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.