HistoryMiami as Text

On this week’s excursion, we explored the historical side of Downtown Miami and Vizcaya, and discussed the problematic issues and saddening truths, while also exploring the beautiful culture and creative background of the city we call home.

“Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels”

Starting at the Government Center Metrorail Station, we viewed a fountain by famous pop artist Claes Oldenberg of a broken bowl of oranges. This completely compliments Miami’s style, as it references the famous Orange Bowl football stadium, and Florida being the ‘orange state’. Although the positioning of the sculpture made it hard to see what it actually is, it is symbolic of Miami’s nature as this city and its downtown is not what it appears to be.

Miami River

As we continued down to the Miami River, we encountered Miss Lucia Meneses and she was kind enough to let us into the slave residencies of the last remaining building of Fort Dallas, a former plantation of Miami. Although the structure was altered with new wood beams and a concrete floor, the conditions of this house were unlivable. Even with adaptations over the years of being Miami’s first courthouse, to becoming the meeting area for the Daughters of the American Revolution, to stand where people of history stood before us was amazingly impactful, and extremely depressing.

Flagler’s Impact

Even after all these years, it’s amazing how Flagler’s railroads affected and created the city of Miami today. The search for citrus pushed the building of the railroad all the way down to the Florida Keys, and formed the need for a new city. However, the sad truth is a backstory of the racism occurring at this time as the slaves working we’re allowed to vote in support for a new city, but immediately after we’re segregated to the conditions of the previously mentioned Fort Dallas’s slave residencies.

Viscaya Styles

The mix of different artistic styles in the Vizcaya Villa is described perfectly by Professor John William Bailly; it makes no sense. From the outside of the villa, it has a very European style architecture, but the adventure begins when you enter the house. The statue of Dionysus and The Dancing Faun show that this residency is one of earthly pleasures and escape. The next room to the left then tells a different story of neoclassical art where the expressionless art gives a sense of intelligence, and the subliminal sense of structure give the space a uniformity and sense of harmony. However entering the next room is one of baroque and extremely emotional art, reflecting the Sun King’s palace of Versailles. The topic of cultural appropriation of art was frequent such as the Catholic painting of the Virgin Mary being used to cover up organ pipes, and Islamic art being used to describe the Catholic god. 

The mix of art in Vizcaya making no sense, to the contradictory nature of the creation of the city, are perfect representations of Miami and the mix of cultures that make no sense, but still collaborate and work together to create the historically problematic, yet extremely impactful city of Miami.

Leave a Reply