Maria Cruz: MIM Service Project (Fall 2019)

This post is dedicated to Maria Cruz’s Service Project she had to complete for her Honors course in the Fall of 2019. For her project, she worked directly with Art Miami at their Aqua Art Miami fair during Miami Art Week.

Photos and edits by Maria Cruz (CC by 4.0)

If I could describe my time at Aqua Art in one word it would be unforgettable. As a first time worker at an event of this magnitude, there were a lot of factors I had not originally expected to encounter and definitely a lot of new obstacles to overcome. Still, I put forth my maximum energy and effort and managed to survive the week, making my time there one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. While my official title was “Exhibitor Services Lead” I, alongside the rest of the fair’s small team, were involved with all the aspects of production. From December 1st to the 9th we all dedicated the entirety of our days to put up, run, and clean up an entire art festival. There is also the fact that this being hosted during Miami Art Week — a globally renowned event that draws in thousands of tourists and art appreciators alike from all over the world to the city. While I had an understanding of the pressures that this position came with when I first signed on to the work the fair reality is always much different than your original expectations. Nonetheless, it is something I am immensely proud of taking a part in.

Photos and edits by Maria Cruz (CC by 4.0)

I originally got in contact with Art Miami after an opportunity Professor Bailly presented us with; yet, my original expectations were not to work the Aqua Art Fair. Still, once I was presented with this new position I was extremely excited by the prospects. While there were very difficult and tiring times – my team and I were working over 10-hour long days in attempts to meet the very high expectations of us – it was immensely fulfilling to see how successful we were. Aside from it being the first time I would get an extensive look at the background scenes of a Miami Art Week event, the premise of the fair actually correlates with my studies of international relations. Thus, by taking on this endeavor I not only got to directly help in enriching my community, but I also spent the week engaging with topics and issues that will benefit my future academic and professional initiatives. As stated in their mission on their website, Aqua Art “has consistently earned critical recognition for presenting vibrant and noteworthy international art programs.”

Photos and edits by Maria Cruz (CC by 4.0)

As someone who has had her interest in the arts reignited and is pursuing a career focused on the intercultural aspects of global affairs through non-traditional forms, my work at the event has gave me a newfound appreciation for the influence of the contemporary art world. Both in Miami and internationally, individuals’ modes of expression through art is largely ignored and I hope to bring a holistic awareness between arts, politics, and cultural dynamics of the global arena with my future career. However, before I can accomplish this feat I am aware I have to start on a smaller scale. Getting involved with Art Miami and actively participating in Miami Art Week made me realize just how much we, as a community, are lacking in providing adequate support systems for artists and their works. Whether their pieces focus on immigration, environmental degradation, or any other current event topics these individuals’ efforts in spreading awareness for these issues go beyond the political implications. Historically, artists have helped societies have a broader understanding of sociocultural issues; however, what many fail to realize is that their roles have not changed, they have merely adapted their mediums of expression. This is why, if given the chance, I urge every student, no matter what their academic background, is to get involved with cultural programs because I can guarantee with art you will always find something that inspires or enlightens you.

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