MOAD as Text France Spring 2020

“I’m the Map” by Connor Grim, at Freedom Tower MOAD

I stick out in Miami. Contrary to Orlando, my home city, Miami and its surrounding metropolitan area is a place where an innumerable amount of cultures come into contact; my home city is a place full of chain restaurants and Americanized individuals- neither of which is inherently a bad thing. I am very much a product of that kind of society, being a white man whose family has been in the states for as long as we can trace back. Because of this, I stuck out at the Freedom Tower as well. I do not believe, however, that this affected my appreciation for the building and its significance. Although I could not relate to the thousands who emigrated into the city through the tower nor the children who were scattered across the nation, I was able to feel it.

What I felt at the tower is paralleled by what I felt my first year at FIU: Real people belonging to authentic, living cultures that I had only heard references of or seen in media. Of course I have met non-white, non-hispanicLITE people before in my life, but through interacting with those cultural contexts on a daily basis and seeking to know people at a deeper level, I was put onto the weight their cultural context played in their identity. It’s the same for those involved in the freedom tower, whether it was the cultures that inspired its architecture, those who were processed into the states through it, or the creators and subjects of the various cultural artifacts throughout the exhibition, such as a few early maps of Florida.

In these maps I found a past version of myself, one who only had a rough idea of the cultural landscape present in the states. Just as the early Europeans, I know Florida better through exploration. I do hope to bring less disease and racism along with me, though.

France Spring 2020 As Texts: Connor Grim

” I’m not James Deering; An Introspection” by Connor Grim FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
As I sat down to write this assignment, looking for a picture I had taken to pair with whatever I was going to write, I realized that the foolishly silly Snapchat you see before you is the only evidence of me ever being at Vizcaya; this was the one and only thing I thought worthy enough to preserve forever as a photograph. Initially, I was dismayed, but as I reflected about my experience at Vizcaya and what the property meant to me, I gathered that this lion begging for reprieve was an accurate reflection of what truly stimulated me about the mansion: The ideal of taking something from another time, another context, and bending it, warping it to fit what appealed to me. It is evident Deering did much the same as he embarked on creating Vizcaya.

I mean, come on. Vizcaya is an ancient Mediterranean, humanistic French, gilded, seaside beacon to the gods built by a gay, racist inheritor from Maine. This man, James Deering, and his house were together as rococo as most of the rooms located within, and that’s where I found my connection to the manor. Its sporadic, half revivalist half paradigm-breaking style is what I could relate to the most. The utter subjectivity Deering had when it came to what he was working with, much less the practicals and moreso the themes associated with them, is something I enjoy seeking for myself; music, humor, architecture- in any realm.

I could see myself in James Deering, making many of the same moves he did. A painful attention to symmetry, “J’ai Dit” cresting the windows I would stand under, painted marble upon the walls: Truly, had I been in his position, I doubt our visions would look dissimilar. I would have adorned my halls with beasts that looked like pathetic excuses for lions, attempted to legitimize my presence in Miami as the second coming of Ponce De Leon, and maintained my garden meticulously.

However, I am not James Deering. I am blessed with being born with the privilege of regarding non-whites and non-males equal to myself (I find Deering’s anti-minority moat in equal aspects pitifully hilarious and sickening). Sure, I see myself rebuilding Vizcaya much the same should I have been in Deering’s shoes, but not in a vain attempt to sneer down at other wealthy, but less-wealthy, property owners. No, I would stand underneath “J’ai Dit” in irony, mock my lions, boast in my curator’s talents in picking artworks the significance of which I could never understand. I wouldn’t front. At least, I hope not. No, I believe my humor would remain much the same as “noo pwease noooo dont pwease no.”