Art Society Conflict: Carolina Machin

Hi everyone! My name is Carolina Machin and I am currently a sophomore studying communications and political science on the pre-law track. I have enjoyed taking courses through the Honors College and cant wait to see what a year in Professor Bailey’s class will teach me. I currently work as a legal assistant and hope that my academic and professional experiences will help me on my road to one day becoming an attorney. On campus I enjoy being involved and doing more than just going to class. I am the public relations chair for Homecoming, the Vice President of Development for my sorority as well as an SGA Senator and Peer Mentor. On my free time, I enjoy hanging out with my friends as well as reading and discussing prevalent topics in our society. I come from a big Cuban family and their experiences have helped me truly value my chance at an education. I have lived in Miami all my life and look forward to learning more about the culture in our city through this course. Cant wait for the next year together!

Deering As Text

As we embarked on our journey toward the Deering Estate, I wondered what would lie ahead for me. Would I just be visiting a pretty house near the water? Would I be getting uncomfortably close to some unknown bugs? The day could only tell. As I pulled up my car on the gravel road and saw myself surrounded by trees I began to question even more. Being from Miami Lakes, near Broward, I had never been to the Deering Estate and only heard of it from my sister who had visited a couple weeks before. It truly was a hidden treasure my entire life.

The day began, and we were off on a brisk hike, I had never been hiking and when professor Bailey said we would be I never imagined it would be something truly so authentic. I imagined an easy paved road and I was given a bumpy muddy one. Being a person with many allergies, being told that we would encounter lots of poison oak and ivy was concerning. But yet, I embarked with an excited feeling in my chest. I had to climb over, under, and around all sorts of plants and branches. After a good 20 or so minutes of hiking we arrived. The Paleo-Indian archeological site was one of the most interesting things I have experienced. Knowing that only 500 people have been able to experience this made it even more magical. The conch shell was one of the most marveling ones as it is actually quite similar to the tools we still use to this day and was practical when Professor Bailey put it in the ground.

After an interesting discussion on the site, we hiked back and headed to lunch. After a much needed break from the hiking we embarked on our second and last adventure of the day. This one was definitely on a much more paved road but it was just as challenging as the first as the bugs were for some reason very active that afternoon. We got to make several interesting pit stops and finally made it to our last destination. We walked over a wooden path and arrived at a mesmerizing site. It’s amazing to think that the Tequesta, although so far ago, shared customs with us. These burial grounds may look a bit different that your typical one today but the similarities were ever present. Their religions and customs kept them united then and continue to keep society united today.

All in all, this experience was something that will be engraved in my mind forever. Yes I did visit a pretty house, but I also did much more than that. And yes I might have left with five bites on my face but it was such a small price to pay for the knowledge and perspective that came at its cost. The Deering Estate should be visited at least once by every person who identifies with Miami as their home in order to truly understand our history.

Wynnwood As Text

Through our visits to the De la Cruz and Margulies collections, I have truly gained a new perspective on art. What I would like to focus on in fact, isn’t even the art anymore. But yet, its collectors. I always had this idea of art collectors, rich pretentious people with a chip on their shoulders. Yet what I learned through our visits is that we should never make those assumptions. Both collectors, Mrs. De la Cruz and Mr. Marguiles, were a pleasure to speak to and listen to their perspectives.

When we arrived at the marguiles warehouse, we began our tour with a very witty and “say it how it is” type of guy. Mr. Marguiles led us around his collection in a very relaxed mannor and many types skipped over pieces without stressing and even said that he would never create art and he wasn’t interested in it. He was extremely nice and I was so thankful that he took time out of his day to meet with us. Mr. Marguiles truly got rid of any stereotypes I had of art collectors from the start.

After a nice refreshing lunch in midtown while enjoying some of Miami’s most popular photo opportunities, I made my way over to the de la Cruz Collection. This was a much more upscale building and felt more like a typical museum. Shortly after arriving a very sweet older woman greeted us and I soon learned that she was Mrs. De La Cruz. She was so knowledgeable and from hearing her speak it felt like she was best friends with many of these artists. She detailed to us why certain art was placed next to each other and small details that she incorporated in the open areas. I would have to say that the experience listening to Mrs. de la Cruz talk was the most memorable part of my day and her perspective on art and the world was one of a kind.

Overall, what truly impacted me was the way that these collectors give back. It showed me that we can always give back, and in large ways, while also maintaining some sort of social and financial stability. Mrs. de la Cruz detailed to us the way that her husband and herself send groups of 40 students to New York and Europe, many times these students have never left the state.  This really hit home because I know so many of my classmates that have never been able to leave Miami and a trip like this would mean so much to them. Her story inspired me to make sure that wherever I end up in life I am always giving back. Mr. Marguiles showed this same charity by giving us his time. He gave us a tour of over an hour around his collection and was so patient with our questions and at times lack of knowledge. Furthermore, while I was preparing for this assignment I did further research on the two collections and found out that Mr. Marguiles actually donated one of FIU’s most known sculptures. The giant red sculpture that we all see when you drive into campus everyday was actually donated by Mr. Marguiles. The best part, he never felt the need to tell us that. He donated that to our campus and his want was never to brag but rather to give back with his art collection.

All in all this experience has given me so much perspective on art., collectors, and life.

Vizcaya As Text

Just a year ago, I found myself standing in a breathtaking garden in a small city in Spain. Surrounded by walls that reminded me of grand castles, and nothing was simple. These intricate walls and ornate benches filled me with wonder and reminded me of princess movies I once watched as a young girl. Just a few days ago, I found myself in what felt like the same location. Visiting Vizcaya for the very first time left me shocked to say the very least.

This quinceanera hot spot wowed me with its gardens, fountains, and most of all history. What especially caught my attention was the beautiful combination of its rich architecture and the natural world. The estate which once consisted of shoreline mangrove swamps, James Deering made sure to conserve these forests when building on the land. Thanks to his conservation efforts, we still enjoy the beauty of these mangroves today.

Vizcaya brings European aesthetic to Florida and makes the visitor feel transported to the continent for the afternoon.  Through our lecture I learned that much of the inspiration for this property actually came from France and Italy. The mix of cultures, including Cuban limestone and workers from all around, make Vizacaya the perfect culmination of Miami’s diversity.

From each wall built, to the main house filled with its lavish décor, visitors feel Dearing’s influence in every step they take. Through conservation efforts and the hard work of it’s employees, Vizcaya will continue to be a small escape for the people of Miami as their own little piece of paradise. After our visit I can truly attest to the cultural value that this property brings to our city, and will continue to inform others on the wonder that is Vizcaya. No longer just a quinceanera’s dream, but rather an escape filled with rich architecture and history for all.  

Design District As Text

Headed back to the Design District, this time feeling slightly less lost since it was our second time, I made my way through the traffic and ran over to the start of class. I had heard of the Institute of Contemporary Art before, but it wasn’t until we walked into the lobby that I realized what a treat I was really in for. I had actually looked into viewing Yayoi Kusama’s famous piece earlier this year but never got around to purchasing my tickets. When I found out that we would be given the opportunity to view her piece I was speechless.

I must say, the story behind this piece and Kusama’s mental health really marveled me. Someone can be so oppressed and live such dark experiences but still create pieces that bring light and wonder to others. Pumpkins are an object that I never analyzed but when I was in room I could feel the same joy that Kusama felt toward them. The polka dots made the pumpkins even more impactful by filling the room with her signature item. The story behind the piece connected to the way I felt when I walked in, in such a way I can only describe as magical.

I would have to say that our visit to the Design District was the most thought-provoking one for me personally. I still review my photos and videos, as well as recount the history our guide shared with us. I came in to this visit running in ready to start and I left not wanting to leave. It’s thanks to the efforts Professors like Bailey make for their students as well as those that invest in the arts that I was able to go to class but get so much more out of it than just that.

As we moved on, I encountered all different types of pieces that impacted me in different ways. Whether it be Sterling Ruby’s fashion designs or pieces that hurt me deep down to the core with their perspective on immigration, the experience as a whole was a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Seeing Sterling Ruby’s piece with the predominant American flags right after hearing about the saddening immigration stories was one moment that really left me thinking for hours after the entire visit.

Miami Art As Text

After living in Miami for 20 years and hearing about all the buzz that comes with Miami Art Week, I had been counting down to our final class visit since the course began. I was looking forward to seeing the exhibitions that came with this visit but what truly ended up capturing my interest were the people. From exhibition to exhibition, the people were all so diverse and the perspective they brought to my view on their art differed from each person we spoke to. At UNTITLED, we heard from people across the globe. Victoria Cooke who traveled from Ghana to present a variety of pieces spoke to us and gave us a very put together presentation. The traditional paintings of several boxing legends left me feeling mesmerized with the layered detail that I saw in each of them. Yet her insight on the slave paintings are what resonated with me the most and it’s something that I still think about every day. It showed me how we can look at an image and think it’s a simple painting, yet it can have so much rooted suffering. This also proved true as we moved on and spoke with a representative from a gallery in Havana, Cuba. This one hit close to home as all of my family is from the city. The image she presented of a woman of color plunged in water, almost drowning, connected with me on a deep level. As a political science major, I have very firm views on communism and the oppression it has imposed on its people, specifically in Cuba. In this image I felt as if the young lady drowning is a representation of the Cuban woman. She has so much going on around her, yet she continues to try and stay afloat.  With this eye-opening visit, as we moved on to Art Miami my experience was very different but the interactions I had with people continued to be the highlight. From talking to the very welcoming artists, to watching people make way for our large group, it was nice to have hope in the world renewed for the couple hours we were in that tent.

One final encounter that left me with a lasting impression was with our very own professor when he shared with us the Gerhard Richter piece and told us about how a few years ago he was just an up and coming artist and now he sells pieces for more than what my house is worth. It leaves me to think that although at the moment we may not be where we want to, but perhaps in a few years any one of us could be showcased on those walls. Overall, what Art Miami and UNTITLED taught me were that hope exactly. That although our lives may not be ideal or what we want them to be at the moment, we should have the courage to pursue the change we want to see.

Fountainhead as Text

When it comes to our visits, what always marvels me is the people I meet. With each class I learn how unique the humans of Miami are, as I like to call our community. With this recent visit, meeting Alex Nuñez was my favorite part of the day. I saw a few of her pieces previously during my visit to the Deering Estate for my See Miami project and I even included her in my reflection on the Deering Estate. After being awestruck by her use of mediums and unique perspective of the art world, she shared that she actually had a residency at the Deering Estate and in that moment I realized that I had seen her work on display before.

It was such an amazing experience getting to meet the person I read so much about just a month before. She showed us her unique perspective and wasn’t like any of the artists we had met thus far. She didn’t have a method to her madness or even the most thoughtful titles to her pieces, and that was my favorite part. Her whimsical nature and cut to the chase attitude left me more connected to the art world. I enjoyed getting to meet an artist that I had previously admired and even more, getting to see a little of the magic that her soul contained.

Rubell As Text

The Rubell Museum can be better described as an experience. Their pieces make the viewer feel an array of emotions. From comedy and pride, to discomfort, and beauty. Although not all the pieces were my personal favorite to view nor would I consider them pieces to place in my living room, I think that was the point. The attack on sexual constructs that we as a society still hold, were shocking at first but led me through a tunnel of deep reflection. Whether it was the amount of naked bodies, the young boy thrusting a goat, or the photograph of a flower in someone’s rectum, all of these things created a shock in the viewer that was necessary to truly contemplate how we view our bodies and sexuality as a whole.            

Another experience that was physically immersive were the two Kusuma installations. These felt larger than the one we had previously visited and offered yet another impactful experience for the visitor. As a whole, the Rubell Museum made very deep and thought out commentary on prevalent issues in our society. A light up “America” blinking, placed next to a large scale portrait of a black male were just one of the ways in which I found the museum made subtle social commentary for the reader to pick up on. I enjoyed that it almost felt like a puzzle, which kept me from mindlessly wandering but rather making sure I took in each piece and how it connects to the experience of the viewer as a whole. And that was the best part, the experience was immersive through your own thoughts and connections, not necessarily being inside the art- although a couple Kusuma’s never hurt

MDC Printmaking As Text

For all of our previous lectures, we’ve had the privilege of seeing Miami artists masterpieces beautifully displayed. From their studios, to private collections, and museums, my appreciation for art and those who create it has vastly expanded. Previously taking courses such as art history and traveling through most of Europe, I considered myself knowledgeable of the art world. This class proved that I was very short of that. However, through the last couple of months as well as my previous knowledge one thing has been missing, an appreciation for the actual crafting of these beautiful pieces. This missing gap was filled at our visit to the printmaking shop of Jennifer Basile at Miami Dade College.

            Professor Basile was the perfect mix of whimsical and caring that you would want in an art professor. Walking us through each step of the printmaking process, well aware of our lack of artistic abilities as well as my love of hearts, her shop became a place of artistic liberty and passionate creation. The fact that what we would create today would never grow old or faded, gave me even more motivation to completely devote my efforts into creating my own piece of art. The process proved to be challenging but worthy of all the necessary efforts.

After finishing my pieces, I took a moment to stare around the room at some of Professor Basile’s. What I once thought was a nice painting of a tropical landscape meant so much more. I couldn’t even fathom the level of skill as well as dedication just that one piece must have taken. This is something that I would have never realized if I were just seeing it hung in a museum. Had we not gotten this opportunity I would continue in the world unaware of the true talent and skill that art techniques require. I walked out of that shop with a new pair of eyes. Where I once only saw art, I now see so much more.

Deering Estate Walking Tour As Text

Original photo taken by Carolina Machin. CC by 4.0

Ever since I began this course, the Deering estate has seen me return time after time. After visiting the Estate on a tour of the Tequesta burial grounds, I returned for several volunteering opportunities at the Richmond Cottage as well as with my family to tour the property on foot. I have been lucky enough to see many parts of the property. After completing the walking tour, I am once again excited to return the Estate as soon as we are allowed to do so.

Original photo taken by Carolina Machin. CC by 4.0

Through the walking tour created by Professor Bailly, I learned even more details about the Estate. One of the areas that I am specifically marveled by is the Boat Basin. It’s the first shocking view you have when you walk through the Estate and it is the picture-perfect spot for the next Windows wallpaper. It is protected from the watercrafts that are signature to Miami and makes the perfect home for Manatees. I look forward to witnessing a sunset soon at the Estate and as I read through this walking tour it only made me treasurer the many hours I spent at the Estate even more.

Original photo taken by Carolina Machin. CC by 4.0

The Deering Estate is a jewel to South Florida that many people are unaware of. In a city where we love to destroy and build, it holds on to its historical value and continues to be a rare perspective on what Miami once was. This is a must visit for anyone who claims they are a Miami native. From the rock ridge, solution holes, Tequesta burial mound, and timeless cottages, the Deering Estate has a world of history and knowledge to offer anyone who visits.

Miami Beach Walking Tour As Text

Photo by John Bailly CC by 4.0

As I read the Walking Tour of South Beach for this assignment, I felt as if my quarantine frustrations only built up. The thought that one of our best visits would never happen or that all these historic sites would never be explained to me through an interactive excursion broke my heart. However, I am thankful to Professor Bailly for giving us this opportunity, even virtually, as I will use this site to conduct my own walking tour of South Beach as soon as we are allowed to. I have already planned that South Beach, along with the Deering Estate, will be my first two outings post-quarantine.

Through this lecture, I was shocked at the little knowledge I have of Miami and its history. I had no idea that South Beach was once just a mangrove barrier between the Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic. As a part of Carls Fishers development the area was ripped of its environmental majesty and replaced with hotels and tourist hot spots.

I found this especially frustrating because through our formal education, we learn a lot about the creation of America and the costs that came with that. However, not once in any history class is the history of the very city that we live in covered. I think this creates a very ignorant community that will continue making the same mistakes we once did. We have the third largest school district in the nation, and they may all know that Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue but they have no idea that Carl’s Fisher stripped us of so much of our history when he plowed through it all and built what we now know as South Beach.

Photo by John Bailly CC by 4.0

I will take this new knowledge and try my best to share it with as many people as I can. It is through crucial readings like this that we can all do our part to create a less ignorant community. If we do not learn about the past, history will repeat itself time and time again. South Beach is a beautiful area filled with so much culture and beauty. Now that I understand the history that led to creating this, I can have a deeper appreciation for what stands before me as I take a walk through Lummus Park or even the Betsy Poetry Rail.

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