Luzmariana Iacono is a driven individual in her junior year at the honors College in Florida International University. She is double majoring in Marketing and International Business and is passionate about the entrepreneurial aspect of business. Artistic by nature, Luzmariana recently started her own career in the beauty industry as a professional Makeup Artist with a specialisation in Editorial and Avant-Garde makeup.
Art and Science raise awareness: Artist Lauren Shapiro at Bakehouse Art Complex
An Art lover and enthusiast understands that there is always a deeper meaning behind every project, and even the most simple and beautiful pieces and installations can bring in rather serious and alarming truth. Wynwood is known for its beautiful Wynwood walls and a fun environment to spend the evening with friends and family. Looks can be deceiving though, because the exterior look of the Bakehouse Art Complex is a vibrant yellow and black building yet it transforms into a beautiful working space that tells the story of different artists in residence. I was surprised when I found clay attached to some wooden walls in one of the major spaces of the complex; I was intrigued to learn more about the project because it seemed that the clay looked like corals, and as an ocean lover I was captivated by the idea.
Lauren Shapiro is the leading artist in charge of this project, which more than a simple ceramic installation, it is an initiative to raise awareness to the environmental issues that are affecting coral reefs. She is passionate about nature and traveled around the world, meeting with scientists to research more about the current status of coral reefs: why are they dying? climate change, and ocean acidification are the detrimental factors of such a situation. Raising awareness is one of the first and most important steps to take when wanting to solve an environmental issue and that is why she decided to start this project and ask people from the community to volunteer and connect with reality by molding clay.
Photo Taken by Luzmariana Iacono at Bakehouse Art Complex
The project itself consists of molding clay, which she collected and recycled from different institutions, in the form of corals by utilizing silicon-based stencils from real corals.The idea was to fill in several wooden walls with the coral-shaped clay to simulate a Coral Reef. I discovered about this opportunity through one of the visits with the Art Society Conflict class and I loved the fact that we were actually able to work with the clay and not merely watch someone else give a demonstration. That class was very interactive, and even if I am not majoring in Art, I have always loved to try different mediums to create art and express myself. In this case, I was bringing to light someone else’s idea and not mine, but I was so inspired by Ms. Shapiro’s perspective on the subject that I decided to reach out again. I was able to contact Ms. Shapiro after and decided to volunteer because I sincerely enjoyed the process and meaning behind the project. Upon our first meeting with the class, she gave such a detailed and passionate explanation of her idea, but she also mentioned that due to COVID-19 lockdown the progress was slower than expected but there was still hope to finish by the exhibition date. I understood her sense of urgency, the message she wanted to convey, and I felt inspired when working with the community to bring forward an important message.
Since I enjoyed the process, I researched whether or not the Bakehouse Art Complex offered any other workshops like this one or the opportunity to volunteer in another project; I learned that they offer wheel-throwing and hand building classes and materials are included. Unfortunately they are currently cancelled because of the pandemic, but they will resume with their activities in the future. However, they used Zoom Sessions to keep us connected as they hosted events entitled “Art+Activism” to discuss current topics and further analyze how art can impact society.
I am really thankful for having found this opportunity because I was able to really connect with amazing individuals, artists that have a vision, and work with art in a meaningful way. When Ms. Shapiro was expressing her ideas and what motivated her, what stood out to me was that I finally found the response to the common misconception that Art and Science are two unrelated topics. In reality, they are not because art is not only meant to be pleasing to the eye, but its purpose is also to inform people and it is the only universal language that evokes an emotion regardless of speech barriers. Art is Science’s translator in this case because the project is communicating an environmental issue through molded clay. I would love to participate in a similar project and creative initiative, maybe even utilizing a different medium, but I am definitely looking forward to creating art with a purpose.
Luzmariana Iacono is a driven individual in her junior year at the honors College in Florida International University. She is double majoring in Marketing and International Business and is passionate about the entrepreneurial aspect of business. Artistic by nature, Luzmariana recently started her own career in the beauty industry as a professional Makeup Artist with a specialization in Editorial and Avant-Garde makeup.
The NSU Art Museum is located in South Florida Art Coast (1 E Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale) right next to the amazing Las Olas Boulevard, which is characteristic for its shops, galleries, and al fresco dining options. Thanks to a cultural partnership with other museums, performing arts centers, and music entertainment, the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment Consortium brings joy and a fun experience both by day or by night by allowing people to walk around along the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale to enjoy different activities and shops. There are different parking options around the area including public parking, city park garage, parking meters, and handicapped/disabled parking is FREE for up to 4 hours.
The NSU Art Museum was founded in 1958 and since then it has become the perfect destination for viewing exhibitions that come from all around the world – which fits perfectly with the multicultural reality that is Miami. The museum’s permanent collection was established with acquisitions of American and European paintings and sculpture, Pre-Columbian, African, and Native American art. It holds the largest collection of Cobra art and several strong collections of works by Latin American and Cuban artists. However, the museum was not always this successful, as it suffered a fire incident in 1967 that destroyed valuable artworks by George Inness, Rufino Tamayo and Diego Rivera, which meant relocating the museum. After struggling to find a home base, in 1984 it finally found the perfect place and in 2008 the museum began a partnership with Nova Southeastern University.
From the NSU Art Museum Website:
“The mission of NSU Art Museum is to provide exceptional opportunities to access, learn from and be inspired by the highest level of visual artistic expression throughout time and from around the world, and to engage a wide audience by offering diverse and innovative exhibitions, dynamic education and public programs, and by developing an exceptional collection, and fostering original research and intellectual inquiry.”
What this mission strives to communicate is that the NSU Art Museum is committed to bringing art from all around the world and of different times. Given the variety of art exhibitions and collections, guests receive a full dynamic and innovative experience upon entering the museum. It fosters original research and offers public programs and education to enrich the curious mind.
Coronavirus Update: the museum reopened to the public on Tuesday, September 15. Meanwhile the opening times will respect the schedule, the capacity of the museum is reduced (at 25%) for the safety of all visitors, staff, and volunteers. There are also new health and safety procedures and guidelines, including social distancing, face coverings, enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols. In-persontours are currently limited to smaller groups and upon inquiry; live tours are available by contacting the group sales office or through email.
Museum Hours: The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m – 5 p.m. Sunday hours are from 12 p.m to 5 pm, Monday is the only day closed.
“Sunny Days”:Free Admission the first Thursday of every month 11 a.m – 5 p.m; initiative presented by AutoNation.
General Admission Ticket Fees:
Seniors and Military: $8
Students (13-17) and college students (with a valid ID): $5
FREE for NSU Art Museum Members, NSU students, faculty and staff, and children 12 and under.
Membership Levels and Benefits:
Student ($25 with valid student ID)
100% Charitable Contribution
Includes Individual Member benefits
Educator ($55 with valid educator ID)
100% Charitable Contribution
Includes Individual Member benefits
NSU Alumni Membership ($55)
100% Charitable Contribution
Includes Individual Member benefits
Individual Membership ($80):
100% Charitable Contribution
Free, unlimited general admission
Free or discounted admission to Museum programs
10% discount at the Museum Store & Cafe
Opportunity to join Docents, Beaux Arts, Friends Auxiliary groups
Museum Enthusiast/ Family ($160)
$10 Value of Goods & Services
Includes Individual level benefits
Membership benefits for a family ( 2 adults and children 13-18 years old)
Two complementary Museum guest passes
Free admission and select member benefits to cultural institutions within NARM
$50 Value of Goods & Services
Includes Enthusiast/Family level benefits
Select Miami Art Week perks
10 complimentary Museum guest passes
$50 Value of Goods & Services
Includes Patron level benefits
Special annual donor reception
Priority notice for lectures and performances
Membership in the NSU President’s Associates
15 complimentary Museum guest passes
Collectors Circle ($5,000)
$225 Value of Goods & Services
Includes Benefactor level benefits
Private, guided tours of select exhibitions, collections or galleries with Museum Director and Chief Curator
Opportunity to vote on new Museum Acquisitions
Recognition on Annual Donor Wall in Museum lobby
25 complimentary Museum guest passes
Cobra Circle (By-Invitation only $525)
$50 Value of Goods & Services
Includes Patron level benefits
Members play a leadership role in the Museum’s future, and the events and programs hosted provide educational and social opportunities.
Exclusive invitations to those events and tours of private collections
One East Society Individual ($150) / Dual ($250)
$10 Value of Goods & Services
Includes Museum Enthusiast/Family level benefits
Exclusive invitation to One East Society events and other customized programming for art enthusiasts (ages 21 – 40)
NSU Art Museum has an extensive collection of more than 7,500 works, and it has recently received a generous gift of 100 works from the contemporary art collection of David Horvitz and Francie Bishop Good. The permanent collection embraces culture in all of its shapes and forms (works of Latin-American and Cuban modern contemporary art), and it values the work of several women artists.
Andy Warhol was considered part of the Pop Art movement and was known for using imagery from popular culture and mass media. He began working on this series of portraits of Mao Zedong after President Richard M. Nixon visited China in 1972. This turning point gave the opportunity to discuss diplomatic relations between Communist China and the U.S.
This wall assemblage formed by small acrylic cubes in different shades to represent evaporating dew can leave the viewer perplexed. It is beautiful, but what does it mean? The author aims to explain that touch is a more reliable sense than sight and it has always been the way that infants first approach the world. Starting from the psychological explanation that perception is relative and sight is unreliable, touch seems to be a more exciting and curious way to interact with art and the world around us.
Glenn Ligon gained recognition in 1989 for his paintings that consisted of text coming from literature and other sources. He explores American history, literature, and socio-economic circumstances through conceptual art and paintings. What I love the most about this neon sign is that the initial reaction to it was “this person is an introvert, mysterious” but in reality it refers to abolitionist Sojourner Truth’s carte de visite (1864). Truth was a former slave who would sell his photographs to tell his story, in fact, shadow refers to photography and he was living on that truth. It was an empowering move for him, and Glenn Ligon wanted to tell that story through these neon signs.
I Paint my Reality: Surrealism in Latin America
Among the different exhibitions that will be on view until 2021, this one mostly caught my attention for its unique title and exceptional work as in the avant-garde Surrealist style. This exhibition follows the features works by Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Wifredo Lam, Roberto Matta, Carlos Merida, Amelia Pelaez among others. It is significant to the museum because it examines the Surrealist movement in Latin America in the 1930s and its continued impact today. The amount of imagery showcased in the different artworks is mesmerizing, as they also focus on topics such as dreams, mythologies, magical cultures, and indigenous cultures.
Pablo Cano is known for utilizing marionettes, constructs, and stages them in elaborate performances to represent connections with mythical goddesses, or to symbolize political, religious, and visual significance as it is the case with Lady Liberty and St. Catherine.
Cesar Menendez expresses through art various aspects of his culture by including religious processions of priests and other religious figures and costumes. This artwork might make the viewer feel uneasy and wonder what the meaning behind such figures is. These are aspects of Surrealism and Magical Realism.
Transitions and Transformations
Transitions and Transformations transforms Remember to React, which was a previous installation in the museum. This exhibition will continue to change over the year as new works are added and removed. They all follow the same topic though: time and its changes.
One beautiful lady, with flowers protruding from her head. One interpretation could be growth, new ideas, and the representation of femininity. However, what the artist aims to explore is also issues of race, class, and the feeling of not fitting in. As a daughter of a mixed-racial couple she could identify with anxieties of intersectional identity.
The NSU Art Museum offers:
“Sunny Days” –Free Admission the first Thursday of every month 11 a.m – 5 p.m
At-Home art activities
Art talks and events
Creativity exploration (offering prompts to inspire creative ideas and promote self-discovery).
Alfonso Montero, Miami Resident and FIU student
Is it the first time that you visit this museum? What brought you here today?
I found it interesting when researching different museums around the area, and I thought I could check it out.
What was your favorite part of the museum?
I really liked the modern art exhibits, the Surrealism section showing all the different viewpoints they had. I was not much of a fan of the drawings section but a lot of the pieces were interesting and diverse. The charcoal piece by Nathalie Alfonso was an amazing abstract art and it was a good way to bring some permanent fixtures that can seamlessly blend into any sort of exhibit they decide to put there.
What have you learned from this museum?
Some of the backstories of the artists were interesting. I remembered some of the pieces from the Mexican artist from the 1930’s and 1940’s were interesting because I was able to see the mentality of people based on the era they lived and where they lived in.
Cathy Iglesias, Front Desk Assistant at the NSU Art Museum
How long have you been working here? And what has attracted you to this museum in particular?
I have been working here for a year and a few months. This museum is closer to my home and my other job, it is very flexible with my school schedule and they are very accommodating.
Are you studying anything relating to art? Why is this museum special in its own way?
Not at the moment, but I did art for 4 years in high school and enjoyed it. I feel like this museum is very diverse because we have the Latin American Surrealism, for example, and we have the new art South Florida which allows local artists from 3 counties (West Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami) to have exhibits here now as well.
Given the current situation with the pandemic right now, how many visitors do you receive on a daily basis?
It could be as low as 10 people to 50 or 60 on average. The weekends are more packed, but at the moment we do not host any in-person events, just online, in order to maintain social distance.
Out of all the exhibitions there are, which one would you say is your personal favorite? Why?
As a Latino myself, it would be the Latin American Surrealism because it represents all of us and tells our story through art.
The NSU Art Museum is captivating to the eye of young adults for its vibrant building and “Happy Clouds” that most people post on their social media representing the museum. It is a type of museum that allows people to enjoy their time admiring beautiful paintings, an impactful section dedicated to Constructivism exhibits, and upstairs several art installations capture the eyes of visitors. Beyond such beauty there is a sense of unity through a diverse culture as several artists are represented and each given the appropriate value and importance – Latin American, African, Native American, and an emphasis on women artists. Moreover, time can be felt through these exhibitions as they all come from different eras and showcase their importance in history, including the effect of the current pandemic; in fact, one of the art installations is a live camera that records life during COVID-19, facing a park where people usually play but now it is empty or with a few people covered by masks. This museum is inspiring and it allows you to connect to your inner self and, as an immigrant, you feel understood in the Surrealism section found on the second floor. As a museum lover, I appreciate the fact that there is a balance between colorful, joyful, and light-hearted type of art with history and deep meaning behind each artwork.
Goethals, Kelley, et al. “About the Museum.” NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, Kelley Goethals Https://Nsuartmuseum.org/Wp-Content/Uploads/2015/07/Nsu-Art-Museum-Logo-Blk-v2.Png, 23 June 2020, nsuartmuseum.org/museum/about-the-museum/.
Luzmariana Iacono is a driven individual in her junior year at the honors College in Florida International University. She is double majoring in Marketing and International Business and is passionate about the entrepreneurial aspect of business. Artistic by nature, Luzmariana recently started her own career in the beauty industry as a professional Makeup Artist with a specialisation in Editorial and Avant-Garde makeup. She is trilingual and even if she has been living in Miami for less than a decade, she enjoys the culturally mixed environment and hopes to learn more about its history and hidden beauties through this course.
Deering as Text
By Luzmariana Iacono of FIU at Deering Estate, 9 September 2020
The Deering Estate narrates the story of a culturally mixed past through its two building structures and captivating surroundings. Charles Deering was a wealthy industrialist who, alongside his brother, remained stuck in the United States during World War I without any economic power over their family company.
A lonely mind and soul becomes creative, so he decided to replicate his adventures in Europe by including bits and pieces of culture in every detail of the two buildings. Initially, Samuel H.Richmond had built a pioneer home for his family, but in 1900 an addition to the home was built and open to the public – “The Richmond Hotel” became the first hotel between Coconut Grove and Key West (Deering Foundation Inc). In 1922, Charles Deering decided to let his melancholic state of mind flow by constructing the Mediterranean revival-style Stone House (Deering Foundation Inc). The Spanish villa with Islamic influence was the beginning of Miami. The domes were of islamic influence, the replication of a Spanish mosaic using shells and ocean elements were beautifully placed in the ceiling outside the villa. The intricate details of serpents, seahorse, amongst other creatures in the capitals give off the Mediterranean feeling.
From the outside, these buildings transport you to another era, and once you enter an overwhelming feeling of calmness mixed with mischief narrate the story of Charles Deering. There is a sense of tranquility once you enter the Christian room where two beautiful stained glasses illuminated from behind depict the history of Jesus – back then churches were the only place that were clean and pure enough to transmit peace among the chaos and illnesses that took place in Spain. Regardless of his religious inclinations shown throughout the villa, there was a hidden liquor storage room that smelled like danger – remember the Prohibition era? Well they survived it by illegally storing and drinking alcohol in the basement. Only after the passing of hurricane Andrew, people were able to discover this hidden treasure. Behind those walls and immense garden, between the Chinese panels and furnitures, the steel work on the doors, and the Islamic inspired domes, a story of art and culture is written.
By Luzmariana Iacono of FIU at South Beach, 23 September 2020
Miami Beach, as beautifully seen in the movies and a dreamed vacation by many, is the place where people go to disconnect from the daily worries and connect to their fun, young-like attitude and enjoy the beauty that surrounds them. No one would guess that the way Miami Beach was born would create such disparity between the initial inhabitants of the land with those pioneers, like Carl Fisher and John Collins, who came to revolutionize everything.
Carl Fisher discovered what he named Miami Beach (originally Ocean Beach) in 1910 in the form of a wasteland, full of mangroves and palmettos. He saw the economic potential of the area, and alongside John Collins, they began transforming it into a tourist resort by substituting the mangroves with buildings and bridges. However, in order to achieve this, they needed laborers and black people – yes, racism was palpable – just to shut them out right after all the hotels and restaurants were built. Segregation between black and white Americans was so strict that there was even a specific beach (Virginia Key beach) for them to go to since they were shunned from the rest. When Jews began settling in the area in the 19th century, they were also discriminated against as they were only allowed to live in the South side of 5th street; they even had to live with the reality that restaurants and hotels had signs such as “Gentiles Only” prohibiting their entrance.
Out of this dark historical past filled with racism, discrimination, and exploitation we can now admire different art styles in the juxtaposing buildings. There is a mix between Mediterranean revival, MiMo architectural style, and Art Deco and they would not be able to be admired now if it were not for the activist and preservationist Barbara Baer Capitman. “South Beach’s Art Deco neighborhood was the nation’s first 20th century National Historic District” (Professor Bailly, 2020, https://johnwbailly.com/lectures/south-beach-walking-tour/). In the 1980’s, artists, activists, and preservationists fought in order to prevent money-driven business people and visionaries from erasing years of art and culture from the land with more skyscrapers.
Art Deco is such a unique style because it was the first architectural movement that tried to resemble machines due to the curved edges and geometric figures. Buildings follow a pattern of three, as they have lines in their facade that give a sense of order and fresh outlook. Not only are these lines highlighted by stronger colors (such as dark blue in resemblance of the ocean), but the buildings also have “eyebrows” that give them a sense of three-dimensionality. Lastly, nothing screams Art Deco more than some vibrant neon lights that would make every tourist and resident feel like they are in another dimension – a fun, carefree view of reality.
Miami needed places where people can just share unique moments by walking around, eating, and admiring artistic buildings and stores. Deep down there is a longing for the European lifestyle where people have places to enjoy the outdoors and socialize in pedestrian zones, which is why places like Lincoln Road and Espanola Way are usually crowded and lively. What once was a simple desolated area with small streets, cheap dining rooms, and stores later became a classy, enthusiastic, and inspiring place.
Bailly, John William. “South Beach Walking Tour.” John William Bailly – Art Society Conflict Lecture, 3 Apr. 2020, johnwbailly.com/lectures/south-beach-walking-tour/.
Bakehouse as Text
“Art is Science’s translator”
by Luzmariana Iacono of FIU at Bakehouse, October 7th, 2020
When people think of Art, they almost immediately assume that it has nothing to do with the factual evidence that science can provide; but it has everything to do with emotions and the representation of an abstract reality. Meanwhile this can be up for debate, we know with certainty that art is much more than some paintings and sculptures. Art is a language, it has its own voice, and it can be the worldwide translator for Earth’s cry for help.
When visiting the Bakehouse Art Complex, located in Wynwood, my mind was blown at the fact that through clay we could communicate the ongoing problem occurring to Coral Reefs around the world. Lauren Shapiro is the leading artist collaborating with scientists to raise awareness to the environmental issues that are affecting coral reefs: climate change, and ocean acidification being the main factors. When participating in this project, it is inevitable to question “How can we solve this?” and just by asking the question our minds are already open to change.
The project itself consists of molding clay in the form of corals by utilizing silicon-based stencils from real, desiccated corals (which died a natural death and were not extracted for the sole purpose of art). We could incorporate color to our preference, and to create movement in the art piece we could make some pieces taller than the others. However, the best part of this project is when we place all of the corals into a wooden mural, juxtaposing their colors and shapes. Unfortunately due to Covid-19 the project slowed down in its process, but if enough people from the community sign up for their free workshops, the exhibition should take place in November 2020. It is an amazing experience that not only relaxes your mind and body when molding the clay, working it with your hands while listening to nature’s sounds, but it is also informative.
Rubell as Text
“Contemporary art – Can you handle it?”
by Luzmariana Iacono of FIU at Rubell Museum, October 21st, 2020
Imagine waking up one day, deciding with your couple that you want to collect art and make a statement about social changes throughout the years, and stereotypical issues that have been affecting the American culture all these years. After collecting art pieces for over 50 years, that’s what the Rubell family had envisioned: a contemporary art museum that would attract tourism and celebrate Miami-based artists as well. There are 40 galleries filled with 300 works by 100 artists (Carway-Carlton, 2020 https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/things-to-do/arts-culture/museums/the-rubell-museum) and through each artist a different, uncomfortable story is showcased.
When entering the museum the first controversial topic that arises is “how does the American perfect family really live when no one is watching?” Paul McCarthy is an American artist that often utilizes American myths and icons to tell a story, a satire, and utilizes the human body and animalistic figures to portray his message. His work is often seen as disturbing because imagine entering an Art museum and seeing a father next to a son humping a deer. Shocking right? His performance art is considered modern gothic.
Another American artist that creates art out of the chaotic, distracted, and mundane american lifestyle is Purvis Young. He began drawing and later painting when serving his time in jail, he was convicted for a felony, and what makes him special is the fact that nothing and no one could stop his imaginative flow. He would paint with an idea in mind, but not an exact sketch, and his usual themes were pregnant women, angels (regular people), boat people (refugees), and funerals. He narrates the story of African Americans in the South during times of war, the Great Depression, and societal conflicts. His portraits do not represent the standard of “beautiful art” that people look for, but they make you feel something – confusion, pain, a sense of nostalgia – and not everyone is capable of appreciating that, as they feel something better could have been done to portray the same idea.
Our society is so outspoken about giving women the power they deserve, trying to flee away from the patriarchal viewpoints that have ruled us in the past, and reinventing societal “roles.” But where are the actions that bring forth this thinking process? Where are we truly making the difference? if even a painting of a naked woman is too controversial for some. In the Rubell Museum, visitors are challenged to see how society unjustly classifies women based on their race and their attitude towards sexuality. They can admire the works of Tschabalala Self, Two Girls and Milk Chocolate, where women are posing naked as if to question the audience “Is this what you think of me? Is my body a sexual object to you?” Race and sexualisation of the feminine body are topics that are rarely given the proper importance because our society is so used to over-sexualising everything that we turn people into objects of desire. Another artist that stirs a conversation about women’ values being connected to their sexuality is Marlene Dumas. Her painting Miss January depicts a woman in a power pose position, standing tall, looking straight at you and not with a submissive look. She’s naked, she’s embracing her Diva role freely. But why is this so revolutionary and controversial? Because in the past women have always been painted (and treated as) the weaker sex, with an obedient look, almost inferior to men. Even if things began changing, this painting was the first one created by a woman and not a man, representing female empowerment and equality by a simple pose.
The Rubell Museum showcases the works of multiple artists, conglomerating multicultural ideas into contemporary American art. All of these works tell a story, whether it be social inequality, women and their sexuality, the LGBTQ community, oppression, and economic changes. Art is not always meant to be beautiful, but it has to make you feel something, and it is usually the simplest statements that will get people to discuss them (like when the artist Maurizio Cattelan taped a banana in the wall at Art Basel in Miami Beach). As a famous quote states, beauty is in the eye of the beholder – so what do you see?
by Luzmariana Iacono of FIU at Deering Estate, November 4th, 2020
Entering the Deering Estate is an out of this world experience – imagine escaping the traffic, the chaotic life in Miami to go on a trip with the past? Hiking through the Deering estate means going from one scenario to another, seeing pine trees in one area, and going through a swamp in the other just to continue the journey. The exposed roots in the swamp were there to make you trip as a way of saying “stop and remember who inhabited this place before” in fact, the Tekesta touched this soil before us and left their imprints. Some natural rocks can be found if looking attentively, they are shaped like leafs and if held correctly the thumb fits perfectly and they become a weapon. Given the lack of modern gear, those natural objects were used as knives to either cut branches, kill the prey, and excavate. It is also essential to notice how shells were found with two parallel holes where a branch could fit perfectly, and suddenly, these shells were another tool to excavate through the soil.
Continuing through what looks like an eternal jungle, with the entrance similar to the one described by Dante’s Inferno, the life of Freemasons is documented through their carved symbol inside a water well. This mysterious well adorned by climbing plants makes you question what was once there, were dead bodies hidden there? Or was it used for their sacred rituals? Following through similar tracks, history narrates that under a majestic Oak tree lies the tombs of ancestors. The Oak tree is symbolic of life, so it is impressive to see the poetry of life and death in one place.
During the hike it is important to recognize some important trees and plants, including the Gumbo Limbo tree recognizable by its red and peeling bark. This tree can cure you from poison and if one of its branches falls, another tree can spring from it. There is also an area covered by Pine trees that immediately transports you to Christmas time. However, while walking through those grandiose trees one needs to watch out for Poison Ivy as it will leave a rash (it can be recognized by its 3 leaflets).
There are two different areas where it is important to let go of the fear of insects and submerge yourself in the swamp to learn more about Miami’s history. In one place, a crashed airplane can be noticed and learning its history, one will be surprised to discover that it was never reported. Luckily, everyone survived the plane crash but one can speculate that the reason why the incident was not reported was because the plane was transporting cocaine or any other illegal drug. In another area, while admiring the work done by acid that corroded the porous limestone (solution holes), there is a pipeline trail that tells the story of ancient civilizations in Miami.
The Deering Estate is an environmental, archeological, and historical preserve that allows tourists to learn more about Miami’s history – the beginning of it. Cutler road alone goes back to 10,000 years of history! Hiking through this place is like going back to history and coming back anew.
Downtown Miami as Text
“A Walk to Remember”
by Luzmariana Iacono of FIU at Downtown Miami, November 25th, 2020
Downtown Miami, at first glance, is all about living in the present – no reminiscing of past cultures and dwellings. The beautiful skyscrapers dominate the skyline and combined with the peaceful water view of the river, it’s the perfect getaway. If we try to ignore the chaos caused by traffic, and the noise of the forever under-construction sites, we can hear the cries of our geographical ancestors, the Tekestas, as they were wiped away from their own land.
When speaking of the history of Downtown Miami, we must remember two names: Henry Morrison Flager and Major Francis Longhorn Dade. They both contributed to the construction of Miami and the re-civilization of it; Flager was known for bringing the Florida East Coast railroad system with the heavy work of the inhabitants of the area, only to banish them right after they were done working. He saw the potential and decided that in order for tourism to thrive, and to make commuting easier, he had to provide a transportation service. Julia Tuttle had a similar mindset, she wanted Miami to thrive and become the spot for people to admire and spend time in, therefore, she bought an extensive amount of land to better manage the territories. Major Francis Longhorn Dade, on the other hand, was involved in the Second Seminole War when he actually lost his life from the battle. It was such an historical moment that the county changed its name to “Dade”, not realizing that depending on the perspective on which the story is told, he was not such a hero after all. They were trying to remove and displace American Indians from what was considered the “white” settlements, full of riches. In simple terms, it was a genocide masked into a fair battle of power.
The Miami Circle at Brickell Point is what mostly caught my attention as I consider it to be the only place where people could really reconnect with their terrestrial ancestors. It is a national historic landmark, and it feels like a sacred space because it is surrounded by 24 holes that represent what once was a building where Tequestas used to spend most of their time in. Downtown Miami is truly a place full of surprises, the archeological findings brought alive by the need of creating new buildings that wipe down years of history are countless. It is thanks to them that we now have a sense of understanding of how much simpler life was, and how racial division played a role in its foundation.
Everglades as Text
“Nature’s Call to Silence”
by Luzmariana Iacono of FIU at Everglades, January 13th, 2021
The first year I moved to Miami, I remember being asked “What? You haven’t been to the Everglades yet? You have to go at least once!” and I asked myself “what’s so special about a National Park?”. At first I was not convinced of going because I am scared of most wild life there is, and seeing crocodiles right near me was not in my plans, but I decided to give it a try by going to the airboat ride. I liked it, but not as much as actually going slugging.
The adventure begins before the actual event, as the tour guides thoroughly explain the history of the Everglades and how Lake Okeechobee influences it. Starting in Kissimmee, Orlando the lake extends all the way down to Florida Bay bringing freshwater to the Everglades, depending on whether it is a period of high water or low water. There was a time when the lake and river overflowed, therefore, it was decided to restrict the flow by opening up canals that would direct the water towards the ocean and not inland. Those decisions seemed reasonable at the time, but now it is harder to manage water if there is a lack of it, and it is of poor quality. Sometimes we think we are doing society a favor, but maintaining a healthy ecosystem and not completely disrupting nature’s work could be the best solution to societal issues.
Who would have thought that enjoying some quietness in the wilderness would have been so therapeutic? Trying to get as far away from the noise of the outside world seemed to be impossible, until we stayed silently observing – nature staying still – Cypress trees all around us, some birds chirping cautiously, and even if we did not see any crocodiles while momentarily invading their home, I am sure they were quietly waiting for us to leave. The water was cold, but it fit perfectly with the words of a local poet who got inspired by the same views we were experiencing.
The silence around us hugged my uncertainties and gave me a sense of belonging that I have never thought I would experience by simply staying still.