Italia 2020 As Text: Daniela Valdes Posada

I am an International Relations and Poli Sci major with only one semester to go before graduation. I hope to one day work on Capitol Hill. I love to WATCH sports, specifically soccer. I am 20 years old and was born in Cuba but raised in Miami and I do not like cafecito.

“A Hoarder’s Compromise” by Daniela Valdes Posada of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

James Deering was nothing if not the most particular man on the planet. But it seems he collected just about everything he thought was valuable inside of Vizcaya. Every room inside of Vizcaya was full of something. Whether it was artwork or furniture or just a room of a bunch of different types of tile.  It seems like James saw something and he HAD to have it. Every single room in his “house” was filled, with just enough room to get from one door to another. His office was full of bookshelves of fake books and the walls with pictures of random children, all in his effort to appear to be a regular man. But this is the only way that James tried to be a regular man. In every other aspect he had to be best and have the most. There were rooms full of furniture and about 500 places to sit, although the placement of the furniture was odd and did not seem like it was meant to be sat on. James reminds me of my dad, who picks up and takes home everything he finds, even if we already have 3 of them. Except James collected items most people would kill for and that cost thousands of dollars. And my dad picks up everything he sees at the thrift store or dumpster downstairs. So I think it’s safe to say that like my father, James Deering was a hoarder, and Vizcaya was his Hoarder’s paradise, given its large amount of useless rooms. 

But while the interior of Vizcaya was a hoarder’s paradise, when he got to the outside, someone said “Enough.”  Even though there are thousands of different plants and flowers on the exterior of the house, there is plenty of open space. The amount of land that James Deering owned with Vizcaya was so extensive that Deering has several large stairs and gardens and different structures outside of the main house. Although it cannot be said that he did not do the most, considering his random balls of grass and elaborate raw artwork. I think Vizcaya provided the perfect land and structure to give James everything he wanted, with its extensive acreage and space, inside and out. 

“The First Ten Minutes” by Daniela Valdes Posada of FIU at Museum of Art and Design

I was tempted to call this piece “Completely missing the point” because that’s what I felt I was doing during this whole day. We set out on this excursion to further our understanding of how Rome is everywhere and throughout the whole day we pointed out all the roman inspired architecture and art. And I understood it, I did, but there was a part of me that could not manage to connect to anything we learned about or saw, because my brain was stuck on the first ten minutes we spent at the Freedom Tower.

Even before we arrived I was nervous, I didn’t know how I was going to feel when I was standing inside the place in the US that possibly means most to my people. But the first ten minutes proved that my reaction would not be a slight one, although I think I did a pretty good job at hiding the fact that I was choking up the whole time, what with my silence and pretty dark glasses. The first ten minutes at the Freedom Tower were full of awe but also sadness. I had heard the story of what the Freedom Tower was before, but I somehow didn’t expect it to be so in my face. The first thing we took note of was a sculpture outside the building of a young boy carrying a house on his back, from the Pedro Pan operation, and already I had a million thoughts in my head but the main one was “pusimos la casa completa en una maleta” which translates to “we put the whole house in a suitcase”. It’s a line from a song on the Hamilton mixtape titled ‘Immigrants’. And it made me feel like I was that kid, with the house in a suitcase. It made me feel like everyone I knew was the kid, with the house in a suitcase.

I grew up in Miami and that meant most of my friends were little hispanic kids, who like me, had put their whole house in a suitcase. Most of us came from another country really young, I was 3 years old. And my grandparents weren’t Pedro Pan kids, but it feels like my parents and I were. We left Cuba with our whole house in a suitcase, to cheesily pursue “the American Dream” and we’ve done just that. So in the first ten minutes, looking at the pictures of all the little Pedro Pan kids who came here alone, and all went through the Freedom Tower, exactly where I was standing, made me unable to wonder anything except whether they too, had achieved the “American Dream”. I spent the rest of the day stuck on those first ten minutes.