France Spring 2020 As Texts: Maia Duschatzky

Maia loves to travel! One of her favorite countries that she has visited so far is Hungary, which is where this picture was taken.
Taken by Pablo Duschatzky (CC by 4.0)

Maia Duschatzky is a Junior in the Honors College at Florida International University. She is pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science and is expected to graduate in Spring 2021. Being a part of the Computer Science Honor Society and loving what she studies, she is also very passionate about the arts. She has been dancing most of her life and currently works at a dance studio, teaching and creating choreographies (her favorite activity). She is planning on embarking on the France 2020 Study Abroad program, where she hopes to learn more about European art and French influences in different aspects.

“Picture Perfect” by Maia Duschatzky of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Deering’s arch, designed to resemble the Arc de Triomphe
Taken by Maia Duschatzky (CC by 4.0)

Coming in late and stumbling upon our group, I was able to listen in on the importance of something as simple as an arch column. James Deering was an ambitious man, who wanted nothing but the best for his hidden home in a forest of luxury. Basking in the inheritance he received from his family’s agricultural machinery manufacturing, Deering was able to provide himself with whatever he desired.

The arch column goes to show the esteem at which he held himself, as an invincible visionary which he portrayed through his grand designs. The column was supposed to resemble the Arc de Triomphe, a French masterpiece which represents the struggles and victories of soldiers, something Deering could not relate with. He desperately tried to show his strength with his affluence, but money cannot buy everything.
He aims to show his strength with other French hints, such as the French saying “J’ai Dit” at the top of his staircase, which coincidentally stands for his initials. The saying means “I have spoken”, which I interpreted as what he says is what goes. But what I understood was that he wanted to show off a fancy, happy lifestyle that he did not necessarily have.

Deering had no family, resulting in him investing himself entirely to Vizcaya. There was something lacking within himself, which you can see in the fake books within his walls and the broken Virgin Mary picture. I felt that as a lack of respect for important things in life, like religion and knowledge. The gardens are manicured grass, a fake representation and an attempt to control life, which is what he could do with his money.

He was lucky enough to have enough wealth to do whatever he pleased, something he did not take for granted with his great investments and designs. Everything Deering did with his estate had an underlying meaning, even if he did not know of it. It goes to show that everything is not what it seems.

“Maian Ballgame” by Maia Duschatzky of FIU at MOAD

Taken by Maia Duschatzky (CC by 4.0)

Something that we accept so commonly in the Latin-American cultures that make up our society inspires kids and brings families and countries together, uniting them to battle on the fields for victory and nothing less – soccer.

For families like mine, soccer is an important pillar that sets not only cultural standards but moral ones as well. Countries like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and so many more, take soccer as a lifestyle and adapt to keep the ball rolling. Soccer is simple to play wherever there is a yard, one can instantly relate to the instinct to win as players race across the field. But what many people, including myself, do not know, is that soccer came from the Mesoamerican Ballgame.

Having to do with Mayan mythology and Aztec royalty, the Mesoamerican Ballgame is played by hitting a rubber ball off of one’s hip. Loss meant death, which was depicted in vases and stones that were later found, so it was vital for players to be adept and understand the ultimate rules of this gruesome game.

Courts for the ballgame were found all over North and Central America, ranging from Arizona to Nicaragua. The largest and best-found court is in Chichen Itza, where one can see the span and the stone rings the Mayans added for rare bonus points.

There was nothing rare about this game in Mesoamerica. As widespread as soccer is today, the ballgame was a sacred place in religion and warfare for Mesoamerican cultures. The sun and the moon are said to have been created from this game in Mayan culture, as well as the best sport in current times.

“Showing Off” by Maia Duschatzky of FIU at Deering Estate

Over 10,000 years ago, humans lived on the Deering Estate – today it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a home to some of the most substantial ancient, archeological, architectural and ecological relics of Floridian history. Reading upon the past of this historic estate, I was drawn towards the Stone House due to all of its grandiose installments.

Charles Deering was a man of great power, being held to great regard among those who dealt with the preservation of environments, art and philanthropy. Due to the substantial amount of wealth he had, Deering decided to construct the Deering Estate on a plot of 444 acres to spend his final years of life on. With the help of the architect Phineas Paist, who prominently worked on the City of Coral Gables, he was able to build a 3-story Mediterranean Revival Mansion, dubbed the Stone House.

View of the Stone House in the 1980s. Photo from Deering Estate

The walls of the Stone House were not of stone but of 18 inches of poured concrete, along with coffered ceilings showing elegance and iron fixtures displaying luxury. To show off a bit more, Deering had an Otis elevator installed, becoming one of the first home elevators to be installed in the region.

During all of this, the Prohibition Era made alcoholic beverages priceless, which is why Deering had a wine cellar privately created to hold his assortment of spirits. Not only did he show off his drinks, but he also showcased his art collection and his books. And what’s better than having your favorite spirits in the comfort of your mansion? Being able to simply waltz onto your balcony while facing the sunrise with the breeze of the bay.

Deering was a pivotal man in the history of South Florida, but he did not shy away from the luxuries of wealth. Not only did he buy hundreds of acres of land and build a couple of great buildings, but what it all consisted of was and what it was built upon was a public display of his wealth. His money could have been used for further preservation and philanthropy; he did not have to create the Stone House, but he felt he had to in order to live comfortably.

“Staying Afloat” by Maia Duschatzky of FIU at HistoryMiami

Living in Miami almost my entire life, I had no clue that the HistoryMiami museum existed. Having walked past the building multiple times when visiting Downtown Miami, it is unbelievable that I passed by thousands of years of history without knowing. Something else I didn’t know about this museum were all the exhibits it contains, like the “Gateway to the Americas” exhibit.

Displaying a crude boat that could barely stay afloat holding groups of people on their journey to America, this exhibit shows immigration stories of those who came to Miami in search of better opportunities. South Florida is a fusion of multicultural diversity, a home to many different ethnic groups and cultures. Due to its primal location, Miami was the perfect destination for those from the Caribbean who decided to come aboard those boats.

Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0

As urban areas became more prevalent with work accessibility and technical developments, South Florida became a popular spot after World War II. Cuban exile in the early 1960s and the Mariel Boatlift of 1980 gave path to many Cubans making their way through 90 miles by boat over here. Haitians also made their way to Miami in the 1990s to seek a new life

Overwhelmed with the influx of refugees, Miami’s services and authorities were overwrought by the demands that this caused. Nonetheless they powered through and tried to help them adapt to their new home.

That is what makes Miami so great. The melting pot of civilizations, it is home to so many different people who each bring about their own contributions to the table of cultures. I remember when my family and I first came to this country, seeking a better life, like mostly everyone who comes to the U.S. My parents were doing everything they could to keep their family afloat and did a great job doing so – as well as all the immigrants who are working hard in our society.

“Bright” by Maia Duschatzky of FIU at Miami Beach

The Carlyle. Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0

Every time I go out, I am always taking pictures. Whether it be of my friends, the luscious trees or grand buildings, something always catches my eye. Reading upon the architectural aesthetic devices, I never realized what is so casual for us to see walking down Ocean Drive is something that set bars high for other architectural designs.

The white buildings with pastel-colored details were always one of my favorite details of Miami Beach. Resembling nature’s features with clouds, flowers and water, Art Deco contains the Mediterranean Revival architecture we see in Coral Gables and aims to echo with the bright South Florida sun.

The architecture of the Art Deco buildings is bright among other things. It broke norms by applying curved edges to resemble appliances, referencing ships and planes to relate with diverse stylishness and the lively tourism of Miami Beach. With arched ends and influences from Mesopotamia and Mesoamerica, the buildings reached no more than three stories, with each story smaller than the one below it.

Taking pictures of buildings wherever I go, I never noticed how much went into the architectural design of Art Deco’s building. Even stepping onto Terrazzo floors, everything was well thought out to bring unique and fascinating art to daily life. Buildings like the Carlyle, the Breakwater, and Essex House Hotel are great examples of the idea Carl Fisher envisioned for a prime tourist spot in the bright South Beach area – perfect for me to take pictures of!

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