sometimes needed to gain or keep freedom.

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica depicts the bombing of that city during the Spanish Civil War. Seeing this massive work of art at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid was extraordinary; the painting caused me not only to  appreciate Picasso’s one-of-a-kind genius, but also to reflect on what it depicts. The combination of Picasso’s artistry and the compelling meaning of the piece makes it my favorite painting of the trip.

The artwork is a universal symbol warning against the suffering and devastation of war. For this reason, a copy is displayed in the United Nations Building in New York. This fact led me to directly link the U.S. and Spain once again as I researched the willingness of both countries to use military force. I found that three-quarters of Americans agree that it is sometimes necessary to use military force to maintain order in the world, while narrower majorities of Spaniards share the same view. Furthermore, when asked whether their country should have UN approval before using military force to deal with international threats, only 45% Americans agree, compared to the 74% of Spaniards who do.

This difference in opinion may be due to Spain’s more direct connection to the pain and horror of war on its home soil. Perhaps the U.S. is more focused on the use of conflict to foster freedom, while Spain is more aware of the suffering conflict causes.

Rachel Young: Vizcaya as Text

“The Vizcaya I Met” by Rachel Young

FIU Honors students at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens © Rachel Young

The Vizcaya I Met
by Rachel Young @hereisrache of @fiuinstagram at @vizcaya_museum

The Vizcaya I met es distinto al Vizcaya que conoció mi mamá the first time she went back in the 90s
I met Vizcaya in mid-February un viernes con unos gran amigos and one of the most influential professors I’ve had
I met Vizcaya with some expectations and was left speechless when I turned the corner and saw the Bay I consider Vizcaya a friend porque sentí como si fuera parte de la familia Deering as I walked through the courtyards and gardens Not only did I feel like a friend of Deering, but I also felt like a friend of el Cubano who was responsible for bringing in the palm trees that corral the gardens A friend of all those who followed orders and garden plans A friend of all those who contributed to the creation of this historical relic A friend of all those who suffered A friend of all those who sacrificed The Vizcaya I met is frequented by Tias y Tios que están visitando los sobrinos It’s frequented by hopeful quinceañeras I know the Vizcaya I met that Friday in mid-February But what about the Vizcaya que conoció mi mamá? What about the Vizcaya que conoció el Cubano with the palm trees?


AUTHOR(S) AND LAST UPDATE John William Bailly & Stephanie Sepúlveda 12 October 2017

Marco A. Linares

Marco A. Linares (Photo by Diana Plasencia CC BY 4.0)

Marco A. Linares was born in Havana, Cuba and was raised there as well as in Ecuador and London. Now he resides in Miami and attends Florida International University where he is a member of the Honors College and is double majoring in Political Science and International Relations at the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs. In the future he aims to attend law school and become a practicing attorney.

FIU Honors at Vizcaya 2017

Poetry Art Community of the FIU Honors College at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens (Photo by Valerie Villa CC BY 4.0)

Vizcaya through Poetry and Photography Join us as we celebrate Vizcaya through poetry and art with the FIU Honors College course “Poetry Art Community” designed by Professors Richard Blanco and John William Bailly.  The evening features Blanco and renowned poets Caridad Moro, Carlos Pintado, Nikki Moustaki, and Michael Hettich debuting their original Vizcaya-inspired poems in the main courtyard. Their voices will be accompanied by photographs of Vizcaya by FIU students. The enchantment continues with pop-up poetry readings by students throughout the gardens as you stroll under the stars and the crescent moon.  Tickets $5. Light refreshments available for purchase.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens 3251 SOUTH MIAMI AVE MIAMI, FL 33129

Details: November 14, 2017 7:00-9:30 p.m. Vizcaya Courtyard 7:00pm – 8:00pm readings by Richard Blanco, Caridad Moro, Carlos Pintado, Nikki Moustaki, and Michael Hettich 8:00pm – 9:30pm readings by FIU students in the Gardens Tickets $5. Light refreshments available for purchase.

The Vizcaya Poems by Poetry Art Community
The Frog Fountain Poems
The Secret Garden Poems
The Center Island Poems
The Grotto Poems
The West Pool Poems

The Exquisite Corpses at Vizcaya Poems

Vizcaya Student Guidelines

Check out Bailly’s study abroad programs
France Study Abroad Italy Study Abroad Spain Study Abroad

AUTHOR(S) AND LAST UPDATE John William Bailly & Stephanie Sepúlveda 10 November 2017

Robert Chambers at Bakehouse

Robert Chambers explains the intention behind the hay installation to the students of ASC (Photo © Lily Fonte)

A Needle in a Haystack: Solving the Conflict Together
By Isabella Marie Garcia, ASC 2018 (

Red, yellow, blue.

The façades of the Bakehouse Art Complex (BAC), located in the Wynwood Art District of Miami, aren’t hard to spot as they boast the primary colors of art. Greeted immediately by Robert Chambers and his staff, I was told I could just wander around until it was time for the Art, Society, Conflict (ASC) class of FIU’s Honor College to begin constructing a structure made entirely out of hay. Mimicking the art studios that popped up around New York City in Greenwich Village and Manhattan, the warehouse of the Bakehouse Art Complex is lined with hallways that are home to dozens of doors and individual artist studios, both local and international. From Caracas, Venezuela and Moscow, Russia to several Miami natives, many of the studios were closed from entry but allowed a peek into the artist’s individual style and work. For the general public, the non-profit seeks to encourage one on one interaction with the artists that are housed in the warehouse and to close the gap between artists and their audience. As stated on their website, “…a visitor may meet and artist while catching a rare glimpse into the creative process of our culturally diverse and talented community of 60 contemporary artists working across myriad media.”

After meandering through the warehouse and its many studios, it was time to begin the installation that Chambers had commissioned to take place within the Audrey Love Gallery of the Complex. Ordering more than 300 bales of hay, which included alfalfa and timothy grass, Chambers explained to the class that the purpose of the installation was ultimately to provide a meeting space for young artists and students in the local area where one could sit in the installation and read peacefully, write without cessation, or even perform vocal work, such as spoken word or poetry readings. Going until the end of the spring, the installation’s hay would then be donated to local shelters and horse rescue farms in order to recycle the hay and provide nutrition to malnourished horses and farm animals. As the name of the gallery, Audrey Love, an art collector and philanthropist, represented charity and an openness with her local Miami community in founding the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami and in donating millions to arts groups around Miami communities. It was only fitting that an installation that was for the local community and would eventually return to those who need it the most would take place under the name of a woman who only wanted the best for the visual arts community of Miami.

With gloves and a very gradual unloading process, students of the ASC class came together to formulate a structure and layout that would not only incorporate openness and unity but also challenge the idea of a conventional meeting space. With input from Chambers, Professor John Bailly, the professor of ASC, and Quinn Harrelson, the 17-year old curator of the current “Collectivity” exhibition at BAC, students went from struggling to compromise on one singular idea to creating an unsymmetrical maze of seating areas and couch-like structures. Even taking inspiration from the crop circles that many believed were the result of UFOs in the late 1970s, students each brought their own perspective as to what to do with the abundance of hay that went from being fodder that sustains to becoming the foundation of a living, breathing space. The marks of the process weren’t unseen, as students left the installation with hay particles stuck to their clothing and hands red from lifting and moving the hay around the gallery. For both the students in ASC and the Bakehouse Art Complex, the installation allowed young learners, most majoring in fields that aren’t related to the arts and humanities, to get a hands-on experience and a sneak peek into the creative process of an artist.

The students of ASC would like to thank Robert Chambers and the Bakehouse Art Complex for extending their resources and allowing us to help create the installation, to Arina Polyanskaya, former student of the Aesthetics and Values course as ASC was once known, for exposing students to the organization, and to Professor John Bailly for encouraging our participation in the installation.

For more information on the Bakehouse Art Complex and similar exhibitions to the Hay Installation, please visit For more information on the Art, Society, Conflict course as taught by Professor John Bailly of the FIU Honors College, please follow @artsocietyconflict on Instagram or visit

Gallery from Hay Installation at Bakehouse Art Complex

Isabella Marie Garcia

EDITORS AND LAST UPDATE Stephanie Sepúlveda & John William Bailly 12 January 2019


Students at Untitled, Art. Miami Beach 18′ speaking to Jacob Nguyen of the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies © Liliana Fonte

Editor: Isabella Marie Garcia (

[voks] · Noun · The latin word for voice

An independent platform for student expression. Using either spoken, visual, or written platforms, students can submit their works or personal thoughts on their experience within John William Bailly’s classes and events, whether it be study abroad or attending the Aesthetics and Values reception at the end of the spring semester. Your voices deserved to be heard and this is where they can echo and inspire other students.

Please email Isabella Marie Garcia,, if you would like your piece, in any shape and form, placed on the VOX page.

steph !!.png
Stephanie Villavicencio looking over Paris, France at the Panthéon in the Latin Quarter © Stephanie Villavicencio

Anxiety Abroad by Stephanie Villavicencio
During her time as a student on John William Bailly’s France 2016 class, Stephanie shares her personal experience of dealing with anxiety as she studied abroad and tried to pass through the challenges it brought during her time away from home.

Natalie Brunelle, Jacqueline Martinez, and Sebastian Villanueva within Chicken Key’s mangroves © John William Bailly

Chicken Key, Canoes, and Challenges by Jacqueline Martinez 
On April 3rd, 2018, several students from John William Bailly’s courses signed up to help clean up any trash or debris that tends to wash up on Chicken Key’s shores, a tiny island a couple of miles away from the Deering Estate property. Jacqueline recaps her personal experience and those of others who joined her on the canoeing and cleaning journey.

abandoned drinks.png
Follow @abandoneddrinks on Instagram and direct message them your findings in order to be featured on their page.

Abandoned Drinks by Anonymous
Started anonymously by a couple of FIU students, Abandoned Drinks embodies the idea of looking closer at your surroundings, and the items left behind by others. Though based in Miami, Florida, Abandoned Drinks accepts submissions from all parts of the globe and would love to see your documentation of the lonely beverages that have come across your path.

FIU Honors students reading their ZipOdes at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens © John William Bailly

ZipOdes by FIU Honors College students
In collaboration with O, Miami and WLRN, FIU Honors College students were invited to write and share their own ZipOdes at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens on the evening of April 25th. ZipOdes, a hermit crab form of writing that is based on one’s postal code, allowed students to dedicate a brief passage to their own home, FIU, or Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. For more information, please go to

The world is my classroom: study abroad to Italy by Anna Tuttle
In May of 2018, Anna Tuttle participated in Professor Bailly’s Honors Italia program. As part of the Summer Sojourns 2018 series highlighting the adventures of FIU students, Tuttle speaks on her experience and the lessons she learned on the trip.

Aaron Pupo, who completed both Spain and France study abroad during 2018, standing on a peak within the French Alps © John William Bailly

Sexuality in Spain: Ida by Aaron Pupo
As one of the many students participating in John William Bailly’s Spain 2018 class, Aaron Pupo presented this essay on the history of sexuality in Spain as one of the final projects for the course, with focus on the LGBT community in the past and present. The essay presents an in-depth look at the culture of sexuality within Spain and how it was and still is viewed.

Sofia Guerra of Art Society Conflict 2018 working on the Hay Installation at the Bakehouse Art Complex © Andreina Nicasio

Jack of all trades expanded; 
Bailly’s mini-army of Artists: 
Creativity Exposed
By Sofia Guerra
Enrolled in the inaugural class of Art Society Conflict, Sofia Guerra reflects on her experience in construction an installation entirely composed of hay bales, and the challenges she faced while working on the project with her peers.

AUTHOR(S) AND LAST UPDATE Isabella Marie Garcia & John William Bailly 12 December 2018

Chicken Key, Canoes, and Challenges

Jacqueline and fellow FIU Honors College students enjoy lunch together before beginning the cleanup at Chicken Key of the Deering Estate (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

CHICKEN KEY, CANOES, AND CHALLENGES By Jacqueline Martinez (Chicken Key is part of the Deering Estate in Miami. Thank you to Jessica Fiallo for providing these opportunities.)

When I signed up for John Bailly’s Aesthetics & Values class, the last thing I expected we’d do is pick up trash in Chicken Key, a tiny island off the coast of the Deering Estate.

I was drawn to his course because it focused on how art, society, and different ideas all connect and affect each other. So when he assigned that task, I can’t say I was all that excited. The debris, he informed us, would go into the artwork Garbage Wall for Untitled Miami Beach art fair 2017. Still, I was both unsure of what to expect as well as nervous to canoe.

My judgment was wrong. Moreover, I’m even thankful that the first time was mandatory, because since then I have taken every chance I could get to go back into those waters.

Cleaning up Chicken Key has been one of the most challenging, gratifying, and unifying experiences I’ve had in my time as a student. But in order to understand where I’m coming from, I think it would be useful to explain how we get there.   

Bailly invites the students across all of his classes. As a result, you’re surrounded by new faces when you reach the Estate. Immediately, we jump into undocking the canoes together and pushing them into the water. This already poses a challenge. You’re surrounded by students from highly varied backgrounds. Neither the Honor’s College at FIU nor Bailly’s classes limit what majors can join. So as you get into the canoe, you ready yourself to work with people of unknown personalities, backgrounds, and views to you. The only thing in common at first is a shared goal to reach Chicken Key.

Natalie Brunelle, a senior in his Aesthetics & Values class, expressed, “as a Biology major, I’m usually in classes where only Bio(ology) majors would be… I have a different way of perceiving the world, and these cleanups put all these different people together.”

It takes 45 minutes to reach the Key, even though it’s only 1 mile away from the main Estate. The journey there involved us pushing paddles against shaky waves under a hot Miami sun, and the occasional scream when we almost tipped over. You have to synchronize your movements, because it only takes one overpowering push to throw a team off course. Despite these challenges, though, there’s a great opportunity to come out of your shell.  

“There’s bonding in all of this. You end up talking about things that you couldn’t talk about usually,” Brunelle added in regards to the journey. She was one of my partners on our canoe, along with a 3rd student who we had just met. I recall our conversations about the Canal+ TV show Versailles, and stupid Tumblr jokes we grew up seeing.

Isabella Marie Garcia, an English/Women’s and Gender Studies major in Bailly’s Poetry Art Community class, attested to this, “I canoed out with Melanie and Steph, two friends from the PAC class. We pulled together to fight the currents that tried to take us out to sea again, especially through Melanie’s experience and excellent navigating. The actual cleanup was another challenge…”

Once we arrived to Chicken Key, we docked off our canoes in one place and tied each one to a mangrove tree. However, I was horrified to see that ours weren’t the only strings tied there. Within the next hour, I was cutting through and untangling jungles of cords that strangled more trees than we could count. I thought, at least the inside of the Key was clean. The sand and trees at the heart of it were far cleaner than they were when I first visited it a year before. This is totally owed to our excursions, given that only our classes are allowed to enter for cleaning.

But according to Brunelle, there’s still work to be done, “Everytime I go, I find areas that are in their natural state, but when you look deeper into the island, you find piles of trash paired together… Before, it used to be big plastic items that were easily seen. Now the challenge was looking for hidden items like bottle caps that are more accessible to animals.”

This pollution builds up easily, as Brunelle highlights, “If you’ve ever forgotten to throw away a water bottle or let go of 50 balloons, 2 of them will end up on this island. You expect [the island] to be clean and beautiful like in the movies, but the reality is that if its untouched, you’ll likely find things that shouldn’t be there. Doing these cleanups has made me aware of my contribution to the natural state.”

Garcia came to the same observation, explaining, “Much of the garbage on the island was either covered in menacing insects or entangled in the natural landscape.” There is a silver lining, though. She added, “…but we managed to get several bags worth of trash, and it couldn’t have happened without each other’s help and guidance.”

By the end of the cleanup, we had hauled about 15 bags of marine debris back into our canoes. And then we began our journey back to the Estate again.

These excursions may only last 5 hours, but their impact lasts much longer.

“To me, this isn’t a resume builder,” Brunelle revealed. “To me, this is going out, doing something out of the ordinary, and growing from it. And I have personally grown from it. The experience will carry on to whatever I do in the future.”

There is a great irony that underlies this all: Chicken Key is not accessible to most of Miami.  It’s not uncommon to go to the beach, but it’s very uncommon for people to see how our actions affect those beautiful, once untouched, shores. These excursions serve as a reminder not only of how we can change our environment, but also to take the strange, surprising opportunities that life can throw at you and make the most of them. For every tangled rope, lost bottle or cap, there’s an opportunity to work together and make our communities a better place. That has been the greatest lesson these journeys have taught me.  

AUTHOR(S) AND LAST UPDATE Isabella Marie Garcia & JW Bailly 14 April 2018

ZipOdes by FIU Honors Students

FIU Honors students reading their ZipOdes at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens © John William Bailly

Odes to the 305 and Beyond by Isabella Marie Garcia (

In partnership with WLRN and O, Miami, the students from the FIU Honors College were invited to share their zipcode inspired pieces at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Followed by an award ceremony for the winners of the ZipOde finalists, guests were greeted by students performing their spoken tributes to their homes or their experience at FIU. Alongside the student performances and award ceremony, guests were welcomed to explore the museum and surrounding gardens and reflect on what home means to them. The following are a selection of the ZipOdes that were read by FIU Honors students during the evening.

“Expectations” by Katerina Cutie (33174)
Dishonor Disgrace Disdain
Makes us feel
How could we live up to it
Will it ever end

“Exist or Live” by Katerina Cutie (33199)
Exist or Live
What makes us
Breathe in, Breathe out, Eat, Sleep, Drink, Release, Exist
Love, Touch, Speak, Listen, Feel, Help,   Hurt, Laugh, Live

33185” by Lauren Falcon
Dear New Neighbors,
Noise travels far.
Last time I checked, Do not block sound.
How about inviting me over?

“Pines” by Isabella Marie Garcia (33332)
the suburban melodrama
wishing to leave
why is that?
this is home
my birthplace

“White Party Time” by Isabella Marie Garcia (33129)
francia italia españa
white party time
j’ai dit
it is time for them to step down now

“Shock” by Isabella Marie Garcia (33199)
six were lost
what the fuck
it was built to save others from street danger
man can’t rule man and more payed the price

“Angels” by Isabella Marie Garcia (33199)
home away from
my suburban birthplace
i’ve met angels in this land of diverse roots
cortaditos con mis amigos para disfrutar de la verdad

“Home?” by Michelle A. Gonzalez (33185)
Foreclosure brought me
Here to stay,
But at least I have my family’s love
Luckily, that’s all that matters.

“What Home Really Is” by Michelle A. Gonzalez (33185)
Café con leche:
Early every morning,
Here’s something I can always count on,
Just like Mami y Papí

“Jacqueline” by Michelle A. Gonzalez (33186)
A great listener
Doesn’t know she’s
But that’s okay because she thinks she’s French—
Currently my only favorite human!

33126” by Barbara Sanchez
Drive through MIA
avoid Le Jeune
but not
to avoid my reality in escape

El Rey’s Pizza
the Argentinian bakery
everywhere lies
my daily does of el cafecito

33199” by Barbara Sanchez
I learned at
FIU that Miami
are very mixed, when a classmate made fun of
me being Pinareiña but plot twist he is Chilean

Daily route to
education, passes me
8th street, where bridge construction existed to provide safety
but instead provided several people pain and final moments

“The Coming of Time” by Richard Suarez (33187)
Time is fickle,
Yet an everlasting
For we do not know the end of this creature
Despite being responsible for fabricating her existence.

“Blink” by Richard Suarez (33199)
Life is lived
Through memories formed.
One moment you are living life filled with happiness.
Blink. In another, you are constructing a false reality.

Gallery from ZipOdes at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

AUTHOR(S) AND LAST UPDATE Isabella Marie Garcia & JW Bailly 2 May 2018

Sexuality in Spain: Ida

Aaron Pupo in Toledo in June 2018. (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)



The long and detailed history of Spain’s sexual culture is deeply tied to the practices and history of its main religion, Catholicism.

Catholicism allows only two sexual behaviors within its doctrine: marital procreative sex, and chastity. This strict understanding of sexual behavior permeates Spanish culture and accounts for the relative lack of interest in research into Spain’s sexual history until very recently, following the LGBT Rights Movements of the late 20th century.

This absence of research regarding nonnormative sexualities is a common theme all over the globe, but in Spain this absence was colored by the close link that existed between Catholicism and heterosexuality in Modern and Early Modern Spain.

This link, which classified same-sex sexual relations not only as socially deviant but also as religiously corrupt, resulted in an equal and opposite link between homosexuality and rebellious ideas. Anyone in Spain who was skeptical of the Church had reasons to reflect on homosexuality, since the church was so vehemently against it.

Male homosexuality (as is the case in most gay histories, female homosexuality was largely ignored, and little is known about its history) thus gained a sort of mystique, and this led to the development of complex, if closeted, queer communities and practices in Golden Age and Early Modern Spain.

History of the History

Knowledge regarding homosexuality and homosexual practices entered Spanish culture through educated artists, poets, and aristocrats who had access to and studied ancient histories, and were rebellious regarding the Catholic Church’s authority. Spanish poetry, for example, has a long history of homoerotic over and undertones, and often art became a covert way to explore these ideas.

Often, the homosexuality under discussion was mainly between adult men and young boys due to the heavy influence of the Ancient Greek practice of pederasty; the generally accepted romantic homosexual relationships between older and younger men.

In these cases, the adult male (the erastes) would partner with a younger male (the eromenos), usually in his teens. The older man would take the position of a romantic mentor, bringing the young man into manhood while also engaging in a homoerotic relationship. While a purely carnal, sexual relationship was frowned upon, and pederasty still involved sexual activity between the erastes and the eromenos, and took the form of a kind of erotic friendship and mentorship.

Arabic and Hebrew Texts also provided access to materials in which boy-love was presented openly and sometimes positively.

Golden Age and Modern Spain

Close friendship, non-sexual partnership, and even love between men was not understood as “homosexual” (a term developed only recently, in the 19th century) or as a cause for persecution in Early Modern Spain. We have no close equivalent for this kind of male-male relationship in contemporary Western culture. In fact, the view that deep friendship between men was nobler and more rewarding than deep friendship between men and women was widely held. This is not to say that their understanding of male friendship was more advanced; any progressive reading of this practice is tempered by the fact that it had a lot to do with sexism, and a disregard for the idea that women counted as whole beings that were equal to men. Under this paradigm, it was only logical that men would seek deep connections with their equals (each other) and not necessarily with their marital partners.

The Golden Age author Miguel de Cervantes actually suffered criticism from contemporaries like Lope de Vega for his mysterious love life. There are records of his being accused of “dirty” sexual practices in Algiers. Cervantes reportedly did not favor homosexuality, but his interest in intense, lifelong friendship between men is evident in his books.

There is also evidence to suggest that homosexual prostitution was a widely held practice in sixteenth century Spain, and usually went unreported to the authorities. A network of gambling houses and inns played host to famed writers of the time, like Cervantes, as well as married men and the rich. Still, at the time, public identification of homosexuality (at that point labeled as “a deviant sexual act”) led to execution. These practices followed soldiers and other travelers to the west indies.

One hypothesis in my research states that sexual freedom motivated a large number of emigrants to the New World.

Spain Today

Spain today is one of the most open countries in terms of its attitude towards the LGBT community, in part due to a liberal backlash following the end of the Franco regime in 1975—within only a year of his death, Spain saw legal action to decriminalize homosexual acts.

The general culture in Spain is one of discretion, with a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach. There is simply not much desire within Spanish culture for people to live outwardly or publicly as homosexual. An example of this exists in the fact that there is no real Spanish translation for the concept of “coming out or “outing” someone.

Ironically, despite the right wing antisexual movement in the United States—for which Spain has no strong equivalent—the U.S. is still the center of the world’s gay culture movement.

This is not to say that a Pride movement does not exist; Madrid Pride, celebrated every year on the weekend after June 28th in Chueca, Madrid, is a massive festival and an example of a more out and proud part of the gay community there. But it is also an example of dialogue between America and Spain, a Vuelta.

As far as Ida is concerned, the main left over in the Americas from Spanish colonization regarding sexuality is a conservative view of it that is tied to the widespread adherence to Catholicism, which was spread during the conquest of the new world.

The epicenter of the current gay rights movement, and of the study of queer theory, begins historically in 1969 with the Stonewall riots, and spread subsequently throughout Europe and Latin America over the course of the following decades.


Spanish Writers on Gay and Lesbian Themes. A Bio-Critical Sourcebook, ed. David William Foster (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999), pp. 1-21.

Ardila, Ruben. “History of LGBT Issues and Psychology in Colombia.” Psychology of Sexualities Review, vol. 6, no. 1, Winter2015, pp.74-80.

Isabella Marie Garcia

EDITORS AND LAST UPDATE Stephanie Sepúlveda &John William Bailly  19 January 2019 COPYRIGHT © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

ASC 2019 at Rubell

marium khan rubell
Marium Khan of ASC 2018-2019 at Rubell Family Collection © Marium Khan (CC by 4.0)

Following their visit to the Rubell Family Collection on August 30th, 2018, the FIU Honors students of Art Society Conflict 2018-2019 shared their voices and opinions through photographs and personal reflections.

Juliana by Kassandra Casanova Luna of FIU at Rubell Family Collection

Sleek blue Juliana, ancestor of my ancestors, play a song of gold for me, tell me your story. Tell me of your creation, sweet Hermaphroditus, winged-love god, are you the chalice or the blade?

Are you woman, or just another piece in someone’s collection, a hobby, a pastime. Are they not both the same? Roman-artwork reject you are not of this time, but not of that one either floating in a space that exists on the second floor of a once ago drug kingdom. You are not royal queen yet you don’t dare be common.

Juliana, tell me of the emptiness in your eyes. What secret weighs down thick braids, ebony braids, color of our ancestors. Will you ever be valid or worthy of more than to simply exist?

Just lay there, Juliana, tortured matriarch I never meant to make you a symbol. Lay there and bask, you’re more than the wax carcass of a woman. You are a symphony of color, you are the resistance– As if four walls in an art collection Could ever hold you.

Classics (De)classified by Sofia Guerra of FIU at Rubell Family Collection

Art reflects the time passed by humans on this earth; the mark of the human. The Rubell Family Collection in Wynwood features a lot of art, but not all necessarily made by humans. Still Human created a platform for viewers to contemplate the relationship of humans with our near addiction to technology and its advances. What will we be in the future? How ‘human’ will we still be? The pieces exhibited ranged from classically inspired sculptures, like Frank Benson’s Juliana Prototype, to modern ideas realized using traditional methods; like Andro Wekua’s Untitled. Our lady Juliana is very classical in composition; she emanates the Greco-Roman Hermaphroditus, but her flesh resembles that of an Acura. She was basically created with car parts and 3D scanning technology. Her stoic classicism is now shadowed by the materiality and politics of the 21st century. Wekua’s instillation looks like something that one expects to see in a contemporary art gallery. The viewer walks into a pink-carpeted, white-walled room solely inhabited by a floating young girl clad in athletic gear. Dormant–yet plugged into a computer. Miss. Untitled is slightly more classic in conspection with her poured and casted metal shoes; the same process used to make bronze statues and ritual pieces well before the AD era. We are at a turning point as a species. We are either going to be erased and replaced by our own technological advances or return to our humanistic tactile approaches. Still Human implies that we are aware of our crossroads yet are already seeking validation as a natural species.

shalenah ivey rubell
(Photo by Shalenah Ivey CC BY 4.0)

Eclectic By Shalenah Ivey of FIU at Rubell Family Collection

Ever since I was a little girl and even now, I have always thought of my jewelry as some of the belongings that are closest to my heart.  Gold beaded bracelets with birthstones, plastic earrings from Claire’s, a Tiffany bracelet given on my sixteenth birthday.  Yet I wonder how would they feel on a table as representation of me? Haunted and hollow?  Cold and incomplete? Brimming with memories?  Chinese artist Liu Chang’s project Buying Everything On You (2009) captured such perplexities in its showing at the Rubell.  His project is the result of him offering to purchase everything on people he would meet on the street, completely unplanned.  What was collected included pieces as intimate as underwear and objects as routine as lipgloss.  Although physical and ephemeral, these items when together held much more than their space.  While walking through the exhibit, I felt the spirits of the sellers of these items.  I felt their desperation and I felt their burden.  In ways, the project felt exploitative and others quite emotional.  It left me with many answers and it left me with a question.

We are skin, we are silk, we are gold.  We are paper, we are flesh, we are blood.  We are love, we are soul, we are fear.  We are tears. We are stars. We are sun.

We are so many things, yet who are we?

by Nashya Linares of FIU at Rubell Family Collection

There is no denying the effect that this piece had on every single person who stepped barefoot on that pink carpet. No doubt about it. The white, empty room against the pink bubblegum carpet was immersive enough to bring your eyes to focus on her.  I immediately felt an eerie sensation, with cables attached to her back and a robotic arm that almost gives off the appearance that she has been engulfed by a world where she is both connected and disconnected. She appeared stuck, helpless, yet her face expression was unbothered. I was at odds with myself

The untitled work by Andro Wekua comments on a reality that we are all aware of, an existence we all very well understand: the emergence of a virtual revolution.

As she hangs by the glass, right in the center of the room beneath the bright pink carpet that accentuates the innocence within her, a last speck of life is seen as her fingers flicker. She can’t escape, she is stuck. She is not alive, or at least she is not living. She hangs almost as a warning to onlookers; as if she was placed there to warn us about not giving in, to not indulge in that world. To not connect and be pulled up to the clouds because there might not be a way back down. No way back to reality.

… or could I be wrong?

Could it be that my reality is slowly becoming more of a fantasy as it smothers away at the wake of this revolution? I have always thought of myself as someone who isn’t attached to a screen; Always trying to see the world through my own eyes instead of lenses. But as I stood looking at her expression, disregarding the restless position she was placed in, she almost appears peaceful. Maybe she is not helpless but hopeful. Perhaps she is not stuck but freed. I could have been seeing this wrong this entire time because this immersion to a virtual world could be the answer in creating something better.

I first saw her and I thought she was imprisoned, but I like to think now that she is free, maybe freer than me.

All those Years, Really? by Tahisha Pierre of FIU at Rubell Family Collection

At a young age, we are told to stay in school and get your dream job. That way you will be able to provide for your family and live in your dream home. They say you will be making over six figures however we are never told about the statistics of how many people get laid off their job. The statistics of how many students graduate college and can’t get a job. This sculpture of Joann signifies how people feel after earning a degree with no job and the people who got laid off after committing with a company for so many years. What is one word to describe how you feel? They all answered “TRASH”, and Josh Kline using a clear polyethylene bag demonstrates to his audience his art piece without having to open the bag. This piece should be an eye opener for companies worldwide, how can you be so heartless to just let go of an individual who worked so hard over the years? However, they do say it’s a cold world, which is why maybe Joann is holding her knees to her chest to fulfill the warmth and comfort she needs. I had a connection with this piece because I am a college student myself. I am aiming to be successful and plan on going to graduate school to earn my masters. But what if years later, I’m in the same position as Joann and the company I am working for thanks me for my services and releases me. Is all the studying and hard work I’m putting into my future going to pay off? How many people will be in the same situation as Joann? Wow, it’s sad to say we will never know.

On Display
by Rachel Puentes of FIU at Rubell Family Collection

Millions of hands clutch at the female nutcracker’s legs and push down. Crack. And another nut falls down to the pile underneath her. According to folklore, a nutcracker represents strength and power. The mannequin’s inner thigh embodies the control and force a woman carries with her. A mountain of nuts accumulates underneath, a possible symbol of frail masculinity. I overhear giggles around me, and commentary on how women can “crush” men. This piece is supposed to represent a strong woman; a warrior against the patriarchy. However, as different hands grasp her exposed body, I feel sick. Strangers peak between her legs; it is the main focus of the piece. The mannequin remains emotionless, and with her right hand prompted open, it seems as if she’s trying to send a message to the audience around her: to stop using her open body as a tool. Women are viewed as sexual objects by men. Like the art piece, women are used for what they carry between their legs. Yet, they remain strong. They remain with poise. And soon, the male at fault will be confronted with a crack.

ella smith rubell
(Photo by Ella Smith CC BY 4.0)

Space Queen
by Ella Smith of FIU at Rubell Family Collection

The piece “Juliana (2014-2015)”, modeled after friend and fellow artist Juliana Huxtable created by F rank Benson is a futuristic take on classical ideals. In the incredibly lifelike use of Painted Acura Xtreme Plastic rapid prototype, he successfully achieved homeostasis between classical imagery and contemporary mediums. The hermaphrodite was long celebrated in the art world as the archetype for the perfect human. They were believed to hold otherworldly abilities and were seen as messengers to the Gods. In roman times though they were seen as bad omens or even as divine punishments. This positive ideal has seemingly disappeared and is often forgotten by the everyday person, though negative stereotypes towards intersex people and trans people still endure. By portraying Juliana, herself being a transgender woman, in the reclined nude and with the hand gesture referencing classical ideals, modeled after famous hermaphrodite sculptures, but giving her modern elements such as acrylic nails and polish and a modern hairstyle and a chrome paintjob, Benson managed to create something that is truly captivating. Juliana, life sized, gazes peacefully ahead, her body is relaxed, yet she holds undeniable command and power reminiscent of queens of past, unbothered and ready for what the future holds.
The Art of Being Human by Diego Suárez of FIU at Rubell Family Collection

Us humans have always been intrigued by how realistic art can become. When looking at this sculpture of a human who is painted as a sculpture, you’re left to wonder, how realistic can this sculpture get and how far will artists go to make it even more realistic in the future? Will there be a point were actual humans become the art? When I was looking at the sculpture, I realized that the paint the artist used to represent the sculpture aspect of the human was more of a metallic grey rather than a matte stone color. I wandered off in my head and came up with my own interpretation that the metallic grey is to represent a “robotic shell” rather than a sculpture shell and that the message behind the sculpture is that even though technology and the digital world are slowly taking over our lives, under that technological, “robotic shell”, we are still human. This interpretation of the sculpture ties in with the message behind the entire collection that expresses how the digital world is taking over and questions if we are still human.

The statue was designed to be standing in a position called contrapposto, a posture where all your weight is shifted to your back foot and your arms and shoulders twist off-axis from your lower body so you remain in a relaxed form. This was the same position it imposed on me while I stared at it’s detail in awe.

ASC 2018-2019 Student Gallery from Rubell Family Collection


Isabella Marie Garcia

EDITORS AND LAST UPDATE Stephanie Sepúlveda &John William Bailly  11 March 2019

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