Haven completed the FIU Honors College seminar Art Society Conflict taught by Professor JW Bailly in 2018-2019, I fell in love with his immersive teaching style. I am currently enrolled in Miami In Miami taught by Professor JW Bailly for 2019-2020. Below are my Miami as Texts.
Metro as Text
by Nicole Patrick of FIU at Miami-Dade Metrorail, 15 September 2019
Driving is one of my least favorite activities. It requires 100% concentration. You must calculate how long it will take you to arrive. It has unpreventable side effects like getting nudged between two semi-trucks, receiving the occasional bird finger because someone was not having a good day, slamming on your brakes because someone thinks it’s okay to go five miles below the speed limit in the left lane, and the worst side effect of all: being in a stand-still not once, but twice a day. Once in the morning and again in the evening. No matter where I decide to go in Miami, I will run into at least one of the above things.
Riding public transportation is one of my favorite activities. It does not require 100% concentration. You do need to calculate how long it will take you to arrive. It has unpreventable side effects like getting to take a nap while you wait to arrive, initiating the occasional conversation with the passenger next to you, sitting in an air-conditioned metro car, and the best side effect of all: getting to relax because you are not driving.
Miami-Dade County’s public transit system is called the Miami Metrorail. It has a total of two routes: one that starts in Hialeah and one that starts in the Miami International Airport. Both routes end in Dadeland South. Having ridden metro systems before in places like New York City, Barcelona, and Madrid, I have seen my fair share of systems and have seen both positives and negatives in each one. For the Miami Metrorail, it was definitely one of the cleanest and simple.
Somethings that I did notice; however, were the speed of the system and the lack of passengers throughout the day. The amount of time spent at each stop varied. As in one stop, the car waited for about three minutes another waited one minute. I also had to wait almost 10 minutes at one stop for the car to arrive. In most metro systems, that is unacceptable. In those systems, the trains are constantly running and will stop for about one minute at each station.
Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau states that Miami-Dade County has over 2.7 million residents. In a city this large, you would expect for the Miami Metrorail to be full, but that was not the case. It turns out that according to Miami Matters, from 2013-2017, only 5.2% of workers commuted by public transportation in Miami-Dade County. I believe this is because of the lack of accessibility to the Miami Metrorail to the entire county. Sadly, the system only runs on the eastern side of the county at the moment, which makes it nearly impossible for all residents of the county to utilize it on a frequent basis. With environmental concerns being of high importance in today’s society, I believe that the county should begin looking towards ways of improving the Miami Metrorail to decrease its carbon footprint and increase sustainability. As commuters, we must look at the side effects of both driving and riding public transportation.
Which side effect would you prefer?
Vizcaya as Text
“Vizcaya: A Miami Staple”
by Nicole Patrick of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, 29 September 2019
The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, located in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, exemplifies Miami. Each time I have visited, I am amazed by the Mediterranean style villa that was built for James Deering. Vizcaya magnifies the lavish Miami life-style we are known for. Sadly, that is not the truth for most Miamians with the median income of the city being $51,362. Given our expensive reputation, many individuals are known to give the façade wealth. Surprisingly, Vizcaya displays this unfortunate side of Miami through its marble pieces. There are a number of marble walls that are not marble, but are hand painted to look like marble. Since marble was too expensive at the time it was built in 1922, it was cheaper to give the perception of marble without the cost of the material.
Aside from the fake marble, Vizcaya and its gardens are filled with recurring objects and figures that link Miami to other cultures. Some of the “hidden Mickeys” are the ships, seahorses, dragons, and faces of bearded men. The ships and seahorses tie to the ocean. The dragons correlate to the story of the dragon-slayer Sant Jordi from Catalonia, which where James Deering had spent his time prior to building Vizcaya. The carved faces of men with beards can be found near the river entrance which reference to the many Roman river deities. You can find numerous styles of differing cultures in the estate, such as Baroque, Renaissance, and Mediterranean. Vizcaya represents the diversity of Miami with incorporating themes from all over the world, such as Christian paintings created by a Jewish artist and a replica of a Roman sculpture: The Thorn. Many would describe Miami as a melting pot: the point in which differentiating cultures blend.
Vizcaya’s irony is how, with incorporating other identities and being as extravagant as possible, it perfectly represents Miami with all of positives and negatives.
Deering as Text
“A Step into History”
By Nicole Patrick of FIU at The Deering Estate, 20 October 2019
Stepping into The Deering Estate is like stepping back in time. Once the group, led by the estate’s director Jennifer Tisthammer, passed the gate, we viewed a world foreign to urban Miami: nature. The lush ecosystem is filled with trees, plants, spiders, mosquitos, and butterflies all living in harmony. It is hard to believe there is a mountain in Miami, but The Deering Estate has it.
We hiked through mud, trees, and plants while dodging spiderwebs to make our way 24 feet above sea level in the Cutler Fossil Site. The remains of various animals, such as dire wolves, mammoths, saber tooth tigers, and giant sloths, remind us that we are just a small fragment in the long history of life on Earth. Specifically, you realize that there is more to Miami than the sun, beaches, cafecitos, and ventanitas. It has been a place of life for thousands of years.
Tequesta and paleo natives called Miami their home. They had established the Miami we know today. However, these people are nearly forgotten because of the limited information we know from them. There were families, tribes, groups of humans living here, but we do not know their names. We do not completely know their story. We do not know what they had looked like. These people have almost been forgotten by society.
However, The Deering Estate reminds us that we must not forget our past. Instead, we must step into our past to understand our future.
Chicken Key as Text
“One Class One Cleanup”
By Nicole Patrick of FIU at Chicken Key, 3 November 2019
A big passion of mine is the environment and the maintenance of a safe place in which all living things can prosper. I have been involved in a number of cleanups in South Florida and Puerto Rico. Each one ceases to amaze me. This past week, I had the opportunity to help somewhere that only a small number of individuals have. With my classmates led by our Professor John Bailly, I cleaned up Chicken Key. Chicken Key is a small island off the coast of Miami Dade County in Biscayne Bay. As a class, we teamed up in pairs and paddled our way one mile from The Deering Estate to Chicken Key. As we got closer, the image of ropes, containers, and flipflops started to form. My partner, Juliana Pereira, worked together with Jose Ernesto to fill up an entire canoe. We made the effort to go into parts of the island that others avoided. I looked angered at our canoe overflowing with trash because we did this. Maybe not us specifically, but as a human race, we did this. And we continuously utilize single-use products. We purchase flip flops that we often loose. We have become so obsessed with materials that we often forget to walk outside.
On Wednesday, October 24, 2019, our class was able to fill nine canoes of trash. Unfortunately, we were not able to collect everything. Each day, more trash piles on Chicken Key and all coastlines.
As a society, we have to come together, stop focusing on ourselves, and begin looking at the world around us. As my one class did, so can others.
Wynwood as Text
“The Rise, Fall and Rise of a Neighborhood”
What drives social change? Well, to me it is the people who dare to question topics rarely discussed. It is those that act upon their words rather than speak. I have found that many times these individuals are artists. Many choose to stir away from the status quo, which only makes them more popular. Miami’s Wynwood has become the epicenter of contemporary art. Prior to its fame, Wynwood had gone through a rollercoaster of prosperity.
It was established in 1917 and was an area filled with manufacturing plants and factories, such as Coca Cola and the American Bakeries Companies. Also, factories began moving north, migrants starting moving in. In the mid-1950s, Wynwood was referred to as “Little San Juan” after the capital of Puerto Rico because the population was mainly Puerto Rican. As a Puerto Rican, it makes me proud to know that my people made an impact and had a place to call home in Miami. However, as the neighborhood began declining, it became considered as a lower middle-class neighborhood and it was no longer a place that families wanted to stay in. As rent rates in other areas, such as Coconut Grove, began pushing out artists, they had to find other areas to work.
This brought the South Florida Art Center out of Coconut Grove and into Wynwood. From there, the neighborhood has done a complete 360°. As I mentioned before, artists start social change. The artists’ movement to Wynwood completely changed the dynamic. Soon collectors began entering the area, such as Martin Margulies and Carlos and Rosa De La Cruz. These collectors look for pieces of cultural consequence. Something that causes you to ask questions and converse with others.
Personally, my biggest takeaway from Wynwood Day is to do what you feel is right, not necessarily follow the status quo, do not just talk about it. Do it. As the artists and migrants do. Soon the rest will follow.
HistoryMiami as Text
By Nicole Patrick of FIU at HistoryMiami Museum, 24 November 2019
Located in the center of downtown Miami right next to the Miami-Dade Public Main Library, lies the HistoryMiami Museum. If you are not looking for it, it is most likely you will miss it in the mix of the large skyscrapers of downtown. Despite its difficulty to find, HistoryMiami’s contents inside are something to note. The museum goes in chronological order of Miami’s history—highlighting the start of life in the area with Paleo-natives and the diverse flora and fauna that is difficult to visualize in the South Florida ecosystem.
HistoryMiami’s mission is to “…safeguard and share Miami stories to foster learning, inspire a sense of place, and cultivate an engaged community” (About the Museum). It most definitely accomplishes through displaying and sharing stories that are not necessarily in classroom textbooks, such as forgotten names of history like Black military leader Francisco Menendez and Coconut Grove photographer Ralph Munroe. As our informative and gracious guide Maria Moreno—HistoryMiami Educator—noted on our tour, she and the museum believe that it is important to know both the positive and negative aspects of our history. One of the negative pieces is that there was an extreme and long history of segregation and discrimination that existed in South Florida. As visitors sit inside the Buena Vista trolley car, they are amazed by the technology and convenience that existed in the past; however, as they look up, they are stunned by the original sign stating, “State Law White Passengers Seat from Front.” At this moment when visitors realize that the segregation that existed in the South during the 1900s was also occurring in Miami. Emotion begins to fill the trolley as visitors imagine the discrimination that occurred in the very seats they currently sit in. Moreno then began telling stories of black and Hispanic Miamians during that time. Towards the end of the museum, there is a sense of triumph and sacrifice that is felt as visitors listen to the stories of immigrants who have risked their lives to reach Miami and change their lives forever.
HistoryMiami leaves its visitors wanting more. As the museum continues to evolve its featured collections, I hope that they expand to give justice to all the important parts of Miami history in which it briefly mentions and does not have the physical space to display.
Miami Art as Text
“A Miami Shift”
By Nicole Patrick of FIU at UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach, 4 December 2019
During one week, Miami changes from sun, sand, and shopping to art, ambiance, and awareness. Thousands of people flock to Miami every early December to attend Miami Art Week. During this time, there are hundreds of events that revolve around art. One of the notorious, well-known fairs is the UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach. This year, the fair had a focus on the environment, identity, tradition, modernization, and globalization. The works in the fair included all forms of mediums from all over the world.
The beauty of art is that it can bring awareness to a certain issue without telling but showing. Art conveys the emotion of the time, the issue, and the problem. The work of Faig Ahmed takes the traditional work of handmade woolen carpet and alters it. Ahmed, originally from Azerbaijan, examines how the world is changing and the transformation of perspective. As a society, we are continuously moving on to new trends. Ahmed’s work causes others to pause from whatever activity is taking place and focus their attention on the piece. Many times, we do not give a second thought to woven carpets that are typically found in our elders’ homes. It is a time of reflection, which is the point that changes the Miami perspective.
Miami Art Week causes a shift through conversation, so go out enjoy the culture, speak to others, and learn the stories.
Everglades as Text
“Inside the River of Grass”
By Nicole Patrick of FIU at Everglades National Park, 22 January 2020
On a cold January morning, FIU Honors College students set out to the Southwest edge of Miami-Dade County. We were about to do something we have never done before: slough slogging. If you are wondering what that is, it is hiking through the differing depths of the Everglades’ River of Grass. As we drove inside the 1.5 million acre-large Everglades National Park, it was as if we were being transported to another world. There were no buildings, lights, or cell-service. We were truly in the wilderness of the 305.
Once we arrived at the slough slogging area, Park Ranger Dylann Turffs handed us our sticks and guided us as we took our first steps into the chilly water. Park Ranger Turffs explained how vital the Everglades is to South Florida’s ecosystem. Everglades National Park was founded “in 1947 to conserve the natural landscape and prevent further degradation of its land, plants, and animals” (“History & Culture”). Throughout the years, the Everglades has been used for different purposes. Native Americans had lived and thrived off its landscape. Settlers and farmers used it for agriculture and draining. Today, many groups and the National Park Service work to conserve, preserve, and restore the Everglades. As a class, we discussed mankind’s role in nature while trying to find how far is too far. As Park Ranger Turffs enlightened to us, this question is something that is debated about, and there is no definitive answer yet.
The more I walked in the River of Grass, the less fear I had. I began to branch away from the class, finding new pathways. Words can not do justice to how one feels inside the double dome of the Everglades. It is as if you are in an underwater forest. You can stand there and listen to the silence. Only hearing the birds as they fly overhead and seeing the spotted garfish as they swim by your feet. At a moment when we were about to end our slough slogging adventure, a gust of wind came in and all of the cypress trees began to sway as if saying goodbye to us. Slough slogging is a South Florida treasure that South Floridians need to experience. This experience teaches visitors to appreciate the little things like a breeze or a woodpecker.
South Beach as Text
“A 105-Year-Old Town”
By Nicole Patrick of FIU at South Beach, 8 March 2020
When one imagines Miami, they picture South Beach. The area of South Beach is on the south side of the island of Miami Beach. It is known for its notable Art Deco architecture, proximity to the beach, and nightlife. The South Beach we know today is far from the unsettled farmland it was before 1870. In that year, the Lum brothers purchased 160 acres of Miami Beach to grow coconuts; however, this did not happen and in 1894, the land was given to a man called John Collins. He then purchased more land and discovered freshwater in the area.
At that time, visitors were coming to Miami Beach through ferry. Collins had the idea to build a bridge to connect the island of Miami Beach to the rest of Miami. In 1913, the construction began and soon later, as, with many projects, construction stopped due to a lack of money. That is when Carl G. Fisher gave $50,000 to complete the “Collins Bridge” and got 200 acres of beach land. Using his fortune, Fisher developed grand hotels and oceanfront estates on his property. During this developing time, none of the early beach developers sold to Blacks. Additionally, there was social discrimination against the Jewish population. Hotels and apartments had large signs that stated “Gentiles Only” to keep Jews out. Jews were only allowed in the southern area, which was developed by the Lummus brothers. In the 1920s, the land boom made Miami Beach into a place of the rich and elite. The hotels were always sold out. It did not last though, the hurricane of 1926 and the stock market crash in 1929 halted the Miami Beach boom.
On the other hand, this pause did create a benefit: “Restrictions on Jews began easing as developers became increasingly desperate for sales…” (The 100-Year Story). However, the same was not for Blacks. All hotel workers had to carry an I.D. card, but Blacks had a curfew that stated that they could not be outside in white neighborhoods after dark.
The market crash did not affect Miami Beach for long. In the 1930s, hotels and apartments began popping up and the signature Art Deco style forever changed Miami Beach. At this time, Miami Beach was very popular with the Jewish community. Many chose to stay and retire there, which is something Fisher could not have imagined.
In the 1960s, the island became a retirement community for “snowbirds” to live the rest of their lives on the beach. With prices going up, retirees no longer could afford the cost of Miami Beach and began moving inland, which caused the island to become almost a ghost town.
Then in the late 1980s, Miami Beach rose again. This is due to many factors like the population show “Miami Vice” and the “cocaine cowboys” that ran the city. It turned into the tourist attraction it is today with hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs lining the streets. Miami Beach continues to transform as time goes by. After 105 years, it has lived many lifetimes. From being a very segregated town to becoming the center of LGBTQA+ inclusivity in the county, no one could have imagined the Miami Beach of today.
“South Beach History.” VisitSouthBeachOnline.com. Web. <http://www.visitsouthbeachonline.com/history.htm>.
Viglucci, Andres. “The 100-year story of Miami Beach.” Miami Herald. 21 Mar 2015. Web. <https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/article15798998.html>.
Lotus as Text
“The Organization Miami Needs”
By Nicole Patrick of FIU at Lotus House, 11 March 2020
In November 2019, while visiting the Margulies Collection in Wynwood, Martin Margulies introduced Miami In Miami to the Lotus House. Mr. Margulies explained to us that he founded the Lotus House and that the entrance fee to the Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE goes towards the Lotus House as well. As stated on its website, “Lotus House is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of homeless women, youth and children. We provide sanctuary, support, education, tools and resources that empower them to heal, learn, grow and blossom into who they are truly meant to be.”
Fast forward to March 2020, our class spent our last in-person class volunteering at the Lotus House. Our day was filled with tasks, like cleaning, organizing, sanitizing, and serving meals. Due to the growing pandemic of COVID-19, the shelter is taking all precautions in ensuring the safety and health of its all the guests and employees. My particular role was to disinfect the children’s playroom and the dining room. I worked with my classmate, Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda, to efficiently and effectively sanitize the toys and structures inside the room. As we cleaned the books, the titles reminded us of our favorite books from when we were younger. I was amazed by the facilities and programs, such as the Thrift Chic Boutique that gives guests working retail experience in the thrift shop. Lotus House provides a safe, positive, and encouraging environment to help these women and children.
My classmates and I were glad to assist the Lotus House team. We spoke and worked with many of the leaders who work for the shelter. Something that stood out to me was that these women were previously guests at the Lotus House. Each one of them has their own story of triumph and perseverance. Thanks to the Lotus House, they are role models and leaders that impact the guests because they were once in that position.
The Lotus House is the organization that Miami needs. It can house 680 women and children annually. I am proud to have given my time to Lotus House because it is making the change and difference in numerous women’s and children’s lives in Miami.
Quarantine as Text
“A Quarantined Moment in History”
By Nicole Patrick of FIU in Quarantine, 18 March 2020
It is currently my fourth day being in quarantine at my home. It began on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. On that day, the FIU community was notified that all study abroad programs for Summer 2020 have been canceled. This decision affected me as I was scheduled to attend the Hospitality at Sea Europe program in late April, which takes place on a two-week cruise. The following day, FIU to remote learning until at least April 4th, this has recently changed to the end of the Spring 2020 semester. Also, all FIU employees are encouraged to work from home starting Monday, March 16th. This decision also affects me as I hold two jobs at the university. This has been a huge transition for me since I am typically at FIU every day for class or work.
Here we are, four days into quarantine due to COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. The virus has spread almost worldwide since January when it surfaced in China. Since then, it has taken the world by storm and the media has nonstop coverage on it. This has caused a panic in society. To me, this situation reminds me of the Netflix film Bird Box. There is utter chaos in the people as they run from an invisible entity that controls people’s minds. I have only gone outside to walk my dog and buy groceries in Costco.
In public, you can see the paranoia in the customers’ faces. Many of them are wearing gloves and face masks to protect themselves. It honestly felt like Darwin’s natural selection as men and women entered the store to find their fruits, cleaning products, or toilet paper. You can see how people are panic buying due to the fear of the unknown.
I believe this chaos is occurring due to the media and the unsanitary habits of society. As I mentioned earlier, the media is constantly covering the story of the coronavirus. So much that it has caused a panic in everyday people. A thought that surprises me is that businesses and public accommodations have been making announcements that they are disinfecting their entire facilities. Something that shocks me is that they have not been doing this. Pandemic or no pandemic, all facilities must be cleaned for public safety. Unfortunately, it is a common stereotype in society to have a negative connotation associated with custodians and janitors. However, this is one of the most vital positions in any business. Without a sanitary environment, patrons will not want to visit.
Although I can not tell when this pandemic will end, I hope that when it does, this causes a shift in safety standards in terms of sanitation in businesses and public accommodations. We are living in a moment in history.
Deering Estate as Text
“The Line of Palm Trees”
By Nicole Patrick of FIU at Virtual Deering Estate, 21 March 2020
During my time in Professor John W Bailly’s classes, I have visited the Deering Estate a countless number of times from touring the inside of the Stone House and hiking through the pine rock lands to exploring the Tequesta burial ground and cleaning Chicken Key. The Deering Estate provides a unique experience each time you visit.
I remember the first time I entered the estate. I was in awe. I felt as if I was transported to somewhere else. The Deering Estate is filled with diversity.
One of my favorite locations on the property is the boat basin. It is found on the eastern side of the estate where the land meets Biscayne Bay. The unique shape of the basin was completed through exploding dynamite inside the limestone ground in 1918. Many times, one can find marine life swimming inside, like manatees, fish, and rays. Sitting on the edge by Biscayne Bay and the lined palm trees, I feel a sense of peace and gratitude.
Another factor of the boat basin that brings me joy is this is where we depart and return for the Chicken Key cleanups. Every time I come to this spot; it reminds me of the number of times we have gone to Chicken Key to collect marine debris. On our canoe ride back, we have numerous bags of random items that wash up on the shores of the island. I am very thankful to the Deering Estate for allowing us to come back each time to clean up Chicken Key.
The Deering Estate provides a unique experience to all, whether a Miami native or not. There is history, nature, architecture, and environmentalism. I will be a lifelong visitor, canoeing back to the “lighthouse” of lined palm trees and the home of manatees by the boat basin.