ASC Spring 2020 Service Project: Abigael Derlise

Student Bio

Abigael Derlise is a current senior at Florida International University, majoring in International Business with a certificate in International Trade and Investment. After graduation, my plan is to pursue a career in Corporate Banking, although that may change after graduation. She has a passion for improving learning for children; she hopes to create a Non-Profit Organization to help children get a better education in her hometown.

For my Service-Learning Project, I had the chance to work with Mette Tommerup on her Locust Projects at Emerson Dorsch gallery. Mette is one of the artists we visited for the semester. We visited Emerson Dorsch gallery, Mette collection was on display, and she gave us the opportunity to interact with her painting. I was shocked because usually, we are not even allowed to touch the art with our fingertips. It was such a great experience that I wanted to do it again. Luckily, I was able to go back and experience her work a second time.

 Tommerup thinks of her paintings as actors in their own stories.  She wanted three models to play with the canvases while the photographer is capturing the scene in a way to frame her production. The idea is to bring the character out of the painting. In this picture, the characters are angry, and they’ve had enough of the chaotic world. Earth is not what it seems; they are disappointed with human cruelty. Ur is full of rage; she is revolted, peace is gone.

As a non-art major, I was interested in participating in the photoshoot. I thought it was a great opportunity for me to get involved with an artist. I wanted to get a better understanding when it comes to an exhibition. I experienced the process of reorganizing an installation.  My role was to perform each panting story by showing out their emotions. The entire the girls and I were dancing, moving and ripping the canvases off the wall.  The end result was satisfying because Tommerup ‘s photographer was able to capture some great shots for her project. I cannot wait to see the project when it’s fully completed.

Who Art Miami 2020: Eddie Arroyo by Abigael Derlise

Artist Quote

“Be more aware of speaking with people and not to people.”

“Be unpredictable, be real, be interesting, tell a good story!”

Eddie Arroyo

Student Biography

Abigael Derlise is a current senior at Florida International University, majoring in International Business with a certificate in International Trade and Investment. After graduation, my plan is to pursue a career in Corporate Banking, although that may change after graduation. She has a passion for improving learning for children; she hopes to create a Non-Profit Organization to help children get a better education in her hometown. She is currently working on her own business that will enable her to resell art from Haiti. A perfect day for her is a day at a botanical garden, state park or at a museum.

Artist Biography

Eddie Arroyo
Image Credit Sharif Slimting Source New Academy of Art

Eddie Arroyo was born in Miami and grew up in Little Havana. His mother is Colombian, and his father is Peruvian. Arroyo comes from a family passionate about painting. His father was a painter, which is why he became an artist. Arroyo obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from Florida International University. His painting focuses on the effects of gentrification through landscape. Arroyo had the chance to exhibit some of his work at the Girls’ Club Collection, Bridge Red Studios, Spinello Projects, Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Florida Atlantic University, Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, and the Little Haiti Cultural Complex. 

Key Figures of Personal Importance

Eddie Arroyo has had some impactful mentors who have contributed significantly to his success in landscape painting. One of them being his professor, John Bailey, who taught him in a painting and printmaking class at Florida International University. John Bailey was an MBA graduate from Yale who used the skills he had acquired from Yale on Bachelor of Fine Arts programs, which made his classes more intense compared to those of other professors. Another critical mentor was his father, who was not a professional painter but did painting as a hobby. He could talk to Arroyo about art theory and its history, which gave Arroyo a real solid foundation. Moreover, Arroyo is very conscious of using Edward Hopper as a source of inspiration to contextualize or help people comprehend what he is trying to say to the world. Edward Hopper is a renowned American painter of the twentieth century whose technique was mainly focused on lighting shapes and architectural structures that characterized the American art at the time people did not see much of it.

Historical Context

Eddie Arroyo, 5901 NE 2nd Ave. Miami, FL 33127, 2019
Courtesy of the Artist and Spinello Projects

Arroyo is mining history by painting actual buildings and structures in Miami, and mainly those of Little Haiti, including the vanishing, family-run storefronts, botanicas, and restaurants, all victims of the gentrification that is quickly eating up that neighborhood. He thought it was essential to use Edward Hopper’s work to try and address what essentially became gentrification. Hopper is an artist whom Arroyo thought was active within the context of his history by basically addressing industrialization and primarily the Industrial Revolution, or particularly the American industrial revolution. During the Industrial Revolution, the rest of the world was curious. Eger to know what American art looks like. Since they wanted to see the artwork, they would not stop questioning it. Paris was seen as the center of the art world in those days. It came to a point where Europe was asking whether America had any artwork. Based on the research, one can say today that Edward Hopper is one of the artists that was being used as an example of what an American artist looks like, as opposed to other artists at the time. 

Arroyo took that kind of concept which exists today within the art world that when people look at an artist like Edward Hopper, they mainly see him as American. He also wanted to take the issue of what American art looked like and talk about it on those terms within his work by using Edward’s approach to painting and framed it under the context of what America is today. Arroyo specifically considered Miami, in proximity in the borders of the United States, which just evolved mostly to become impulsive, trying to figure that out. Firstly, Arroyo was impressed with the evolution that had happened since then, which made it easy to infuse the narrative of gentrification through his work that he thought made the most sense. He did that because gentrification was receiving much denial. Many people doubted if it was taking place. And due to several challenges within the art community in Miami, he wanted to infuse that in his work, which he thought would as well address the same. 

Cultural Context

A group of people standing in front of a sign

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Eddie Arroyo, 8395 NE 2nd Ave. Miami, FL 33138, 2019
Courtesy of the Artist and Spinello Projects

Arroyo was afraid that the poverty-stricken population who were mainly from the residential neighborhood of Little Haiti would face a significant challenge trying to endure the invasion of developers. Still, he later realized that his fears were baseless. Thus, part of his practice was to do the commemorations and history of the city, which Arroyo termed as recording the community and culture. He mainly did this to those areas which did not have enough resources and were unable to do such a thing by themselves.

The work of muralists inspired Arroyo so much. They brought together art and activism by leaving paint on walls of buildings and signs to mark both the realities and memories of a given place. Being born of Colombian and Peruvian immigrants, Arroyo did his first solo painting show in 2010, and he has as well participated in several group shows (Tschida, 2019). The majority of the paintings in his studio portray signs, the hand-scribbled and tell-tale marks of a working-class neighborhood that are likely to face many challenges. One of his signs read, “Restaurant space for lease.” The one he had was on its way to the Whitney, which is a community leader, Speak Early/Speak Loud/Speak Proud, contrary to the Magic City Innovation District expansion.

Contemporary Context

Eddie Arroyo, 5825 NE 2nd Ave. Miami, FL 33137, 2019
Courtesy of the Artist and Spinello Projects
Eddie Arroyo, May 17, 2019, Chinatown
Courtesy of the Artist and Spinello Projects

Among the 75 artists who were invited to take part in the 2019 Biennial, two were from Miami, who was Eddie Arroyo and Agustina Woodgate, both represented by the advanced gallery Spinello Developments. Other Miamians, including Robert Thiele (1975) and Adler Guerrier and William Cordova (both in 2008), had also been chosen in the past for the Whitney Biennial. However, in the real sense, Arroyo is still considered to be the most representative of Miami so far. In 2009, Biennial’s key themes included “the mining of history to re-invent the present or future, thoughtful and unrelenting consideration of issues of equity together with fiscal, racial, and gender disparity.” And Arroyo indeed mined history by painting actual buildings and structures in Miami, and mainly, those of Little Haiti, including the vanishing, family-run storefronts, botanicas, and restaurants, all victims of the gentrification that is quickly eating up that neighborhood. Also, Arroyo does not shy away from the activism that is part of his art, and he talks about it his home on NW 2nd Avenue.

Use of Formal Elements of Art

Arroyo made good use of bright tropical oranges and yellows to cover the Café Creole. On one of those walls was the mural of Mecca, the Haitian poet, and rapper, wearing military attire, both as the mural would have appeared originally, then as it later looked, ruined. He is currently documenting the effects of gentrification through landscape paintings. He as well used new white or slate-gray colors to paint buildings, which turned out bland with generic spaces. The fact that some features were fast vanishing made him feel that lovers of Miami’s diversity were going to miss the fruit carts, botánicas, as well as the music that was always coming from the storefronts.

Eddie Arroyo, 5825 NE 2nd Ave. Miami, FL 33137, 2016
Courtesy of the Artist and Spinello Projects

Most of Arroyo’s work of gentrification is innovative because it focuses mainly on addressing the issues of transforming neighborhoods. For instance, his work on places like Wynwood and Little Haiti has made these areas to rapidly lose their distinct neighborhood character and are currently home to high-end restaurants, homes and art galleries accommodating both domestic and international wealthy residents. It is an original work because as much as they appear to be bland, it has really managed to transform that area. Arroyo sees a downside as well. New proprietors, including art organizations, regardless of how amicable, they want their newly built properties to be amidst up-and moving businesses. These do not necessarily have to be mom-and-pop stores and Laundromats. And since an increase in the value of a property is directly correlated to rents and property taxes, more evictions, unemployment, and a loss of the neighborhood’s social structure are likely to be experienced in such areas. Arroyo is aware of the fact that gentrification is almost inevitable in the current real estate industry, specifically with Little Haiti’s closeness to the business district, Wynwood, and the Design District. But from the interview, he seems to disagree with how the process takes place. For instance, people can show appreciation for the idea of galleries now standing on their spaces, blocking them from the development cycle in which the investors elevate their projects by asking artists and galleries to let space at huge discounts. Then once the projects begin and property values rise, they no longer need the artists who are forced to relocate due to rising rents. For this reason, Arroyo explains that owning an art gallery, studios, house, can ensure greater stability for artists.

Artist Current Work

Eddie Arroyo currently does not have an exhibition on display. However, he does have his new collection on his page for sale. The project was inspired by his recent insolvent in different originations that are advocation on gentrification. It all started after experiencing the official designation meeting of Little Haiti in 2016, Arroyo has been of the activist organization, and he has been volunteering for the Haitian Women of Miami. Since then, Arroyo has been very active in the Haitian community. After he realized how unaware segregation has kept of the Haitian history, he was determined to change his knowledge and to share gentrification in Little Haiti with others. Arroyo’s current works are mostly focused on cultural identification and gentrification in Little Haiti and Chinatown in New York City. His new painting reflects on advocating for his community. Arroyo found himself becoming more conscious of his role as a citizen.

Eddie Arroyo, FTP 2 (2019)
Courtesy of the Artist and Spinello Projects

In this painting, “FTP 2 (2019).” Arroyo was inspired by revolution. Little Haiti is about culture, it’s about family and now their neighborhood has been taking over by people who do not care about the history of the place. This painting shows the community’s anger, their commitment to fighting in order to keep their place safe. According to the residents, the investor should invest in Little Haiti instead of trying to rebuild it.

Eddie Arroyo, “June 20th, 2019, Little Haiti is not for sale”
Courtesy of the Artist and Spinello Projects

Arroyo’s work is reflecting the people fighting against the threats of displacement. In a documentary, “Little Haiti Confronting Gentrification” by FIU, the community came together to express their concerns. They said that Little Haiti is their home and they will not abandon it. Arroyo shared the video with me when asked about his project inspiration.  “June 20th, 2019, Little Haiti is not for sale” to “FTP 2 (2019)”

Experience with the Artist

Working with Eddie Arroyo was a fantastic experience and it was most educational. He was friendly with a very positive attitude.  His work is advocating on social issues in our hometown, especially gentrification. The fact that Arroyo is using his skills in painting to uplift those neighborhoods is quite inspirational and meaningful. As a Haitian immigrant, I was able to relate to his work in a meaningful way. I was even learning about my own history from him. Arroyo is very well-informed and takes pride in his responsibility in his movement for cultural identification and gentrification. He inspires me to be more active in my community.  

Above all, I am glad that I had the chance to learn a lot of new ideas on painting and how gentrification is affecting the lower class in Miami. After the interview on zoom, I felt like I had a lot more to learn. 

Works Cited

ASC Fall 2019: The world Erotic Art by Abigael Derlise

Erotic Art is Not Porn


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Abigael J. Derlise is a senior majoring in International Business with a certificate in International Trade and Investment at Florida International University. After graduation, she plans on pursuing a career in supply chain and operation. She will be the first one in her family to graduate college. She loves adventure, traveling, reading, and dancing. She is also very passionate about helping children, especial the orphans because she believes that they are the future. Her long-term goal is to build schools and orphanages in third world counties. 


View of the WEAM, photo by Abigael

The World Erotic Art Museum (WEAM) is located on Washington Avenue and 12th Street on the second floor of the Wilzig building, and there is a Starbucks on the first floor. On Washington Avenue, around the museum, there are a few night clubs and few restaurants. The wolf museum is one block north from the WEAM. The WEAM is at a five minutes’ walk from the beach makes it very accessible to the public. People can explore the museum after hanging out on the beach or before clubbing at night. The Weam is well situated; consider tourist flight from all over to visit South Beach.


The World Erotic Art Museum, located on Washington and 12th street, in Miami, was founded by Naomi Wilzig in 2005 after her son, Ivan Wilzig, started decorating his apartment with erotic art. Naomi Wilzig, who was the widow of Siggi Wilzig, a holocaust survivor, was originally a fine antique collector who knew nothing of erotic art. Seeing the potential for the art genre, she spent 15 years traveling the world searching high and low for the pieces that would make up the greatest erotic art collection. Her travels took Wilzig to many countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, and beyond and led to many discoveries. Her discoveries included but were not limited to fertility amulets in Greece and Egypt to a 25 pound naturally occurring geode in Brazil that is shaped as penis, to the shunga books which are written prints of sexual acts that were rumored to have been used for instructional materials for newlywed nobles in the 17th to 19th centuries. Wilzig faced a considerable uphill battle to find a suitable location to showcase her collection. Many cities from St. Petersburg to other cities did not greenlight the creation of the museum stating that it was too similar to adult entertainment. The main reasoning for the thought of adult entertainment stems from the extreme amount of puritanical beliefs within our country. Erotic art and depictions are considered to be extremely rescued and inappropriate by many, especially when seen outside of the privacy of one’s dwelling. As a result of the U.S.’s religious views, the World Erotic Art Museum (WEAM) is the only major collection of erotic art outside of the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas. Willig did not allow that to define her work as Miami opened to be accepting of her work. The Washington area is a great place for the WEAM as it hosts a large nightlife scene attracting a more open crowd of people.

This mission of WEAM is simple; it is “We collect, preserve and present works of erotic art of the highest quality from diverse cultures. We embrace our responsibility to engage and educate our community, to contribute to cultural knowledge and erotic art history.”. The purpose of the museum is not only to collect works of erotic art, but to also educate the community on the history and future of erotic works as well as why it is important to have erotic works of art. With today’s society lacking the knowledge and accepting the culture, the need of WEAM promoting and teaching the history and importance of erotic art is an important step towards a future where more museums and locations can showcase erotic art.



The WEAM is located inside of the WILZIG Museum building. The admission desk is on the first floor in the lobby. The only to get to the museum is through the elevator, which is 100 feet from the front desk. Only those 18 years or over are allowed in the museum. There are no special discounts for students, military, seniors, and residents at the WEAM. The museum does not have a membership program. The museum has monthly special events to give free access to the public. General Admission – $20

There is a combination ticket rate to encourage more people to visit the George Daniel Museum.

Combination Ticket – $25

Combination Ticket for Students, Military, Seniors (+60) – $18

The WEAM has different artist from all over the world in a collection. Some of the most important collections are The Realism, The P and P, and Native North America.

The WEAM has different artists from all over the world in a collection. Some of the most important collections are Realism, The P and P, and Native North America. 

The Realism collection has T Watson – American Artist – bronze polychromed sculpture c. 2000 and Franz Dietz– oil on canvas. 

Franz Dietz, the artist, paints women entangled with one another in a vertical pillar-like structure. The pile of bodies seems disorganized and unintentional, however within the chaos is order. Each woman is vital in maintaining the integrity of the structure.

T Watson sculptures depict a central theme: self exploration and sensual femininity. Masturbation often has a negative stigma attached to the act in western cultures. This artists creates liberty in self expression through these sculptures. 

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T watson- bronze polychromed sculpture, Franz Dietz- oil on canvas c.1950

 P and P Collection consist of unknown artists.

Vagina wall- imagine entering a home and seeing this work hanging on someone’s wall. There is something definitely remarkable about it: firstly, the shape of the piece is not on the usual square or rectangle canvas. It’s in the oblong shape of the vulva. The wall depicts the true uniqueness of a woman’s genitalia. Each one looks blatantly different from the other, which adds an air of personification and relatability.

Wall of Vaginas- Unknown artist
Wall of vaginas- unknown artist,

Gold sparkly- the artist intertwines ‘glitz n’ glam’ with smut. This figure is bedazzled with jewels that make it look quite expensive. It’s a paradox that challenges the mind, and it’s conditioning to social norms.

Display case of dildos- Looking at this display case of dildos is almost like window shopping for shoes or jewelry at a mall. The case has a plethora of varieties ranging from a dildo-banana to a mug with a penis as the spout. The setup of these sex toys and trinkets normalizes the exhibition of inanimate sex objects.

Native North America

African Indigenous figurines- the ultimate display of male fertility is shown via these wood carvings. They seem to have the same origin (even though some sculptures were found in central/South America while others were found in Africa) because more than half of the figures had exaggerated genitalia often extending to the ground. These male figurines are the counterparts to the well-known Venus Figurines dating to the Neolithic era, whose robust features represent female fertility and vitality. 

African Sculptures- Unknown artist
Native African- unknown artist


 Currently, all the exhibitions at the World Erotic Art Museum are permanent.  


The World Erotic Art Museum has several informational events from how to talk to your kids about porn to how to lick a vagina. 

Sketchy Nudes: is a monthly event where students from different drawing levels come to WEAM for a figure drawing class with a live nude model. Students usually receive critics from a well-known artist. 

Yoga for better sex: is a yoga class taught by sexologist and yoga instructor Sonjia Kenya. The class combines aspects of yoga strategies to provide a secure place for learners to connect to their inner sensual self. 

Tea & sex is a monthly event where people come together for a roundtable discussion to explore a variety of topics related to human sexuality. 


In-person interview with a first-time visitor named Shania at the WEAM 

Q1 “What made you visit the World Erotic Art today?”

I came to the museum to explore more outside of what my parents told. Growing up, sex was not hidden from me, unlike other people. I know a lot of parents do not talk to their kids about sex. 

Q2 “What is your favorite piece?”

I like Chinese Art because it looks like a cradle to a temple. 

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Japanese art- unknown artist

Q3 “Do you remember anything you read from the labels?”

I was trying to memorize the wooden sculptures of African Art, but most of the artist’s names and origins were unknown. 

Q4 “What comments do you have on the museum?”

I like it, and I am glad that I came. There are a lot of pieces from different places, and I have never seen a sexual art from an African tribe. I like the layout because it’s not too confusing. One thing I don’t like is that the museum didn’t provide enough information. Anything they could have provided should have been provided. It would be nice to know where certain arts came from. 

Q5 “How would you describe the most memorable part of your visit today?”

I walked in and the shock of seeing everything. I know it’s an erotic museum, and I was expecting to see them — the shock and slowly getting used to being comfortable in the museum. 

Q6 “If you could describe the collections in one word, what would it be? 

I would say notable, but that is not enough to describe them. The collections are unforgettable and remarkable. They will definitely be engraved in my memory. 


 In-person interview with the WEAM manager Geovanny.

Q1 “What inspired you to manage the museum?”

I knew the collector; I grew up with her, and I understand the significance of her collection. To open a museum like this, one requires the right person, second the financial means to do it. Having those two combines is a lifetime opportunity. In another word, she’s my inspiration. 

Q2 “What do you like most about working here?”

The diversity of the people who come to visit from all over the world. 

Q3 “What does the museum represent to you?”

What it means to mean, I understand the significance of her collection, and I want to change the public outlook on erotic art. I don’t think there’s a definitive line between erotism and porn. A good example is in Europe, a woman being topless is not a big thing, but also you can see a commercial with topless people and here in the U.S. is different. I don’t understand why, but I know it has a lot to do with the church. 

Q4 “As a manager, what is your goal for the WEAM?”

There is no authority to differentiate art and porn. Our goal is to be the authority; the FCC can come to us for guidelines on porn and erotic art. We also want to educate the public so they can know that this museum is all about art and not porn. 


When walking into the World Erotic Art Museum, one can find itself in either an awkward position or a shocking moment. Awkward since some believe that erotic art is pornography, and the arts at the WEAM are very explicit so they could easily be categorized as porn. I enjoyed walking through the museum, seeing art from different times and countries. I could have enjoyed it more if there was more information on the artist or the art itself. It was hard to find someone to help with questions; the staffs are not accessible. I like their events because they are very informational, and they are helping us change our perception of erotic art, sex, and porn. 


ASC Service Project 2019 by Abigael Derlise

Pinecrest Garden entrance, photo by Abigael

I love being out in a garden, connecting with mother nature. I believe that we need make some serious changes in order to save our planet. I had the chance to contribute to a sustainable project. The service I partook in was at Pinecrest Garden in Miami, Florida.  In December 2002, Pinecrest Garden was purchased by the village of Pinecrest Village.  It’s a beautiful botanical garden on a 14-acre land. It was named Perrot jungle before, and it was founded in 1936 by Franz and Louise Scherr.

The event in which I participated was TROLLS by Thomas Dambo. Thomas is an artist from Denmark; he travels around the globe with his crew to build giant sculptures, from recycled items that become characters in playful stories. His mission is to encourage others to rethink their beliefs about trash. In his stories, he educate others on the importance of sustainability in a playful way. about trash.  

Terje troll, photo by Abigael

I had the opportunity to work alongside the artist, Thomas Dambo. I was tasked to organize the woods by length and shape so it could be more comfortable for the workers to use. I also helped to take apart pallets, cutting the lumber. I had the chance to work with tools and be part of building the trolls. Being able to take part in something that is changing our view of sustainability makes me feel like I am contributing to the future generation.

Lacey Bray | Educational Program Coordinator

Address: 11000 Red Road Pinecrest, Fl 33156

Art Society Conflict: Abigael Derlise

My name is Abigael Derlise and I’m a junior at Florida International University. I’m majoring in International Business and hope to pursue a career in corporate banking. I took this class because I want step out of my comfort zone and expose myself to something different. Through this course, I hope to learn more and really understand the world of art.

“Your Story” by Abigael Derlise of FIU at Norton Museum

I lived in palm beach county for eight years, and never did I had the chance to visit the Norton Museum of Art. On September 22, 2019, I had the opportunity to explore the Norton Museum of Art with my classmates. The museum is full of amazing paintings from all over the world. Although Norton Museum of Art has a lot of extensive collection, there was just that one piece that felt connected to the most. I felt like the painting was drawing me closer and closer. The painting is disturbing, but the most hauntingly beautiful art I have ever seen. I chose to analyze “Your Story, My Curse” one of Wangechi Mutu’s work because it very convoluted. She made this beautiful piece out of paper, paint, glider, and beads.  

Wangechi Mutu: Your Story, My Curse

What has most drawn me to the painting is the third figure’s head shape and components. It is very complex and can be interpreted differently based on the viewer.  I think the figure is a demon which appears in a human and animal shape. The half-human animal’s head is in the form of a skull and a black man holding a woman legs open. The half-beast lady, which I think is a demon, is a combination of characteristics that society criticizes women. In my opinion, the demon is detaching from the two women with all their baggage. Perhaps what Wangachi Matu is trying to project to the audience is that, what one believes pleasure, identity, and culture to be might be an illusion.

“Forgotten” by Abigael Derlise of FIU at Deering Estate

The Deering Estate used to be the home of Charles Estate. Years, after he died the Estate, was purchased by the State of Florida and now turned into an environmental preserve. That is all I knew of the Deering Estate until my visit.

My experience at the Deering Estate was mind-blowing. Learning about the real history of Miami opened my eyes of how us, human, can wipe out an entire tribe and their history from the earth.  How we can be so selfish and wicked It gave me a different perspective on humanity and Miami.

One of the hikes was to the Tequesta burial mount. That day was the first time in my life that I had ever heard of the Tequesta. The Tequesta tribe, a tribe that is part of Miami history, is completely gone with nothing left behind. At that moment, I started thinking of my “history.” It made me question the story of my ancestors, my past, my life. I cannot even imagine being forgotten, just the thought of it is excruciating. We want to live our footmark behind, even if it means destroying others in the process. We want to believe that we are different. How different are we really when we return to dust? Some find peace under an oak tree   

The Tequesta Burial Mound

Looking at one of the oldest and largest Oak trees in Miami was sentimental. I am at peace now, knowing that the Tequesta story is not all forgotten. A little part them still remain under that 500 hundred years old Oaktree.

“Wynwood as Text” by Abigael Derlise of FIU at The Margulies Collection

Not many people know of the artistic side of Miami. Whenever people hear vacations in Miami, they usually associated with the beautiful beaches and the exciting night clubs. Before I took Art Society Conflict, I was part of that group, and I viewed art differently. I never used to take the time to understand and interpret what the artist is projecting fully. After visiting The Margulies Collection, my perception has changed. Mr. Margulies gave us a tour of his collection and shared his story of why he started collecting. I was surprised when he told us that he didn’t know to paint anything. I thought someone had to be an artist in order to collect and open a gallery.

My favorite exhibition was Kishio Suga. Kisha Suga is a Japanese artist, and he is part of a movement called Mono-ha, which means “school of thing.” The idea behind the move is to take natural and industrial materials such as concrete, wood, and arrange them to make a piece.   He wanted to show the reality of things/material and the situation that keep them together. Anything can be created from his work. After Mr. Margulies explained what Suga’s work means and the story behind it, I was in awe.

We also visited The De la Cruz Collection and we fortunate that Mrs. De La Cruz was there to share her inspiring story with us. It was definitely an unforgettable experience.

“Secret garden” by Abigael Derlise of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya is one of the best culture experience Miami has to offer. Taking a trip to Vizcaya, it is like taking a trip to old Europe except in modern Miami. The museum was built by a retired millionaire, James Deering, back in 1912.  Although Vizcaya is one of America’s most endangered historic places, not everyone in Miami knows the real story of how the museum was built.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya has been one of my favorites museums and gardens to visit in Miami, and in the last six months, I have been at least three times. I never knew that there was a secret room in the garden facing the ocean until Professor Bailly mentions it. It made me realized that one can visit a place a million times and still missed out on details if one does not know the real story of the place.

When we walked trough the secret garden, I was draw by the architecture. I love how James wanted to control nature and hired an architect to design it. What I love the most about the secret garden is the story behind it. In the 1900s people in different social class were not allowed to communicate. In Europe, there was a place where social differences did not matter and was in a garden. James brought Europe in Miami; it had a secret garden in villa with benches for couples to sit on while they are loving on each other in the free zone. Vizcaya is the perfect place for an ancient history romance.

Design District as Text” by Abigael Derlise of FIU at the Institute of Contemporary Art

The infinity room. A room where nothing else matters. In the infinity room, only the lights matter.

Visiting the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) was the highlight of this semester. It made me realize how little I know of the art world. Yayoi Kusama is a famous Japanese artist, and people flight across the globe to see her work only to spend one minute in the infinity room. I had no idea of her existence nor her work. I found Kusama to be an extraordinary artist, to take material that we overlook in our daily lives and create something so magical, so complex yet so simple is incredible. Standing inside of the cube felt like I was on another planet, and for one minute, I forgot about every single issue I have in my life. I was free, nothing else mattered. Her work “, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins,” made feel so small, yet so powerful. Kusama removed herself from society by checking in a mental institution. I believe that her state of mind inspires her art, and she is allowing others to experience her freedom but only for a moment. She finds peace in her work, and that is the only way she can express herself. 

After visiting the “Infinity Room,” we explored ICA, and we saw some vast collection of contemporary art. Sterling Ruby is a contemporary artist, and his works are conceptual by nature, which means the concept is more important than the physical work. Sterling creates art with no meaning and lets the audience interpret it; however they desire. His work also makes induvial question social constraint. How we interpret art reflects our belief, we want it to represent something, to represent ourselves.

“Art as Text” by Abigael Derlise of FIU at Art Basel Fair

Art as Text “Basel”

Every year people come from all over the world to participate in the fair. It all started in Basel, Switzerland 1970 by a trio of Swiss gallerists. They wanted to represent their artists and bring collectors and curators from all over the globe. What they envisioned turned out to be the beginning of an international fair.

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Our class at Untitled Art Fair, photo by Abigael

In December 2002, Miami was selected as an ideal second destination for Art Basel. Every year during the fair, people from all over the globe, artists, gallerists, art collectors gather during the week of the fair to purchase, collect the world’s best contemporary arts. Some people, like myself, go to admire the artworks.

From both Untitled Art and Art Context fair, we saw contemporary art from Ghana to Israel, and we were able to understand the artists’ works. At that moment, I realized that art is influential, and one can communicate with others fully with language barriers.

Untitled Art primarily first-hand market, galleries sells only the artist works. On the other hand, Art Context had both first-hand and second-hand markets. One exhibition I found myself drawn to the most at Art Context was the “Freedom Project” Mira Maylor.

“Freedom Project” Mira Maylor, photo by Abigael

She’s an artist from Israel, and we had the chance to hear the meaning behind her project. A fragile cage that society locks itself in from freedom. We get so comfortable in our prison (life) that we are not aware of our prison.  Even though our freedom is one natural break away because we are so frightened of the unknown, it keeps us locked in the cage. Mira project made me rethink the meaning of freedom in our society.


“Blackness as Art” by Abigael Derlise at Bakehouse Art Complex

When I walked in Bakehouse, I felt like I belong there. The place was pleasant, and the people were welcoming. Bakehouse Art Complex, founded in 1985 by artists, is a non-profit art serving organization in Miami. Its mission is to provide affordable live and studio residences for artists in Miami’s urban core.  Bakehouse has roughly 100 residents; it also has tables for students to study during the days that they are open. We visited a few studios; each artist gave us a tour of their studio.

Rhea Leonard is a second-year resident at the Bakehouse Art Complex. Her practice consists of drawing, sculpture, and printmaking. She focuses on the black body and mind, how being black in white supremacist society affects black psychology.

“Outcry” Rhea Leonard Photo by Abigael

This piece shows a black man growing out of a tree but somehow still cannot detach himself from the tree. He managed to overcome his obstacles, but the damages have been done, now they can never leave him. My interpretation of this piece is no matter how hard we try to be better and surpass the standard white supremacist project on our life (people of color) we can never be free because the scars are too dip.  Even after we choose to take our path, to leave out past behind us, if the negative thoughts, expectations, and traumas are not dealt with properly, we will never be able to detach ourselves from our past. This piece can be interpreted differently, and it can also inspire the audience to challenge their mind.

“Self As Art” by Abigael Derlise at Rubell Museum

After having a private collection for 26 years, Don and Mera have now opened a private museum to showcase their private collections. They also change the name from “The Rubell Family Collection” to “The Rubell Museum. The Rubell Museum is the first private modern art in America. In 2002, it was the first private collection to get a contract with Art Basel in Miami.

The Rubell family has over 7,200 pieces in its art collection. The Rubell Museum has collected over 7,200 pieces over 50 years, and now they are displayed in the museum. They collect art that reflects socials issues and communicate to the audience. Tschabalala Self is one of the artists at The Rubell Museum. Her arts question the ideas about the black female body. In her practice, the ideas that society has on the black female body are both accepted and rejected.

In this piece, I think she is trying to tell a story of voyeurism. One can look at the woman and assumed that she does not appreciate her curves, or she is using her “big ass,” as they say, to seduce men. Is that really what the black female body represent? I think society makes it so much harder for black women to feel confident in their bodies. Tschabalala made me analyze her work on a deeper level. Her arts have the power to make anyone question their perceptions.


“Printmaking as Text” by Abigael Derlise at MDC

Professor Jennifer showing her process
Photo credit: Abigael

The process of printmaking is complex and creative. It is one of the oldest art forms. Several thousand years ago, people used to duplicate images on stones and that is how the idea of printmaking came to life. Professor Jennifer Basile of Miami Dade College generously opened her classroom to our art class. She taught us, in great detail, the process of creating a monoprint. To begin, we were taught to mix the paint on the table. We proceeded to use the roller to paint the glass until it was covered and opaque. After the glass was painted, we were instructed to use our hands or tools like brushes and towels to create designs in the paint. Once we were satisfied with our designs, we added a wet paper over the glass and put it through a very large metal press. The press then magically spit out our works of art. Understanding the process of printmaking allows for a deeper appreciation of the work put into create prints.

I can now look at art in an artist’s eyes. I am able to notice, and critic other artists works differently. Now that we have gained the experience and the knowledge, we will never overlook the art world.

“Deering as Text” by Abigael Derlise

Photos by John Bailly CC by 4.0

The Deering Estate is one of Miami’s gems. When it comes to exploring Miami’s outdoors, The Deering Estate is a spot that cannot be missed. The Deering Estate was the home of Charles Deering- a Chicago preservationist, environmentalist, an art collector. The Deering Estate is both a museum and an ecological preserve. At the Deering Estate, one can explore nature to its fullest, from learning about different plants, site seeing, visit the Tequesta burial mount, learn about solution holes, birds watching, canoeing and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

My first time going to the Deering Estate, I visited two different trails, the Paleo-Indian archaeological Cutler Fossil site and the Tequesta burial mount. I learned that there was a tribe of Tequesta living on the land of Deering Estate. The burial mount we were standing on is one of only two Tequesta burial sites. It was my first time learning about the Tequesta and the real history of Miami.

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Photos by Abigael CC by 4.0

The Cutler Fossil site is not usually open to the public, but sometimes, the staff allows people to hike to the site. We were fortunate to hike the site with our tour guide. The Cutler Fossil is a watering hole, and we saw a residual of Pleistocene beasts. From where we were standing, we could hear the cars passing by, but the site is hidden from the road.

Through the walking tour, Professor Bailly created, I found that the Deering Estate allows free access for canoeing, kayaking, and so much more to Biscayne bay. A day at the Deering Estate can be both educational and relaxing.

“Miami as Text” by Abigael Derlise

To most people, going to South Beach means either going to enjoy the beach, shopping or partying. I was part of that category before I read the South Beach lecture that professor Bailly wrote. I moved to Miami mainly because of South Beach ambiance and culture. I now know that there is more to SoBe that partying, eating, and enjoying the beach. SoBe history is so important to know in order to appreciate the beauty in everything it has to offer.

Before Carl Fisher developed Miami Beach, it was a small town. Everyone had a place there; blacks and whites knew each other. Miami had always brought people together. To most people, South Beach was a wasteland before Fisher’s development. In reality, the real history is hidden, meaning the people who had long lived the city has been erased. The Tequesta were on the land 10,000 years ago; South Florida has archeological evidence of it. After the Tequesta inhabitation came the African Americans and Afro-Bahamians. Carl Fisher did a fantastic thing by developing South Beach. However, his innovation brought segregation to South Beach.

In the 19th century, Jew began to move in Miami, Fisher and Flagler decimated against them. Other people started to treat them the same. Landlords and business owners were placing signs on their properties to let them know that they were not welcome there. People of color did not belong there. Because South Beach has always being a place of community, it had to change over time for the better. Now it is the most “must visit” site in the state.
I cannot wait to go back to South Beach after the Quarantine to walk down Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive.