Italia Spring 2020 As Texts: Victoria Duran

“CC by 4.0”

Victoria Duran is a Junior at Florida International University and apart of FIU’s Honors College. She is majoring in Marketing with a certificate in Social Media and E marketing Analytics. She is interested in event planning and hopes to one day work creating campaigns for Production companies such as Warner Bros. or Sony Pictures. She is set to graduate in the the Spring of 2021 and will be traveling with Professor Bailly to Italy during the Summer of 2020.

“ James Deering knew what he wanted” by Victoria Duran of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Photo By: Victoria Duran “CC by 4.0”

I have lived in Miami my whole life, but I had never visited Vizcaya before this day. Before our visit, I had no idea what to expect other than beautiful architecture, which was a given. Vizcaya went far beyond all of my expectations. The property may look as if it was brought from another country and dropped randomly in Miami, but I feel like that perfectly represents much of what Miami is founded on. Many people have come to Miami and have held strongly onto their cultures and traditions and have proudly integrated this into Miami society. James Deering knew what he liked and what he wanted and thus created Vizcaya as we know it now: a gorgeous home that melts together many different cultures.

My class looked specifically at Vizcaya’s Italian influences which were relevant throughout the property. One of the sculptures that most stuck with me was the miniature version of the Boy with thorn or ” The Spinario,” which is a symbol of a known Roman legend of a boy who was so committed to his country he ran with a thorn in his foot to deliver an important message and did not stop as his country was more important than himself. Vizcaya also has a lot of French influences and something that stuck out to me was a stain glass window panel at the top of the stairs with the saying “J’ai dit (I have spoken).” This stuck out to me as it was a subtle detail that held a lot of power from James Deering, especially as it likened him to Christianity’s God.

Overall, I was blown away with everything that I discovered about Vizcaya. I am excited to visit again someday and continue exploring everything the property has to offer.

“Recognizing Roots” by Victoria Duran of FIU at Museum of Art & Design

Photos and edit by Victoria Duran (CC by 4.0)

The Museum of Art & Design is located in Downtown Miami, FL, and is housed in the Freedom Tower. One of the exhibits featured was “The Exile Experience: Journey to Freedom”. This exhibit, in particular, stood out to me as it told the experience of thousands of South Florida residents. This exhibit detailed the intake of Cuban exiles fleeing Fidel Castro’s rule in Cuba between 1962 and 1974.

Growing Up in Miami, it is impossible to deny the influence of Cuban culture in South Florida. I, myself, am not Cuban, but I can’t help but feel connected to the culture as I have grown up listening to the stories from family friends and people in my community. During our visit to MOAD, I learned more about “Operation Peter Pan” or more commonly known in Miami as “Pedro Pan”. This operation saw the mass immigration of over 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban minors to the United States. Along the wall of the second floor of the museum stood a mural filled with faces of minors whose lives were forever changed following the communist takeover of Cuba.

This mass influx of Cuban immigrants planted roots in South Florida and has created new generations that link back to the same building: The Freedom Tower. In its time as a Federal processing center for Cuban Immigrants, this building became a symbol of freedom as it was the first building on U.S. soil these immigrants stepped foot in. The day I visited the museum, two girls from my class found out that their grandmothers had been among the thousands processed in this building. As time has gone on, the once tallest tower in Miami is surrounded by high rises and luxury condos, but it will forever be remembered by Cubans as the “Ellis Island of the South” or, “El Refugio.”

Leave a Reply