France 2020 Ineffable Miami: The Hammocks by Diana Cristancho

STUDENT BIO

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
Picture by Liliana Rios

My name is Diana Cristancho and I am a resident of Miami. I’m a student at Florida International University and I am studying Recreational Therapy. I’ve lived in West Kendall all my life, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced a large part of Miami. For elementary, middle, and high school, I commuted at least a 45 minute ride to school. I’ve gone from the most western side of Miami to the east coast. I can get around Miami without a GPS and even still I discover new parts of the city every day. When I went to high school at MAST Academy in Key Biscayne, I made friends who lived in the Hammocks. Ever since, I’ve spent most of my time hanging out in the restaurants, parks, and stores in the area. It has now become a second home to me.

GEOGRAPHY

Image by Google Maps

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, The Hammocks is located west of SW 137th Ave, south of SW 88th St, east of SW 177 Ave, and north of SW 120th St. It is 6 miles west of what the U.S. Census Bureau recognizes as Kendall. Most people who live in the Hammocks consider it as Kendall since it is along Kendall drive. This is also because the landscape of the Hammocks, The Crossings, Kendall, West Kendall and other surrounding areas are made up of mostly town houses, parks, and lakes. That being said, the Hammocks has a total area of eight square miles, where 7.9 miles of it are land and o.2 square miles are water. The Hammocks almost accomplished its attempt to create a perfect community. It is family based, there are parks, lakes, recreational activities, restaurant, stores and community bonding activities and events.

HISTORY

The Hammocks is a barrier between developed land, and soil that is still used for agriculture. To the East, there are houses, stores, malls and buildings the further you go, but just about a mile left of the Hammocks, you hit farm land. For the longest time, that area has stayed untouched, but now a new mall with restaurants is being built. Cleaner roads are being paved, yet anything around chrome still stays untouched. The community of the Hammocks dates back to 1981 and is constantly developing, but before that time, it was just farmland tamed by crops. If you drive around the outskirts of the crossings you can see glimpse of water systems spraying agriculture. There isn’t very much information on this area, but as immigration increased and more people needed homes, the area of the Hammocks was created.

DEMOGRAPHICS

The hammocks has a large population of people that are hispanic. A good portion of those people are specifically Colombian. Because of this, the Hammocks is also jokingly called Little Colombia. This area has a population of 68,457, last recorded in 2017. Since 2000, there has been a change in population by +44.5%. Out of these individuals, 53.4% are female and 46.6% are male. While the number of individuals of each gender is almost even, the record of people of different ages is also very evenly spread out. There is no predominantly high population of a certain age. The age groups are split into eight categories, starting at less than ten years old and ending at more than 65 years old. Each one of these categories is between 8 and 16 percent. Nevertheless, the median age is 36.2 years old. In this area, the majority of the residents are white and hispanic. 85% are white, including white hispanic and 76.9% are hispanic. In terms of education levels, 34% have some college or associates, 24% have high school diplomas or have passed the GED, 23% have bachelor degrees, 10 percent have master’s degrees or higher, and 9% have less than a high school diploma. As for income, The median for a household is $68,076, where Florida’s median is $52,594.  As of 2017, 59% of the Hammocks population owns their homes. The other 41% are most likely taken up by a lot of young professionals in the neighborhood. In addition, the median house or condo value is $315,100 and the median gross rent is $1,766. All that being said, the Hammocks is a great area to start a family, especially since the public schools in the area are above average. According to NICHE, it is the best for young professionals, public schools, and people who want to start a family. 

INTERVIEW WITH LAURA BEDOYA, HAMMOCKS RESIDENT

How long have you lived in the Hammocks? 

15 years 

How would you describe living there? 

Calm and simple. 

Did you go to any of the parks when you were little? If so which ones? 

I usually just visit my local lake which is right next to Wild Lime Park. Most neighborhoods in the Hammocks have lakes and parks.

What is your favorite part about the Hammocks? 

It is where a lot of my friends and loved ones are. I have a lot of great memories here.

What schools did you attend? 

Claude pepper elementary, Christina M eve elementary, Hammocks middle school, and Mast academy.

What is your nationality? 

I’m Colombian. I was born there and then my family and I moved to Miami.

What is your favorite place to eat in the hammocks? 

Good question. There are lots of good Hispanic restaurants around like Charcoals, Sergios or El Torro Loco.

Do you take public transportation? 

Back when I was in high school I took the bus and the metro to school.

Are you or your family religious? 

My family is catholic.

LANDMARKS

WINGS OVER MIAMI MUSEUM

Picture by the Wings Over Miami

Although this museum is placed just off of the Hammocks, it is an important part of the community. All the residents of the Hammocks have experienced hearing the loud sounds of the airplanes pass by. Having to explain to their children that what is flying in the sky is a machine, not a bird. In addition, the Tamiami Airport takes a large portion of the area, almost half the size of the Hammocks area. “Wings Over Miami Air Museum serves as a tribute to those veterans and aviators who pioneered civilian and military aviation. The museum is for the education and enjoyment of all the community.” They are educated in the history of aircrafts and fly military and classic aircraft. They are open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM. Admissions and tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and $6 for children 12 and under.

OUR LADY OF LOURDES CATHOLIC CHURCH

Being a very hispanic community, many of the residents are religious, especially catholic. Having a temple of religion in a predominantly catholic area is very important in keeping the residents where they are. This in turn builds a more united community. Many of the believers find the priests and the staff at the church very welcoming and inspiring. They have a beautiful 24 hour chapel surrounded by blue and gold dedicated to the Virgin Mary. There are also areas around the church where you can light candles and give offerings. It makes the aura of the room very peaceful. They have services Monday through Friday at 8 AM in English and 7 PM in Spanish.  On Saturdays they have English services at 8 AM and Spanish services at 9 AM, while on Sundays they have English at 11:45 AM and Spanish at 1:30 PM. If you’re not religious yourself, it is still a wonderful place to visit and take in the architecture. 

STRAWBERRY FARM

The Strawberry farm on 94th street and 137th avenue is tradition. It has been three years. You can hand pick strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, peppers and sunflowers; something everyone in Miami has to do at least once. Tons of families in and outside of the hammocks area come to partake in this experience. There is nothing like walking down the rows of strawberry bushes and picking out the perfect basket strawberries. All the products picked are fresh, organic, and inexpensive. They are open everyday from 9 AM to 6 PM.

GREEN

The hammocks being very family oriented, parks are very important, whether it is to be used by adults, children, or animals. A lot of the recreational sports are played at the parks around the Hammocks to engage everyone in the community.

HAMMOCK COMMUNITY PARK

Hammocks Community Park, Picture by Miami Dade Parks and Recreation

The Hammocks has a variety of parks that many of the residents consistently go to, but Hammocks Community Park is the second largest park and the most popular. It is located at 9885 Hammocks Blvd, Miami, FL 33196. It is a free public park that is open Monday through Sunday from 8 AM to 8 PM. The park provides the public with a shaded children’s park, baseball fields, racquetball courts, a shelter, and access to a lake. At the park they have after care programs, baseball, football, basketball, and T-ball practices and games. The park is also right next to Hammocks Middle School, which gives the students a great place to hang out after school.

WILD LIME PARK

This park is another extremely important park that is surrounded by multiple home communities and provides them with a country club and a beautiful outdoor center. Many people of the surrounding communities could walk along the trail of the lake which leads to the back of the park. Recently though, they blocked the park off from the lake and its beaches due to safety purposes and a suicide accident that occurred by the lake. Now it is fenced off. Nevertheless, the park still has a lot of space and can be accessed by all the residents. This not-for-profit park is located at 14751 Hammocks Blvd, Miami, FL 33196. It is open Monday through Sunday from 7 AM to 7PM. The park consists of a shelter, large soccer fields, a children’s park, an outdoor gym, and the country club. The country club has a pool, an indoor gym, and tennis courts. This park is very popular for its soccer. The park is sometimes even called Wild Lime Soccer Park. This park is set apart from the others because they have bleachers and well as LED soccer field lights that allow night practices.

TRANSPORTATION

Most of the residents in the Hammocks use a car to move from place to place. Although this is true, many locals travel by bus. The bus that travels through the Hammocks is the Miami-Dade Metrobus. The most commonly used route is the 104 bus. It moves from the West Kendall Transit Terminal/ Park and ride lot to the Dadeland North Metrorail station. This route passes through Killian and Kendall drive. The reason this bus is very popular is because it passes by Miami-Dade College and many students use that as their form of transportation. The second reason is because it stops at the Metrorail, Which many residents take to either go to work or go to school.

FOOD: HA LA ORDEN

Q’ HUBO CAFE

Q’Hubo Cafe is a Venezuelan Colombian Restaurant located in Hammocks Town Center at  10201 Hammocks Blvd, Miami, FL 33196. They are open everyday from 7 AM to 6 PM. is a hole in the wall cafe where you can grab a quick and delicious bite to eat. Although it can be like a fast food restaurant, you can walk in and have a long enjoyable meal as well. The staff there are very friendly and are there to make your experience as great as it can be. The design of the shop is very typically hispanic with its red and yellow colors. The best part of this spot is of course the food. You can walk in and have a Venezuelan, Colombian, or Cuban meal. My personal favorite is the Venezuelan empanadas, but again you can choose which country you want your empanada from. It’s absolutely phenomenal. The prices of the plates are extremely inexpensive, especially for the quality of food you get. Not only is there food delicious but so are their drinks. Their Jugo de Mora, a shake made out of blackberries, and their Milo or equally my favorite drinks; it just depends if I’m in the mood for fruits or chocolate.

LOS TANITOS

Los Tanitos is an Argentinian Restaurant in The Shoppes at Westburry on 9564 SW 137th Ave, Miami, FL 33186. They are open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 AM to 8 PM. Their motto is, “If food is an experience, then you’ll find it at the restaurant” and they truly do give all diners an experience they’ll never forget. It is a family owned business and has been open since April 1, 1992. This makes it one of the longest lasting businesses in the area. It was originally named Che Tano and changed to Los Tanitos by the new owners and descendants  of the family. As it is passed down the family, they stay true to their Argentinian style and their three goals, “quality, service, and honestly.” If you decide to visit this restaurant, which I strongly advise you to, I suggest you pick up some fresh made churros before they run out. By the end of the day, there are never any left due to their deliciousness. Their empanadas are probably one of the best you will find in Miami and their steak is impeccable. I promise you that you can practically pick anything out of the menu and it will be the best Argentinian food you can find in Miami.

PALETA MANIA

Picture by Diana Cristancho

Paleta mania is one of the best discoveries I’ve made in the hammocks. You can usually only find stores that sell paletas in places like malls or in aesthetically pleasing locations such as Wynwood. Paletas are such a fun way to eat ice cream because let’s face it, everything is better on a stick. They are located at 16729 Sw 95th St Miami, FL 33196. The shopping center is very modern and unlike any of the architecture in the Hammocks. It resembles the Doral area and the white right fit townhouses. They have more than 20 flavors with natural fruits and/ low fat milk. It is a family run business from Venezuela that opened May 24, 2018.

BUSINESSES

KENDALL ICE SKATING ARENA

Image by the Kendall Ice Skating Arena

The Kendall Ice Skating Arena is one of the most popular businesses in the Hammocks. The building it is in was built in 2000 making it 20 years old. The rink has public skating, skating lessons, figure skating, hockey, and availability for birthday parties. When you go, you can rent out skates for $4 or bring your own, not including the $10 admission fee. At certain times of the day, rentals are free. The rink also has a summer camp where children can cool off from the hot Miami heat. In the rink they also have an arcade and a food stand. They sell hot dogs, popcorn, hot chocolate, pretzels, churros, and more. The rink is a great place to go out with your family, friend, or significant other. On specific days and times, they have Teen Night Club on ice. Not only is it great for teens, but it is also great for children, especially when the chicken comes out to do the chicken dance.

LOS PAISAS CARNICERIA

This store used to be one of my favorite spots as a child. Yes, it is a butcher store, but it is also a market for Colombian products. When I was younger, my Karate dojo was right beside this store. After my lessons, I would go to the store and buy little cans of Lecheritas, Jet chocolatinas, obleas, bon bones, frunas and cafecito sized arequipe cups. I always enjoyed my karate lessons, but going to Los Paisas made it even more enjoyable. If any Colombian is missing their food and culture, they can definitely come here to get a piece of home. Not only is their market top notch, but their meat is very high end. They also sell homemade chimichurri, fresh bread, and the best chorizo. If you’re on your way to have a barbecue, I suggest you stop here first.

JUNGLE GYM FITNESS SAFARI

Jungle gym fitness safari is a bus that travels to schools, daycares, camps, and special events and encourages physical activity in children. They make exercise fun to keep children strong and healthy. They have many fitness programs that engage the children physically and mentally. They have rock climbing, swinging, climbing and more. During their visits they always have a minimum of three trainers on the bus. 

SUMMARY

This neighborhood has always been like home to me. It has everything you need, and if I had to be trapped in one place with all my friends and family in Miami, it would probably be there. Like the person in my interview said, it’s calm and simple. There are always activities to engage in and people to meet. Something very unexpected was that there is a larger portion of the population that is white and caucasian rather than Hispanic. I had assumed that since most of my friends and family that lived in that area were Hispanic, that that was the majority of the population. Apart from that, this community works very well and resembles an almost perfect community. 

CITATIONS

(n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.miamidade.gov/transit/mobile/metrobus_routes.asp?routeID=104>

(n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://lospaisasmarketvirtual.com/

10355 Hammocks Blvd, Miami. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://clustrmaps.com/a/3tmpbl/

Maria A. (2019, October 26). Q’hubo Cafe – Miami, FL. Retrieved from https://www.yelp.com/biz/qhubo-cafe-miami

About. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from http://www.lostanitos.com/sample-page/

Hammocks Community Park. (2015, June 25). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://miamikidz.com/2010/parks-water-parks/kendall-parks/hammocks-community-park

Paleta Manía. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://paleta-mania.business.site/#posts

Public Ice Skating, Teen Night Club, Children, Adults, Dating, DJ. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.kendallicearena.com/public-skating

Stay Connected. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from http://www.ololourdes.org/Church/CatholicChurch.php

The Hammocks – Kendall, Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.neighborhoods.com/the-hammocks-kendall-fl

The Hammocks, Florida. (2020, April 12). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hammocks,_Florida

Wild Lime Park – Temp. CLOSED – Miami, FL. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.yelp.com/biz/wild-lime-park-miami

Wings Over Miami. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.wingsovermiami.com/

ASC Who Art Miami 2020: Agustina Woodgate

ARTIST QUOTE

Agustina Woodgate holding a piece of Oolite (2019), Photo by Diana Larrea

“A lot of my work has this feeling of displacement. I put things where they completely make sense but they’re not there. Some of my work is almost obvious but ridiculously enough no one has done it before which is the surprising part. I’m no genius, I’m just using common sense.

STUDENT BIO

My name is Diana Cristancho and I am a sophomore at Florida International University. I’m majoring in Recreational Therapy in the hopes of becoming an Occupational Therapist. I was born and raised in Miami, which has allowed me to experience the different parts of the city. Even though I have lived here all my life, there are a variety of places I haven’t visited. Due to this course, I have been able to visit and learn about a large part of the city and its history, as well as its connection to the art community.

BIOGRAPHY

Agustina Woodgate working on “The Source” (2019), Photo by Diana Larrea

Agustina Woodgate was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1981. She attended the National University of Visual Arts and studied visual arts and communication instead of fine arts since there isn’t a fine arts major in her country. It was a different kind of program that was focused on theories. After she finished her bachelor’s in 2004, she moved to Miami with her partner at the time. It was a spontaneous decision where she expected to stay in Miami for 1 to 2 years and ended up staying for 15. The first ten years of her life in Miami consisted of her getting her practice and career established. In the last five years of her life, she spent her time mostly outside of Miami. Two years ago she moved to Amsterdam after being invited to pursue her masters in Sandberg Instituut. Woodgate experienced a new form of education in the institution which led her to state, “it is one of the most interesting and best schools in design in Europe and perhaps in the world.” The Instituut used radical pedagogy which she described as a “different kind of model of organization in terms of knowledge and the institution itself.” At Sandberg, she was part of the PUB, a publishing platform where she worked with other students to experiment with different modes of publishing. She has also been a part of other smaller knowledge-sharing platforms. For example, in 2015 Woodgate was able to work with RAD (Research Art and Dialog) by Gean Moreno, who works for the ICA in Miami. Woodgate stated, “this was a turning point for me. Not only by the people that I met but also by the perspective that it allowed me to discover.” Another informal source of knowledge she worked with is the radio station she has been running for the past 10 years.

PERSONAL IDENTITY

All three images: Agustina Woodgate, Hopscotch, in Buenos Aires, Argentina (2014), Image courtesy Spinello Projects.

In Argentina, Woodgate had limited resources and made the most of everything she had. Now in her work, she is constantly recycling material and using objects that most people would consider trash and useless. For example, she stated, “my very early works were made from my hair that I found in my shower.” This encompasses a huge part in her work because not only is she being sustainable but the reuse of old items adds to the symbolism of her work. As a young girl, she would create comic books and engage in experiments with her brother as well as collect random objects. Her involvement in comic books and experiments can be seen as her creative and scientific qualities. She almost approaches her work like it’s a science experiment. She finds something that intrigues her, she researches it and then experiments with this new-found knowledge. She mentioned that she doesn’t usually have a set plan for her works. She tends to go wherever her research and mind takes her. 

In her childhood, she thoroughly enjoyed parks and playing in the streets. She translates this love of the outdoors in her works by exhibiting them in public spaces. Examples of these outdoor exhibits are “The Source” and “Hopscotch”. She stated, “I’m really into openness, not so much into artwork that is vernacular that you can’t access it.”Her “Stuffed Animal Toy Skins” are another example of how her childhood has affected her art. Her attachment to a teddy bear led to research on the connection between child development and stuffed animals. In the end, that research blossomed into the creation of her rugs.

CULTURAL IDENTITY

Top: Agustina Woodgate, RadioEE traveling through Miami on a 16 person bicycle (2017), Image courtesy Spinello Projects.
Bottom: Agustina Woodgate, RadioEE on a boat, in Miami (2017), Image courtesy Spinello Projects.

Although she was born and raised in Bueno Aires, she doesn’t focus her art on the culture of Argentina. However, her early childhood experience taught her to make the most of the resources she found around her. She said, “being Argentinian, you are resourceful. You don’t have a lot of stuff and in school, we only had one sink to clean our paintbrushes.” Even though she encompasses qualities of her life in Argentina, she feels her cultural identity isn’t from that culture alone but a variety of cultures derived by other people and the interactions between them. These interactions and interconnections between cultures are discovered through her radio station, RadioEE. It is an online, multilingual, and nomadic radio station that discusses the topic of movement and mobility. Being nomadic, they travel to different locations around the world and broadcast from different parts of the city. By constantly moving around the city and interacting with locals, Woodgate was able to experience their culture. Depending on each location, the conversation of movement and mobility would change. Being a multilingual radio requires adaptations to different languages as they broadcast in Portuguese, Turkish, Vietnamese, and Hmong. “We are lost in a world of radio,” said Agustina, but she still finds a way to turn her radio into a source that anyone can access. Through her radio, she fosters cultural relationships by introducing locals to their neighbors. That being said, she spreads cultures to the public through her projects and artwork as well. For example, in 2010, she participated in O, Miami Poetry Festival’s mission in making every citizen in Miami experience a poem. She had 50 character poems printed on clothing labels and visited thrift stores, illegally sewing the labels to the clothes. Poetry is a culture of its own and Woodgate took a huge part in involving others in the poetry community and its culture.

SUBJECT OF ARTWORK

Top: Agustina Woodgate, Milky Ways, Stuffed Animal Toy Skins (2013), Image courtesy Spinello Projects.
Bottom: Sanding maps, Image courtesy Spinello Projects.

Woodgate’s work taps into the knowledge and the relationships of people and their surroundings. She intends to fuel conversation about important subjects to the public. Her radio station is the means to achieve her objective. The broadcast promotes discussions on a variety of topics, but it also supplies her with new ideas and knowledge which in turn sparks her imagination and results in her unique creations. She explains, “I do a lot of research before I do a sculpture or anything, but a lot of it comes through the radio.” Her Radio focuses on the topic of movement and mobility around the world and engages in politics and policies. She pulls from this knowledge and does further research on each issue of conversation, making the radio an extension of her art, but also the center of her work. In “Stuffed Animal Toy Skins”, she researches and discovers the psychological meaning of Teddy bears and their influence on a child’s transition into adulthood, while also discussing human relationship to the animal world and the unnecessary need for humans purchasing different parts of animals. With her rugs, she takes the skins of stuffed animals and sews them together which looks identical to cow skins without actually killing an animal. Another piece that was greatly influenced by the radio was “National Times”. It is a set of 40 slave clocks run by a master clock. She didn’t know what a master clock was until one of her segments in Washington D.C. led her to visit the master clock in the U.S. Naval Observatory. There she discovered its role and its function. After that, she purchased 40 slave clocks and explored the clock’s network and how to program it.

An important part of her art includes the deconstruction of her research and the material she attains for her pieces. This is reflected in her radio project in the constant movement of materials and equipment needed to access the internet. She is breaking down all the rules of radio and is finding different ways of doing it. In every location, she has to consider transportation whether it is on a boat, in a car, or on a 16 person bicycle. The mobility of the radio itself is a challenge. She also experiences problems she can’t control such as traffic and being stopped by the police. All these aspects tear apart what a radio typically is and gives a new meaning to it. Another great example of how she includes deconstruction is through the way she separates the materials of maps. She used sandpaper to dust off the ink of world maps and used the dust to create other works. By deconstructing her art, she forces her viewers to see the world from a different perspective. In her point of view, “art is a tool for communication and a way to expose things from different angles” (“Artist Agustina Woodgate Considers Everything”, 2019, p. 6). In her radio, she speaks about topics like sea level rising while on a boat. She takes locals to Biscayne Bay, the Miami river, Turkey Point, and Stiltsville while discussing this topic that threatens the lives of Miami residents. 

Another important quality of her work is the displacement of it. “I put things where they completely make sense but they’re not there. Some of my work is almost obvious but ridiculously enough no one has done it before which is the surprising part. I’m no genius, I’m just using common sense.” She did this with the poetry bombing by hiding poems in the pockets of clothes.

FORMAL ELEMENTS OF ARTWORK

Left and middle: Agustina Woodgate, The Source, in Miami Beach (2019), Image courtesy Spinello Projects.
Right: Making “The Source” function, Photo by Diana Larrea

Woodgate emphasizes how she usually doesn’t know how her art will turn out until it’s done. At the end of her process, some elements have meaning, but she doesn’t tend to care about aspects such as line, light, and color. She stated when talking about the “Stuffed Animal Toy Skins”, ” It looks pretty in the end but that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m not going behind color and aesthetic.” Although she doesn’t focus on aspects like color, there is a definite intent in the shape and texture of her works. In “The Source”, fountains are made in the shape of a pedestal intentionally. She found it ironic how when people drank from the fountains, their heads became the bust of the statue. Texture and material are also very important. She did “The Source” in Miami and Buenos Aires and the material changes depending on the location. In Miami, the fountains are made out of oolite and keystone coral. She uses this material because Oolite filters Miami’s water source but it also is the reason why sea levels will rise and why there is the intrusion of seawater. 

The shape is also influential in her piece “Hopscotch”. It maps around different locations, such as Buenos Aires. “Each segment comes out of a drain and goes into a street drain, thus utilizes the city’s sewage system to travel” (Woodgate). The shape of the “Hopscotch” isn’t very spontaneous, but the shape of the “Stuffed Animal Toy Skin Rugs” is. When she took the stuffed animals apart from the seams and sewed them together, she realized that they looked like cow skins and went with it. 

The biggest element of her work is the material she uses. She collects trash and recycles it in her work. “I’m like a waste management studio,” she says. Although she does collect trash, she is selective about what garbage she chooses. Most of the material she gathers are tools. For example, slave clocks, used stuffed animals, and globes. All of these objects were used at one point no matter the reason. They all influenced someone’s life, great or small, and now they’re just trash. Woodgate takes these objects and pulls out the meaning they once had. She explains, “I try to focus on objects with a function disguised as art.”

Since her radio is also a part of her art, you have to discuss the elements in it. Although you can’t see aspects of line, shape, light, color, and texture in it, other components put the radio and its meaning together. This must be considered because publishing and research are a crucial part of her work. The radio includes factors such as location, variety of vehicles, and the fact that they use ADB (Audio Digital Broadcasting) systems instead of AM and FM systems. Throughout each broadcast, they use different mediums such as sound, music, experiments, archives, and interviews.

EXHIBITION AND PROJECT HISTORY

Agustina Woodgate, National Times (Power-line Installation) (2016), Image courtesy Spinello Projects.

Woodgate’s first showcase was in Anthony Spinello’s gallery. She was also represented in the Barro gallery in Buenos Aires. Once she moved to Miami, she was part of the O, Miami Poetry Festival in the summer of 2018. She did a large project called Concrete Poetry. In this project, poetry would be put on the sidewalks all around Miami-Dade County. One of the most influential exhibitions she had was in 2019 when her piece “National Times” was installed at the Whitney Biennial, curated by Rujeko Hockley and Jane Panetta (“Artist Agustina Woodgate Considers Everything”, 2019, p. 3, 6). 

In terms of her radio, she has been all around the world, including Vietnam, California, Miami, Vienna, and Turkey. The most memorable experience she had was in Berlin, where she worked for two years. She was involved in a public project in an abandoned amusement park in East Berlin. “It was very influential in my work and the process of thinking. It had to do with the policies, public parts, and maneuvers around a site that is abandoned.”

STUDENT PERSPECTIVE

RadioEE at Autobody, Spinello Projects, in Miami (2014). Image courtesy Spinello Projects.

Woodgate’s approach to art compared to other artists I’ve seen in this course is in a completely different category. When I first looked at her work from afar, I was intrigued by it and how it looked. As I dug deeper into her work and the meaning behind her pieces, I began to grow passionate about it. The intention behind her work excited me and made me want to know more about her and her art. In my high school, my teachers always tried to instill an inquisitive mindset: one that encouraged us to learn not only about local topics but about topics world-wide. Even now, the honors college tries teaching us the importance of learning different topics that have nothing to do with our majors. In her own way, Woodgate does this as well. As a multidisciplinary artist, she spreads her knowledge and stimulates conversations with the intention to reveal systems and our relationships with it, and between us. It is very important to be introduced to a variety of viewpoints and to be educated on international issues. This is what leads me to admire Woodgate’s work. She spreads her knowledge to others through her art and shapes it in a way that fosters relations, relevant topics, discovery, and knowledge. 

CITATIONS

Agustina Woodgate. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2020, from https://www.artsy.net/artist/agustina-woodgate

Art Basel. (n.d.). Agustina Woodgate goes straight to ‘The Source’ ahead of Miami Beach. Retrieved April 12, 2020, from https://www.artbasel.com/stories/agustina-woodgate-goes-straight-to-the-source-art-basel-cities-miami-beach

Artist Agustina Woodgate Considers Everything. (2019, April 6). Retrieved April 12, 2020, from https://www.culturedmag.com/agustina-woodgate/

Uszerowicz, M. (2016, September 8). In Conversation With Agustina Woodgate. Retrieved April 12, 2020, from https://www.ravelinmagazine.com/posts/in-conversation-with-agustina-woodgate/

Woodgate. Selected Works.PDF. Retrieved April 12, 2020, from https://agustinawoodgate.com/

ASC Service Project 2020: Diana Cristancho

STUDENT BIO

Picture taken by Elyssa Barrera

My name is Diana Cristancho and I am a sophomore at Florida International University. I’m majoring in Recreational Therapy in the hopes of becoming an Occupational Therapist. I’ve lived my entire life in Miami which has allowed me to volunteer in a variety of locations and accomplish one of the most important roles a person can have; service.

WHO

Pictures taken by Miami Animal Rescue

Miami Animal Rescue is a non-profit organization that rescues animals from shelters, toxic households, the streets and any other environment that’s unsafe. The rescue is foster-based, meaning that there is no specific location that holds all the animals. Each animal is taken care of by a foster family until they get adopted. All the animals are well taken care of and treated for any injuries or diseases they may have. Rescuing from everywhere around Miami brings in a wide variety of animals with many different problems. Some animals that we rescue include dogs, cats, hamsters, snakes, bearded dragons, gerbils, possums, raccoons, guinea pigs, deer, etc. The most common animals are dogs and cats but we try to take in any animals we come in contact with especially since we partner up with other rehabilitation centers that can take in wild animals. Speaking of partnerships, the rescue works with the PetSmart on 88th street and 137th avenue. Every other Saturday, the rescue has adoption events where potential adopters can come see the animals and/or foster one of the animals available. By doing these adoption events, the rescue gets many donations from the store that include, food, toys, beds, bowls, leashes, collars and more. Every year the rescue saves more animals making it necessary to have a constant supply of materials. The rescue also partners with West Kendall Animal Hospital, who donate or bring down the prices of medical supplies due to the increase in customers we provide them. Every adopter that adopts from us gets a waiver for their first vet visit. This is extremely beneficial because many of the dogs rescued have health conditions that require immediate attention. The owner, Meg Sahdala, does everything possible to rescue any animal encountered even if the limited amount of supplies doesn’t permit it. No matter the hard situation the rescue may face Meg stays true to her mission.

WHY

Picture taken and edited by Diana Cristancho

I have been volunteering for Miami Animal Rescue for almost five years now. Due to the Corona Virus, I was unable to branch out to an art institution to volunteer for, as a result, I chose an organization that I trust and have seen grow over the past few years. They stay true to their mission of rescuing all the animals they can and placing them in their perfect homes. Although my major doesn’t directly connect with animals, I have always loved them and I am interested in animal-assisted therapies. Volunteering in a rescue I have learned not only about animals physically and how they should be cared for, but I have also learned how to understand them mentally.

HOW

Picture taken by Diana Cristancho

I connected with this opportunity in my sophomore year of high school. My best friend Laura started off by fostering multiple dogs for the rescue and she began to volunteer at the adoption events. Laura brought me to an event which led me to start volunteering at the events and as a foster. Ever since then, I have volunteered with the rescue and now it is a consistent activity that I participate in.

WHERE & WHAT

Picture taken by Diana Cristancho

My job at the rescue, especially after volunteering there for such a long time, involves a variety of different tasks. Every day my work changes. One day may be calmer than the other. Most days I’m in the office doing paperwork such as filing adoption papers, emailing adopters, creating community service hour letters, filling out forms for neuter/spay surgeries and more. While I do work in the office, I would also have adopters and fosters coming in and out to pick up medication and to receive their vaccinations. On other days I may go on rescue missions, pick up animals from the shelter, transport animals to and from surgeries, and participating in different adoption and advertising events for the rescue. Some examples include:

Picture taken by Diana Cristancho

On January 14, 2020, the rescue got a large supply of dog and cat food from a brand names NULO. Their products are high end and very natural. They provided us with a truck full of soft and hard food. The owner, Meg, and I transported all the food from her house to her storage unit. It took us about two hours to finish packing everything up and afterward we went back to her house/office to complete paperwork.

Picture taken by Meg Sahdala

On January 19, 2020, Meg, her husband, another volunteer, and I went on a rescue mission. We had been called about an abandoned dog in Florida City. The dog was female and supposedly had puppies but we found her chained up to a tree in a small forest all alone. Before approaching her, we went searching for the puppies and we placed plates of food in different areas around the forest. We assumed that someone had found the puppies and sold them, especially since its an area heavily populated by homeless people. After searching for the puppies, we tried approaching the dog but she came off as scared and a bit aggressive so we kept our distance. In this situation, we called the Police and animal services for assistance. Due to formalities, I am not able to disclose any more information on what happened that day. 

Picture taken by Elyssa Barrera

On January 25, 2020, there was an adoption event at PetSmart. At the event, I helped clean out and organize the storage room and I entertained the dogs and cats in their pens. I also set up new fosters for the animals who didn’t have any and finalize any adoptions that were happening at the store. The process for adoption is quite tedious but it is all for the security of our animals. We do background checks and review the application and contract that they fill out which asks about the information on where they live, work, and who they live with. Knowing this information is important because if a potential adopter lives in an apartment and wants to adopt a large breed dog, we usually don’t allow them to adopt. We want to make sure that each animal has the right amount of space to live in. This is also why we do pop in visits on adopters after a few months. 

Picture taken by Meg Sahdala

On February 3, 2020, I transported a puppy to the vet to get her surgery done. Although I do not have a picture of the surgery from this day, the picture above shows a dog that I fostered for about three months. Her name was Malory and she had her esophagus wrapped around her aorta preventing her from eating any solid food. Every day I had to blend up her food and feed it to her as a puree. For her surgery, we went to a mobile veterinary hospital meaning that the surgery would take place in an RV that was transformed into a hospital (the inside is shown in the picture above). she had a 10 percent chance of surviving due to the procedure. Throughout the entire surgery, the vet had to have an assistant that would manually inflate and deflate her lungs. Her surgery took about three hours long and she was hospitalized for three days. She made a full recovery afterward and got adopted by a loving family who had adopted from us before. Now she lives in a ranch with her two new siblings. 

Picture taken by Diana Cristancho

On February 12, 2020, I spent most of the day doing paperwork in the office but one of the most interesting things that happened was that we rescued a Chameleon. He was very malnourished and skinny so we tried feeding him water, vitamins, and worms. 

Picture taken by Diana Cristancho

On February 17, 2020, we got a call from an Uber driver who was dropping off a rider at Miami International Airport. He reported that when he was leaving, he saw a small black kitten on the side of the road. He picked it up and brought him to us. He had an eye infection on both eyes due to the nose infection he also had. On top of that, he had mites in his ears and all over his body. When he was brought to us, we first bathed him, wrapped him up in a towel, cleaned his eyes off the pus and fed him milk. He made a full recovery with the help of medication after a couple of weeks. Due to his story, we ended up naming him Uber. 

Left: Picture taken by Diana Cristancho
Right: Picture taken by Meg Sahdala

Another experience I had with the rescue, that brought a low of recognition to Miami Animal Rescue was February 16, 2019, where we attended the Model Beach Volleyball Competition in Miami Beach. We brought multiple dogs to the event and we had many different companies and models take pictures with our dogs. Another amazing experience was May 4, 2019, when we rescued a fawn (baby deer) that was tied up to a pole in Florida City. We cut him from the rope and took him to Possum Posse, a wildlife rehabilitation center.

WHEN

SUMMARY

Picture taken by Diana Cristancho

After working with the rescue I have gained a lot of experiences that not many people have. I am extremely grateful that I have been able to do my part in helping animals who are in need. One of the biggest roles I have in the rescue is caring for animals who we can’t give out to other fosters due to illness, temperament, or the fact that they are too small and need to be bottle-fed for a certain amount of time. Having these animals in my home can be difficult, but knowing that I help in their recovery and finding a forever home makes all of it worth it. I’ve also learned how to measure certain medications, administer vaccinations, formulate certain paperwork, send emails, manage difficult situations, make phone calls and communicate with people like lawyers and different veterinary hospitals. When adopters or fosters try to cause problems because they don’t get their way I have learned what to say and what not to say. I’ve had to face hard circumstances like having to pick out hundreds of ticks from the ears of multiple puppies to having premature puppies die in my arms. Working for the rescue is difficult and can be heartbreaking but it has taught me about responsibility, how to be confident, and that the most important thing a person can do is giving back to others. 

France Spring 2020 As Texts: Diana Cristancho

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

My name is Diana Cristancho and I’m a sophomore at Florida International University. I’m majoring in Recreational Therapy and I hope to get my masters in Occupational Therapy. I’m on the the Street Team Committee for Relay For Life at FIU and I’m the 2019 American Cancer Society Ambassador. I love being outdoors and traveling. I’ve only been outside of the country twice and it was to Canada and Colombia. I’m extremely excited to visit France and learn more about its culture. I’m particularly excited to experience the art and food.

Vizcaya as Text

“South Florida’s Versailles” by Diana Cristancho of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

In lands of mangroves and waters of bitter salt

With trees grown tall connected by leaf and branch 

Shade hovers and sea breeze flows through petals of green 

Like ladies twisting in mazes trailed by steps of tease

With secret cellars of grapes divine

Dionysus greets with the spill of wine 

And step by step JD declines 

I have spoken, J’ai dit defined

Through caves of awakening 

To gardens with true meanings disguised 

Venus arises on ocean glass 

fueling stories of lovers never meant to pass 

Guests engaged by stages and plays 

Each lives for status, entertainment and games

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens was built by James Deering. He moved to South Florida and built the Vizcaya Villas as a way to create a name for himself. Moving there no one knew who he was but with his vision, he was able to create one of the most extraordinary places in Miami. In building Vizcaya, James Deering broke boundaries and ignored any sort of rules or structure. In a way, you can compare him to King Louis XIV. Vizcaya was James Deering’s version of Versailles. Where Louis built a room of light with windows lining one wall and mirrors on the other, James built a hidden palace in the mangroves with his own home filled with light. The center of his home is completely open facing the water. Although now windows are closing off the inside of the house, I could just imagine the wind flowing through the home bouncing off the stone walls. The rooms are of Rococo and Baroque style filled with painted marble, countless pieces of art and windows made of stained glass with caravels and seahorses shining through. Not only is the home exceptional, but so are the gardens, which King Louis XIV was also known for. In the Vizcaya gardens, there are rooms made of trees, mazes, outdoor stages, secret gardens, grottos, benches made for forbidden lovers and fountains reflecting the heavens. All these aspects as impressive as they are, their meaning makes Vizcaya even more impressionable. Like any palace, some people live there, like a court of nobles. James Deering created all these features to his homes as a place for entertainment, where men and women could chase each other around mazes and watch plays in the fresh ocean air. They could take strolls around the gardens, ride electric gondolas in the water, and have romantic encounters while sitting under benches shaded by Aphrodite’s shell. Not only that, but they could enjoy their wine that was kept in hidden cellars without being disturbed by the heavy footsteps of servants, thank goodness to the cork floors. 

In my poem, I emphasize just a small part of James Deering’s home that makes it so remarkable. All the different aspects of Vizcaya are his way of laughing in the face of society and their structure on how everything should be while also keeping the aspect of entertainment for his guests. And if the french translation of “I Have Spoken” written in stained glass isn’t enough to tell you that James Deering is a man like no other, hopefully, mosaics made of shells, triumphal arches, and the painting of a fresco outdoors will.

Tower of Snow by Enrique Martinez Celaya

MOAD As Text

“The Children and the Ellis Island of the South” by Diana Cristancho of FIU at the Freedom Tower

Built-in 1925, the Freedom Tower became the Ellis Island of the south. It welcomed over thousands of refugees and to this day holds stories and memories of the 14,000 Peter Pan children that came to the United States from Cuba. Before walking into the Freedom Tower, to the left of the building, there is a statue called the Tower of Snow. This statue shows a boy carrying a house on his back while on crutches. This boy is a representation of all the Peter Pan children who were sent to America carrying their lives and families on their backs. These children were a part of Operation Peter Pan, which involved parents from Cuba shipping their children to the states to avoid the corruption Fidel Castro and the government were creating. Many of the children stayed in foster homes or were kept in camps. Once they arrived in America, they were sent all across the country.
Being part Cuban myself, I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like for my mother and the rest of her family to come down from Cuba. I eventually found out that she came down from Spain and didn’t have to enter the United States by going through the Freedom Tower. Interestingly enough, since Cuba is fairly small, my mom knows of friends and distant cousins that were Peter Pan children. I found this extremely interesting, because not only do I love the children’s story of Peter Pan, but knowing the connection of the story to history makes it even better.
Overall, the Freedom Tower is supposed to signify universal human rights, and by fleeing Cuba and its oppressive government to America, the refugees are entering a new country with the hopes of being free and getting an education.

Deering Estate As Text

“Preservation of Miami’s Land and History” by Diana Cristancho of FIU at the Deering Estate

Miami is mostly known for being one of the most popular cities in the United States. With the stereotype of having beaches, nightlife, and restaurants no one would think that there were hidden sanctuaries of nature such as the Deering Estate. Going back to the 1890s, at the birth of South Florida, Miami began as a home to mangroves, manatees and a large variety of plants and marine life. It seemed uninhabitable to anyone who wasn’t the native Americans who had lived there before. Imagining what most of Miami looks like now, it’s hard to believe that there could be an estate with South Florida’s native plants and animals so well preserved. Not only does it maintain the ecosystem that had begun there, but it also protects the history of the land and people who lived there long before colonists had arrived. 

Although the Deering Estate is one large environment of different species, in itself there are multiple locations with different ecosystems and wildlife. One spot on the estate is the Boat Basin. It has a very diverse marine ecosystem considering that it is a nursing ground for many organisms. Animals such as manatees, sharks, turtles, stingrays, and dolphins can be found there. That being said, since there are so many inhabitants in the basin, no boats are allowed in. Another important area is the shores of Biscayne Bay. It is an estuary where freshwater and saltwater mix and it is crucial to the environment of the Deering Estate and the fish and crustaceans that live in it. Apart from the coastal area and marine life, there is also a nature preserve on the premises of the estate. Inside of the preserve, there are plants such as mangroves, Gumbo Limbo trees, Wild Poppy, Orchids, Resurrection ferns, and Maidenhair ferns. The preserve is also home to foxes, coyotes, snakes, otters, crocodiles and hermit crabs. Something particularly spectacular about the nature preserve is that there are landscapes such as sinkholes, razor rocks, caves and the Miami Rock Bridge that separates Biscayne Bay and the interior basin of the southern Florida peninsula. Last, another spot on the Deering Estate that preserves Florida’s rarest plant community is the Hardwood Hammock. It is made up of higher elevated ground that is considered a threatened environment since it is a habitat from the Caribbean islands. This habitat also has solution holes which not many people know exist in Miami. 

While the estate does an amazing job of conserving the environment, it also takes a huge part in the history of South Florida and the limited knowledge we have on it. Within the nature preserve, two spots, in particular, tell the story of the Tequestas who lived there before. The first location is the Tequesta Midden, which is a spring hidden within the mangroves and holds tools previously used by the Tequestas. Under the water, buried in the mud, you can find shells, shark vertebrates and crocodile scoots that seem to fit your hand quite conveniently. The second spot is the Tequesta burial ground. It is assumed that about 12 – 18 bodies are buried surrounding a Gumbo Limbo tree. Finding the story behind the Tequestas is very interesting and tedious considering that there are no existing images or proof of language of the Tequestas. The last and most impressive spot of the estate is the cutler fossil site. This location is not open to the public due to preservation purposes. This site is a Paleo-Indian burial ground and is about 12,000 years old. The burial ground is a sinkhole about 16 feet above sea level and holds artifacts such as a mammoth tooth and bones from animals such as dire wolves, saber-tooth tigers, and American lions. 

The Deering Estate is a place like no other and stays true to its mission of preserving the environment and the history of the land. Many people may come to Miami to experience city life but the environment and the nature in Miami is even more captivating. 

HistoryMiami Museum mural of Paleo-Indians Photo taken from HistoryMiami Museum Walking Tour

HistoryMiami As Text

“What’s Left Out Of Your Common History Book” by Diana Cristancho of FIU at The HistoryMiami Museum

History class had never been my best subject. It never piqued my interest very much, nevertheless, there was always one portion of history that always caught my attention; the history of Miami and the Natives of Florida. It took up about a chapter or two of my history classes, but those two chapters were the ones I engaged in the most. Part of it could be because I wanted to know about the land I was living on, or maybe it was because a piece of its history was in the backyard of both my elementary and middle school. Both had little school houses the size of a large bedroom consisting of desks and a chalkboard. Seeing this introduced me to the history of my school and of the city of Miami. These two schools, being one of the first African American schools to be built, held two small pieces of history of Miami and the influences people of color had in South Florida. The HistoryMiami Museum goes in-depth on this topic and the effects it had on South Florida. It’s one of the most unique places to visit because it chronologically dates the history of Miami starting from the Native Americans. 

Each exhibition reflects on how Miami was built and the people that suffered for its sake. To support all its information, the museum provides 37,000 artifacts that include prehistoric archeological finds and 20th-century Afro-Cuban folk art. The core exhibition they have is the “Tropical Dreams: A People’s History of South Florida”,  which presents depictions of what artists think the native Americans and their homes looked like with the information provided by archeologists. Paintings like these are especially influential because of the limited knowledge we have on the Native Americans. A spectacular finding the museum presents is the “Miami Circle.” It is a circle of deep holes that were found at a construction site in downtown Miami. Although the area is still under investigation, archeologists think that the Tequestas used it for political or ceremonial occasions. After presenting some of their discoveries, the Museum starts digging into deeper history such as “The Creek Migration.” This exhibition goes into detail on how the Creek Indians, ancestors of the Seminole Indians, had to migrate from Georgia and Alabama to Florida due to oppressing circumstances with other Indian tribes and the Europeans. The natives faced oppression in so many ways, whether it was genocide or being used as pawns to separate the Spanish in Florida from the British Colonies. And after all the persecution they went through, when the first pioneers came to Florida by boat, they tried to befriend the natives because they were strangers to the land and didn’t know how to farm products such as starch, which they would send down to Key West. 

Not only does the Museum talk about the oppression of Native Americans, but there is also a portion that discusses the impact African Americans had on the city. For example, in the exhibition “New Peoples/New Technologies,” the difference black working men made in the construction of the city was mentioned. Not only did these men work on building on railroads and other structures around Miami, but they were chosen to vote in making Miami a city. 162 of 367 men who voted black and after they accomplished their role of voting, they went back to being treated like any other slave. 

While this museum is noted as the “largest history museum in Florida and one of the largest in the southeastern United States,” there is still more information that can be added to more history to be discovered. Visiting different sites around the city, you’ll be surprised at how much history you can find that you never read about in your history books. 

Miami Beach As Text

“The Expense of Miami Beach” by Diana Cristancho of FIU at South Beach

Like everywhere else in the world, Miami wasn’t what it is now. Most of South Florida consisted of swamplands, mosquitos, and mangroves. It might be hard to imagine, but Miami Beach, one of the most visited places in Florida, used to be nothing but nature. It was an island full of mangroves, marine life, birds, and other exotic animals. While the island was renovated into Miami Beach, a beautiful place to visit, the environment in and around it began to suffer. Carl Fisher encountered this island on vacation and bought the land in 1912 when it was still blossoming in nature. To build the tourist resort Fisher imagined, they had to cut down many mangroves, palmettos that existed in the island’s habitat. In cutting down the habitat, it reduced the population of many of the species and ruined many freshwater springs which were necessary for the natives who lived in the area. The mangroves of Miami Beach served as a sort of filter between the Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Without the mangroves, saltwater and freshwater began to mix and ruined habitats for freshwater species. To landscape the island, dredging was also involved which destroyed the environment and caused the turbidity of the water to rise  affecting marine life. Even now, the island still exists at the expense of marine animals. Due to the overactivity of people in Ocean Drive and at the beach, there is a large amount of pollution. Although many people in the area travel by foot or bicycle, most of the pollution comes from waste built up by the people who walk on the shores of the beaches. You can see plastic bags, cans, water bottles, bottle caps, glass, and many other man made pollutants on the sand, in the water, and many places that aren’t a trash can or recycling bin. Many of these products get consumed by fish, manatees, turtles, seagulls, pelicans and many other species of animals. Their home that used to be a safe place to find food has transformed into a toxic and poisonous habitat. While these objects are dangerous, they aren’t the only threatening aspects of Miami Beach. Factors such as the bright lights of the buildings and street lamps cause light pollution, again, disturbing the usual routine of many animals. The beaches of this island are popular for sea turtle nests. When the eggs hatch, the baby sea turtles use the light of the moon to guide them back to the ocean, but with the bright lights of Ocean Drive, it can be easily mistaken for the moon leading the babies in the wrong direction. While Miami Beach is a wonderful place to visit, you must be aware of whose expense you’re visiting. This is an important topic to speak about especially during this time of COVID-19 where we are seeing the effects of humans staying home on the habitats around us. Sharks, manatees, dolphins, turtles, and more species are coming out and can find the food sources they need without being threatened. 

ASC Service Project 2019: Diana Cristancho

Deering Estate: Gardening and Weeding

November 22, 2019

On my first day at the Deering Estate, I came in at 8:30 am. My first impression of that day was already great when I was greeted by one of the cats from the grounds. Not long after I was introduced to Andres Calix the Grounds and Maintenance Supervisor. Around this time, everyone in the estate was preparing for all the holiday events that were coming up. One of those preparations was covering up and old tree stump with ferns and poinsettias. I met another worker, Marvin Diaz, who worked with me from the time I got there until the time I left at noon. While he dug holes in the ground for the plants, I was putting mulch in a wheelbarrow and pouring it over the freshly planted ferns with a pitchfork. Although this task was tiresome, I was able to experience the cool weather of that day. I was also amazed by how beautiful the light looked shining between the leaves of the field I was working on. I have an obsession with words in other languages that mean something that doesn’t exist in English. For example, the word Komorebi is a Japanese word for “when light filters through the trees- the interplay between the light and the leaves.” Komorebi is what I was able to appreciate that day. Also in between all the mulching, I was having very interesting conversations with Andres and Marvin. We all started talking about our lives and after explaining to them that I wanted to be an Occupational Therapist because my brother had Autism, Andres told me about his nephew who also has a mental disability. I also learned that Marvin loved orchids and had a nursery for them, to which I showed them my orchid tattoo. The most influential part of my conversations with them was that I was speaking to them in Spanish the entire time. Many of my friends don’t speak Spanish and my family only speaks English at home because of my brother so the only time I can speak it is when I’m with my grandparents. It always makes me happy to be able to practice a part of my culture with other people around me.

December 6, 2019

The second day I came into the Deering Estate at 9 am and I met Rose Roberts, another worker on the grounds. That day I spent about two hours watering plants along the sides of the estate. Since there had been so little rain, most of them were lacking water. I had to water three rows of plants, which was done twice for each row to make sure the water would seep into the roots. While watering plants I was able to see all the beautiful flowers that were in bloom. I also encountered multiple baby dragonflies which I have never seen in my life. I have only ever seen full-grown dragonflies and seeing them made my day. They’re my spirit animal and I also have a tattoo of one on my rib. After watering the plants, Rose led me to the palms and bushes by the villa, where I pulled out Palm tree seedlings from the ground. They looked like long strands of grass and were fairly easy to pull out. After pulling out all the seedlings into a bucket I left to work.

December 11, 2019

On my last day at the Deering Estate, Rose and I mulched all the barren areas around the estate. The Deering was preparing for a Christmas event they were having that Friday. Rose and I went in her golf cart into the path that led to the Takesta burial ground to get mulch. She told me that the mulch we were using was from the fallen trees after Irma, meaning that the mulch was about two years old. It was decomposing so much that it was almost at the point of turning into soil. I was able to tell the difference between that mulch and newer mulch because the older one was falling through the pitchfork and the newer one, that I used the first time I came to the Deering, didn’t. While going back and forth between the mulch pile and the areas we were mulching, Rose and I met a little boy who was in one of the school programs. He was there with his mom but he was crying because he didn’t want to go eat lunch. I couldn’t help but laugh a little. To stop his tantrum, Rose and I went ahead and showed him a woodpecker we had found making a whole on an old palm. He was so amazed by it and went to go get his friends to see. We watched as the woodpecker made a large almost perfect circle in the tree. It was a very cute experience. After that little break, Rose and I went back to work and started talking about the recent events that had been occurring in Miami and about our lives.

Summary

Although most of the work I did at the estate was manual labor, I enjoyed it. I have always loved gardening, especially when I would do it with my grandpa. He had a garden in his backyard and watering plants and weeding reminded me of that time with me. I also really appreciated meeting Andres, Marvin, and Rose. They are all extremely sweet and you could tell just how much all of them love and care for the estate. Getting to know them was one of the highlights of my experience. My favorite part of it was the fact that I was outdoors and able to experience nature. I loved being able to feel the breeze from the water, see the view and hear the silence around me. The Deering Estate is definitely a place I would go back to whether it is to garden or just to experience the beauty it has to offer.

ASC See Miami 2019: The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse by Diana Cristancho

STUDENT BIO

My name is Diana Cristancho and I am a sophomore at Florida International University. I am majoring in Recreational Therapy in the hopes of becoming an Occupational Therapist with Animal Assistance. I am the American Cancer Society Ambassador for 2019 and I am currently in the Street Team committee for Relay For Life. Some of my hobbies include writing poetry, playing volleyball, exercising, traveling, rescuing animals and basically any outdoor activity. I love trying new things so I joined the Honor College to expand my horizons and learn more about subjects I wouldn’t usually study. With that, I enrolled in the class Art Society Conflict which I have thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot from. 

GEOGRAPHY

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse is located in the Wynwood Art District of Miami just off I-95. It’s in its own little corner on 27th st surrounded by gates. The address is 591 NW 27th St, Miami, FL 33127. It’s only a few blocks away from all the new hottest restaurants, clubs and stores in Wynwood. The Warehouse sits on 50,000 square feet of land which holds some of Martin Z. Margulies’ 5,000 collected artworks. Although the outside may look like any ordinary warehouse, what’s held inside makes it spectacular and incomparable to any other location in Wynwood [Ref.4].

HISTORY

Martin Z. Margulies Collection Volume 1 and 2

You really can’t talk about the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse without talking about Martin Z. Margulies himself. Mr. Margulies is a real estate developer that graduated from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. He originally wasn’t very interested in art but, on a tour that Mr. Margulies gave my class while visiting his collection, he told us the story on how it all began. He started out building houses in Miami when he met a woman. Mr. Margulies would have conversation mostly about sports with her until she said to him, “What is wrong with you?” and encouraged him to learn about art. Not too long after he would go to purchase his first piece of art. Now he has been collecting art for more than 40 years and is named the ART News Top 200 Collectors. Before having the Warehouse, Mr.Margulies started with his own private collection where he would only collect paintings and sculptures. In 1992, he started collecting photography after “he fell in love with a 7 feet tall photograph of a woman by Thomas Ruff” and now has more than 4,000 photographs. In 1999, he decided to open his collection to the public by opening the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse. The Martin Z. Margulies Foundation is in charge of managing and funding the Warehouse as a not for profit institution. This year makes the 20th year anniversary since the institution opened [Ref.1].

MISSION

Martin Z. Margulies’ main goal in opening his collection to the public is to encourage the education of the arts. As Mr.Margulies said, “art is about learning and educating yourself” [Ref.2].  He has the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse open to students and visitors from all around the world. He has his collection open to students for free in order to have no barriers between a student and their opportunity to learn about art. Mr.Margulies is also very well known for gifting his art and donating to other institutions. For example, he is the benefactor and owner of the Florida International University Art Sculpture Park. He also gifted the National Museum of African American History and Culture his Saint John the Baptist painting by Kehinde Wiley. Another painting he gifted was Anthony Caro’s Double Variation to Cornell University. Not only is Mr.Margulies very generous with his gifts and donations, but he is also very philanthropic. Due to his former wife being the founder of the Lotus House, he serves on the board of the Lotus Endowment fund and has given over 2.5 million dollars to them. With the money donated to the Lotus House, they were able to build the Overtown youth center in downtown Miami. These are just a few out of the many donations Mr.Margulies has done to stand by his mission and help students in their education in the arts and homeless women and children [Ref.1].

ACCESS

Shipwrecked, 2000 by Justine Kurland

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse is not very easy to spot but once you arrive at the gates, there is a parking lot right in front. Inside the gates, there is free parking but it is very minimal, fitting maybe 12 or so cars. Although there is little free parking, there is a lot of space to park beside the parking lot and warehouse by the sidewalk. If parking in any area outside the warehouse, the Pay By Phone app is needed in order to pay an hourly parking fee. The Warehouse is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 am to 4 pm. The only time the times change is during Art Basel and during Christmas. During Art Basel, they are open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm and Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm. For Christmas, they are closed from December 22nd to January 1st [Ref.4].

COLLECTION

“The Margulies Collection is considered by curators, critics, artists, dealers, and collectors as one of the most important collections of its kind”[Ref.4]. It is full of contemporary and modern art and was valued at 800 million dollars in 2008 [Ref. 2]. With artworks from all around the United States and Europe, it holds more than 5,000 contemporary pieces. His collection contains works of European Modernism, Minimalism, Arte Povera, Abstract Expressionism, Conceptual, video, contemporary photography and many more [Ref.1]. When asked what all the art in his collection had in common Mr.Margulies replied with “myself.” He said that it is “a reflection of my personality” and that it is a “collection of my external and internal experiences in my life” [Ref. 2]. That being said, the art that he keeps in his collection says a lot about him. Some of the art that will be permanently in his collection as of now include artworks by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Cindy Sherman, George Segal, Ernesto Neto, and Anslem Kiefer. 

Magdalena Abakanowicz

HURMA, 1994-95 by Magdalena Abakanowics

Walking into the Warehouse you are already welcomed with sculptures and paintings, but looking to the right, you will see a small piece of a massive sculpture by Magdalena Abakanowicz. As you walk into the room you will be amazed at the group of 250 figures titled HURMA. This group of headless figures shows adults and children facing forwards. The figures are made out of light brown material making the room feel solemn. It gives you a sense of despair while leaving you wondering: Why are the figures headless? What happened to them? What does it all mean? Personally seeing them headless, placed each individual on the same level. It didn’t matter if they were adults or children, they were all headless and they all went through the same thing. The scary part of this piece is that you assume that they went through a terrible event, but it could just as easily mean that they all just went through something as simple, or not so simple,  as life. Here humanity is stripped away and all that is left is the body. Overall, Abakanowicz intended to make a statement about art itself. She explains, “I wanted to tell you that art is the most harmless activity of mankind. But I suddenly recalled that art was often used for propaganda purposes by totalitarian systems. I wanted to tell you also about the extraordinary sensitivity of an artist, but I recalled that Hitler was a painter and Stalin used to write sonnets. Art will remain the most astonishing activity of mankind born out of struggle between wisdom and madness, between dream and reality in our mind.” She wants to make the point that art is the middle ground between our imagination and the real world. Since all the art in this collection has Mr.Margulies in common, it is fitting that this piece is in it because of its meaning and the fact that this collection represents the midpoint of the internal and external aspects of Mr. Margulies. 

Cindy Sherman

Untitled (Bus Riders), 1976-2000 by Cindy Sherman

To the left of the Warehouse, you enter one room, to enter into another, full of photography. Right when you enter directly in the back of the room, the first thing you see is a set of 15 black and white photographs lined up next to each other. When looking closer, you see that each picture shows a different person posing either on a chair or just standing. The most shocking part of these photographs is that each person in each image is, in fact, a self-portrait of Cindy Sherman, the photographer. This piece is called Untitled (Bus Riders) and shows Sherman painted and dressed up as different people riding a bus. The most impactful aspect of this collection of images is that it was taken around the time of the Son of Sam, the American serial killer. On any ordinary day, these images would just be bus riders, but the fact that it came out during that time, makes it terrifying. Something like doing a part of your daily routine like riding a bus can become very dangerous. Anyone of these hypothetical people could be targeted for murder. It opens your eyes to the dangers of everyday life and how corrupt our world can me. Everyone assumes they are safe until something happens. I particularly like how the Margulies collection at the Warehouse has it set up, because even though each individual in the pictures look different and could be from different social classes, the fact that they are lined up with no one picture higher than the other, puts everyone’s life experience at the same level. Once again the idea of equality appears.

George Segal

Left: Subway, 1968 by George Segal
Right: Depression Bread Line, 1991 by George Segal

If you go back to the entrance of the Warehouse and walk straight towards the center of the collection, right by the office, you will see two sculptures by George Segal. To the Left, there is a sculpture of an all-white woman sitting on a subway chair. This sculpture titled Subway gives a sense of loneliness since the person is sitting alone. In the subway window, you see only darkness as if the person is inside the subway tunnel with only a flickering light at the very top of the window. The lighting, the subway chairs and the map behind one of the chairs are not well kept and show aspects of neglect. The subway car was taken from a New York junkyard for scrapped city property showing how little the transportation in new york is managed. With the subway, we see another activity of daily life for many people. It could be dangerous, lonely and holds no filters for what a New Yorker goes through. So many people live in their own world but can live extremely similar lives to others around them. Everyone feels lonely and everyone can feel defeated, you just have to see it in someone else to realize it. That is what this sculpture shows me and I think it does the same for many others. Next to Subway is segal’s sculpture called, Depression Bread Line. George Segal was commissioned to build this sculpture so that it could be placed in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. This sculpture also represents loneliness and equality, as each individual in the line is living in the Great Depression. None of the individuals are making eye contact due to the difficult times occurring in the country. It wasn’t a time to be social because everyone was going through their own problems and most people already knew what the other person was going through, poverty and loneliness. Besides this painting on a plaque, FDR’s famous words are stated, “I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished… The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

Anslem Kiefer

Die Erdzeitalter (Ages of the World), 2014 by Anselm Kiefer
Left: Sprache del Vögel (Language of the Birds), 1989 by Anslem Kiefer
Top right: Geheimnis der Farne (The Secret of the Ferns), 2007 by Anslem Kiefer
Bottom left: Töchter Liliths (Lilith’s daughter), 1989 by Anslem Kiefer

Past George Segal’s work, to the far back there are multiple works by Anslem Kiefer. Each piece by Kiefer has the same grotesque, post-apocalyptic feel to it. Whether it is Töchter Liliths (Lilith’s daughter), Die Erdzeitalter (Ages of the World), Geheimnis der Farne (The Secret of the Ferns), or Sprache del Vögel (Language of the Birds). With his sculptures, he reverts back to our history and pulls out the demonic, corrupt, destructive, evolutionary, poetic, dystopian, and magical aspects of this universe. In Lilith’s Daughter, he uses the sinful stories of Lilith and her demon children to describe the poverty and the decline of Brazil. In Ages of the World, he uses, pictures, canvases, earth, and charcoal e to create a type of totem and funeral pyre to represent the ruin of the planet and humankind. The Secret of the Ferns goes back to the primitive beings of the world, ferns, and covers the cycle of the world showing destruction and rebirth. Last, Language of the Birds touches a form of magic that in many stories, has corrupted human beings, alchemy. Tying it together, this last sculpture takes old books and scraps of natural products and transforms it into a poetic and meaningful piece that slaps you in the face with the answer to the sorcery that is alchemy. Anslem Kiefer states, “the ideology of alchemy is the hastening of time, as in the lead-silver-gold cycle which needed only time in order to transform lead into gold. In the past, the alchemist sped up this process with magical means. That was called magic. As an artist, I don’t do anything differently. I only accelerate the transformation that is already present in things. That is magic as I understand it.”

Ernesto Neto


É ô Bicho!, 2001 by Ernesto Neto

Walking to the right past Anslem Kiefer’s art, you enter another room with the most extraordinary and captivating piece. This contemporary sculpture uses an interactive nature where individuals can walk in between the tubes and smell each socket. This artwork, hanging from the ceiling breaks the boundaries of contemporary art and does something that no other piece in Warehouse does, use your sense of smell. Inside each polyamide tube, there is turmeric, black pepper, and cloves. The scent is so strong, that the moment you walk into the room the scent of the Warehouse changes completely. This piece isn’t just artwork itself, but it makes its surroundings art as well. A person’s sense of smell is extremely powerful in the way that it can bring about emotion or memory that is different for every individual. We use our senses to communicate and distinguish feeling such as happiness, sadness, anger, nostalgia and more. Neto stated on the plaque by this piece that, “what we have in common is more important than what makes us different. I am interested in debating the plight of humanity, the temperature of the things we experience, the movement of things and language.” For this piece, it is crucial to remember that the most important thing about art is communication and how you can use any material. 

The rest of the Margulies Collection also includes artists such as Willem de Kooning, Frank Stella, John Chamberlain and Joel Sternfeld who have impacted the art world in their own way and have contributed to the impressionable collection of Mr.Margulies. Most of the artworks collected by Mr.Margulies can also be seen in the two books he published, Martin Z. Margulies Collection Volume 1 and 2

EXHIBITIONS

The front view of the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse

Since the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse is compiled of works that Mr.Margulies has bought, there aren’t any exhibitions dedicated to one particular artist. While the art presented in the Warehouse does change, he keeps most of his art unless he is donating it or selling it in order to buy another painting. During our tour, he mentioned that “if you stop collecting than you stop moving forward” so on certain occasions he has to sell some of his art. Although he has no exhibitions towards one artist, he has an exhibition dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Warehouse. The exhibition is called, “Can It Really Be 20 Years Already? Art in Our Times, Contemporary Masters, and Philanthropy.” In this exhibition, he is “featuring 20th and 21st-century sculpture, photography, video, painting and large-scale installations by international artists” from his collection. 

“This season’s 20th-year anniversary exhibition will include works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Radcliffe Bailey, Eric Bainbridge, Domenico Bianchi, Gilles Barbier, Florian Baudrexel, William Beckman, John Beech, Jeff Brouws, Peter Buggenhout, Lawrence Carroll, John Chamberlain, Olafur Eliasson, Willem de Kooning, Donna Dennis, Nathalie Djurberg, Mark di Suvero, William Eggleston, Leandro Erlich, Kota Ezawa, Michael Heizer, Thomas Hirschhorn, Pieter Hugo, Anselm Kiefer, Justine Kurland, Sol LeWitt, Donald Lokuta, Emil Lukas, Danny Lyon, Chema Madoz, Ibrahim Mahama, Mark Manders, Barry McGee, Dave Muller, Wilhelm Mundt, Jackie Nickerson, Isamu Noguchi, Tony Oursler, Maurizio Pellegrin, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Pedro Cabrita Reis, Jason Rhoades, Nancy Rubins, George Segal, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Shinique Smith, Kenneth Snelson, Jennifer Steinkamp, Frank Stella, Joel Sternfeld, Kishio Suga, William Tucker, Paolo Ventura, Eudora Welty, Franz West, and Lois Weinberger” [Ref.3].

SPECIAL PROGRAMS

Untitled (Truck Installation with TVs), 2004 by Barry McGee

The Margulies Collection has created hundreds of programs to encourage their mission of educating individuals in the arts. One of the most common programs they have is guided tours of the collection by Mr.Margulies, Katherine Hinds, or other associates of theirs. Most of the tours are given to groups of students and some others are open to the public. The Margulies collection also provides lectures, internships, speakers and publications. Some other events that the Institution organizes are the annual gala fundraiser for the Lotus House [Ref.3]. 

VISITOR

Interview of Rosemie Leyre

Q: Is this your first time at the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse? 

RL: It is, indeed. 

Q: Where are you from? Do you live in Miami or are you visiting from somewhere else? 

RL: I am from Boston. 

Q: Where did you hear about the Margulies Collection?

RL: I heard about it from my daughter who is a sculptor in Belgium, Alexandra Leyre Mein.

Q: What is your opinion on the Margulies collection?

RL: For one thing it is impressive, but that is such a general word. It’s just that I’m so glad that I am here and that I had a chance to see it because my experience here in the USA is that we see less good art than I would see in Belgium or in other countries and coming here, it is very different. He has such a large variety of art. 

Q: Is there a particular piece that you really liked?

RL: Yes I really liked Magdalena Abakanowicz sculpture, HURMA, and of course anything by Anselm Kiefer.  Every time I see his work I am impressed. 

Q: Have you been to other art galleries, collections, and/or museums and how do they compare to the Margulies Collection? 

RL: Yes I have and I definitely place the Margulies Collection higher than other places I’ve been to. His collection just speaks for itself. 

Q: What feelings and emotions come to the surface when you look at his collection?

RL: I look at his art and I have no words. There are so many things that can’t be said with words but the art that Mr.Margulies collects speaks without using words. Being here and looking at his art, I just feel grateful that I can see it and experience it. It’s absolutely breathtaking and the fact that he shares his art is incredible.

PORTRAIT

Interview of Olivia Edwards the Assistant Curator of the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse

Q: Where are you from? 

OE: I am from Maine. 

Q: What is your job as Assistant Curator? 

OE: I wear many hats working here. We just published a two-volume book and I worked on that. I was the point of contact between the writers, illustrators, designers, Mr. Margulies and Kathrine Hinds (the curator). I’m the middle man in a lot of ways, between Marti (the collector) and the public, in terms of conveying things that he wants to do with the collection. I also deal with the press and give tours, scheduling events and lectures and then just doing typical office work. 

Q: How did you end up working here? 

OE: I studied art history in Massachusetts and when I moved to Miami, I was looking for a job in art and I happen to be looking at the same time that they were hiring.  

Q: Do you like working here and why?

OE: I really do like working here. First and foremost because of the art. I love the quality of art and I love that the collection is always changing. Also, Mr.Margulies has such a good eye and he’s constantly going out and looking for new work. There’s always something fresh going on. 

Q: How would you describe the Margulies collection?

OE: It’s very historical and gives you a real survey of contemporary art history from the 1940s and onwards. It includes photography, videos, sculptures, and paintings. It touches every movement and important time in art history. Since 1940 there’s a little bit from every moment, even 2019. The video by Jennifer Steinkamp was fairly recent. 

Q: How would you describe Mr.Margulies?

OE: Mr.Margulies has been collecting for more than 40 years now and he has a really well-developed eye. He is a pleasure to work for and he does a lot to give to the community which I think is really important to the community and that makes working here more enjoyable. It makes it feel like what we are doing is going towards something good. 

Q: Do you have a favorite piece in his art collection? 

OE: It’s tough to pick but I would say, in his private collection my favorite work might be Philip Guston’s the Door and that was recently shown at the ICA or not so recent but when the ICA opened it was part of the opening exhibition. For the Warehouse, I would say Ages of the World by Anselm Kiefer.

Q: Where does Mr. Margulies usually look for art? 

OE: You know sometimes we always think that he’s going to go to New York or Europe but he’ll surprise us sometimes by buying from a local gallery. Like the pink painting by Anna Betbeze that is actually a little obstructed from view right now but that’s a piece from the Nina Johnson Gallery in Miami. It’s really hard to say where he will or won’t buy from. For him, it’s all about the art and he’s constantly looking. But I would say the majority of the work that he buys is from New York or Europe. 

Q: When is the busiest time of year for the Warehouse? 

OE: Last week during Art Basel was definitely our busiest week for the year. We get about a 500% increase in traffic. It’s really big, we get people from all over the world which we typically do during the year too.  We don’t really have a budget, as we’re a non-profit, for advertising so when people come to us it’s usually by word of mouth or they know us through other art institutions. Most people that come in are usually from New York or overseas. We get very few Miami people to come in. 

Q: Are there any future plans for Mr.Margulies and his collection? 

OE: On the calendar, there isn’t anything really planned out yet but we are thinking about this event that we always do for the Lotus House. It’s a gala fundraiser for them and will happen in April. But that’s the only real thing on our calendar. We are thinking of doing an open tour by Mr. Margulies that’s open to the public or a lecture of sorts. 

Q: How often does Mr.Margulies usually donate a piece? 

OE: I wouldn’t say that it’s based on time or schedule where he feels it’s time to donate something but it’s more of a case by case basis. For instance, the Smithsonian institution was opening and African American museum in Washington DC and they didn’t have a Kehinde Wiley piece and it was something that we did have in the collection, so he decided to gift the Kehinde Wiley to the museum so that they could have one and I believe it’s on permanent view there. 

SUMMARY

Images of the video projection of Blind Eye 3, 2018 by Jennifer Steinkamp

Overall, I was astonished by the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse. Going once isn’t enough. The first time I went I was with my class and I absolutely loved it, but once I came the second time alone, I was able to take in everything I saw. I spent about two and a half hours there and I could’ve stayed longer. You can go to enjoy the art, to test your mind by analyzing the work or even just to sit and take in the works it has to offer. In the middle of my visit, I sat in front of Jennifer Steinkamp’s video projection titled Blind Eye 3. I sat there for what seemed like 15 minutes just watching the trees and leaves change. It was a moment of peace away from the constant topics of destruction, even though the projection itself showed the death and rebirth of the trees. Each artwork I saw in the Warehouse collection attached itself to our history. His collection spoke about equality, loneliness, destruction, corruption, change, and rebirth. Each artist uses the concept of alchemy to use what they have and turn nothing into something influential, meaningful, and imaginative. The whole collection shows how imagination and art is the universal language. These artworks have these ideas and topics in common. Yes, Mr.Margulies is the connecting point of all the works, but everyone, even Mr. Margulies thinks about these topics. The art doesn’t just tie him into it, it ties every visitor that comes to view his collection. That’s what makes his collection so powerful and captivating. I would like to thank Martin Z. Margulies for sharing his collection with the public when he could have easily kept it to himself. 

REFERENCES

  1. Adeniji, Ade. “Martin Margulies: Real Estate Grants.” Inside Philanthropy, Inside Philanthropy, 17 July 2019, http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/real-estate-givers/martin-margulies.
  2. Arielhauter. “Martin Z. Margulies.” ARTnews.com, 11 Dec. 2019, http://www.artnews.com/art-collectors/top-200-profiles/martin-z-margulies/.
  3. “Can It Really Be 20 Years Already? Art in Our Times, Contemporary Masters, and Philanthropy.” Martin Z. Margulies Foundation, 2019.
  4. “Images.” Margulies Collection, Martin Z. Margulies Foundation, 2019, http://www.margulieswarehouse.com/.

Art Society Conflict: Diana Cristancho

My name is Diana Cristancho and I’m a sophomore at Florida International University. I’m majoring in Recreational Therapy and I hope to get my masters in Occupational Therapy. I was born and raised in Miami and I’m excited to see what different types of art Miami has to offer. Since I was very little I’ve had an interest in art whether it’s through a painting or a poem. In high school my Literature teacher taught me to analyze different forms of art and showed me just how beautiful it is. Now, I want to get a deeper view on different types of art and I think this class is perfect for that.

Crucifixion Altarpiece: Flemish, 1465 – 1538

Norton as Text:

The Triangular Trinity of the Crucifixion Altarpiece by Diana Cristancho from FIU at the Norton Museum

On September 22, 2019, I visited the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach. They have three exemplary floors of art, showcasing European, Chinese, American, and contemporary artwork. To my preference, the third floor was the best. It consisted of European artwork from mainly the 17th and 18th centuries. On that floor, one piece of art piqued my interest the most, the Crucifixion Altarpiece (Flemish 1465-1538), attributed to Goswijn Van Der Weyden. It’s a painting of Christ on the cross with the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, St.John the Evangelist and other men and women looking up to him. The most intriguing part of this painting is the triangular placement of all the people in it. Christ is placed at the top of the cross with people in each corner creating a triangle. The angels are also placed almost in a mirror image with Christ as the point of reflection. The use of triangular shapes in this piece of art is to emphasize the trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It helps keep the focus of the afterlife just like the people in that era lived their life with the idea that this life is unimportant and the afterlife is the most important. The spiritual life is idealized and it’s shown in that time-period through its art. There are no shadows or sizes. Shapes are not proportional or realistic to the natural world. Paintings like this show the difference between artwork before and after the renaissance when artwork shifts away to more naturalistic work. It is also shown through the material. The painting is oil on wood, meaning that people still haven’t started using canvas for painting. Having a piece like this one is incredible, but the fact that the Norton Museum has other pieces just as impressive as this one is impressionable. My time at the Norton Museum was very memorable and I look forward to going back again one day. 

A Mammoth tooth from a Paleo Indian Burial Ground

Deering as Text:

Roots in the Soil by Diana Cristancho from FIU at the Deering Estate on October 2nd, 2019

Over time, the ancestors of Miami have been erased almost completely out of existence. With no history, photographs, or language left behind for us to find, the only resource we have available to rewrite the lives of those in the past is in the soil beneath us. The roots of the Tequesta Indians run just as deep as the avocado trees Charles Deering planted in the wilderness next to his Spanish Villa. And because of the estate, we can walk in the footsteps of all the people who came before us.

Between 1913 and 1918, Charles Deering came to Miami and purchased a great sum of land that is now called the Deering estate. Charles Deering was passionate about a lot but, something that we are very grateful for today is that he was an environmentalist and preservationist. The land he had purchased was mostly underwater and full of life. The surrounding area had forests full of mangroves, Gumbo trees, ferns, crabs, manatees, and a variety of odd-looking insects. He wanted to preserve the environment, so he purchased all the land he could between the Deering Estate and Vizcaya. The parts he did modify, included his home and the limestone he removed from the ground so that the avocado trees planted could grow further underground. He also created a sort of bay by the water that Bahamians and African Americans dugout.

On my visit to the Deering Estate, I realized just how close-minded I was about the history of Miami. Thanks to John Bailly and our tour guide Vanessa I was able to see the true Miami and understand just how deep the history of South Florida runs. The first location we went to was a Paleo-Indian burial ground that was a nice hike away if you exclude the Poison Ivy and Oak. This burial ground is about 12,000 years old and consists of many artifacts such as a shark vertebrae, an alligator scoot, a 20,000-year-old mammoth tooth, and shell drills and hammers. As we passed around the objects, Vanessa explained to us that the way archeologists could tell if something were a tool or not was by seeing how well it fit in our hands. The moment I held a shell hammer and saw how perfectly it fits into my hand, I could help but feel amazed at the fact that I was holding an artifact so old. Not only that but with the objects we had, we learned that the Paleo Indians ate sharks, used dirt as sunscreen and were so educated in the environment, that they used the sap or leaves of the gumbo tree to remedy any reactions to the Poison Oak.

The second site we went to was a Tequesta burial ground. To get there, we took the road that used to be Old Cutler Road and is also the same trail that the Tequestas used to move around. This trail was more open than the first and less rigorous. Here we saw the Resurrection Fern, Maidenhair Fern, and the Coffee Plant (the host plant for butterflies). We also saw Strangler Fig, which wraps around other trees and uses them as a host almost like a parasite. Another cool plant we saw was the Red Mangrove, which has sacrificial leaves that turn yellow that absorb the salt water so that the rest of the tree can live. Something else, even more, peculiar that we saw on the way to the last site, was solution holes. Since limestone is very soft, once leaves fall and pile up in a spot that builds up water, the leaves turn the water into acid water, which then eats away at the rock and creates a hole. Over time, the hole gets bigger until it can fill up and turn into a creek. The craziest part of the solution holes was that Miami used to be full of solution holes, but they were filled in once the land was needed to create homes. This shows just how little people in Miami know about South Florida. Once we got to the Burial grounds, we were able to see the structure and ritual the Tequestas used to preserve the souls of their loved ones. The remains were placed around the largest tree in the estate, creating a hill that went all wound it. It was very impressive and beautiful to see a physical representation of their culture.

Overall my trip to the estate was incredible. What made this excursion so interesting was the small things that most people wouldn’t pay attention such as the fact that we were walking in the footsteps of our ancestors. One thing that I paid a lot of attention to was the tide. The day we went, the water had risen so much that where the water and the estate met, looked almost like an infinity pool. Through all of this, all I could think about was how the earth will always take back what is taken from it. The further the water rises, the closer we get to losing the last of what we have our ancestors, but something that will never change is that the history will always remain in the roots of the Earth whether or not we see it.

Ibrahim Mahama, Non-Orientable Nkansa, 2017
Picture taken by Nicholas Pastrana

Wynwood as a Text:

Alchemy, Mortality, and Perspective in Art by Diana Cristancho from FIU at the Deering Estate on October 16th, 2019

On October 16, 2019, I visited one of the most up and coming places in Miami, the Wynwood Art District. As expected, it didn’t do anything less but impress. The first place I visited was the Margulies Collection, and while the art inside was remarkable, the collector of all the art, Martin Z. Margulies was just as interesting. My class was more than lucky to have a tour with Mr.Margulies so that we could get his perspective on all the art and why he decided to collect them. The first thing you will notice about his collection is that it is full of contemporary and some modern works. The second thing you will notice is that not all the works that he has on his website are at the warehouse where he keeps all of his art. This is because Mr. Margulies has the mentality of a collector, not an artist. Mr.Margulies explained to us that as a collector, “If you stop collecting, you stop moving forward.” No matter how many pieces he likes in his collection, he will always sell and collect new ones, excluding a select few he knows he will never give away.

While each piece in his collection fits in with Mr.Margulies’ vision, each one has its different meaning as to why he chose them. The first section of his collection we saw consisted of photographs. Two photographers in his collection stood out to me the most. The first was Cindy Sherman and her series of fifteen photographs called the Bus Riders. The series was self photographs of Cindy Sherman dressed up as different people who ride buses. In each one, she was wearing different clothes, posing differently, and even painted different skin tones. The second photographer was Joel Sternfield, who took photographs of the High Line in Chelsea, New York City before it was renovated to the way it is now. These photographs were particularly interesting to me because I love seeing how many places have changed over time. It shows that everything is constantly changing just like Mr.Margulies’ collection. The topic of change, or Alchemy, as Mr.Margulies described it is common in his collection. For example, he has a maximalist art piece by Frank Stella that uses the manipulation of scrap metal to create odd shapes and make his work come off the wall. There were also works by Anslem Kiefer where he presents alchemy by using rusted old books, concrete, plants, and other materials to create his art.

 Throughout our tour, Professor Bailly also brings up the most important aspects of art is its communication and how any material can be used to create art. He also explained how contemporary art shatters the way we appreciate art from a distance and how it becomes interactive. Most of Mr.Margulies’ work includes all these aspects and the biggest and most influential part of his gallery is that you are the judge on whether something is art or not. For example, a piece by Ibrahim Mahama that has a bunch of old shoe boxes stacked on top of each other (picture above). To some people, it may just be shoe boxes but its the story behind it that makes it art.

Once we left the Margulies collection, we went to go eat lunch and a classmate and I went to a place called the Taco Stand that had delicious homemade tacos and paletas, ice cream on a stick. After we left, my classmate and I parked in the craziest parking garage. It had giant sculptures of Egyptian like animals that had a bit of Indian style as well. It was extremely unique. Everything we saw on the drive from one gallery to the next, including the garage, made us talk about Miami in general and how we would describe it as bipolar. The way the weather changes, how one side of Miami is just houses and the next is buildings, or how from the outside Wynwood has a bunch of buildings that look like offices but how on the inside it is full of artwork.

The next stop was the De La Cruz collection which was also exemplary. We were gracefully greeted by Rosa De La Cruz where she explained a few art pieces to us and told us about how she takes the graduating class of New World High School to different places around the world so that people who can’t afford to travel can experience art in other places. After she introduced us to her collection, she passed us on to a tour guide that showed so much passion for each piece of art he explained. Once again, the topic of how anything can be used for art came up. One of the first pieces we saw was a string of lights hanging down from the roof. It showed how everything is temporary, like the way the light bulbs would die out sooner or later or the way life and people aren’t infinite. This was also shown in another piece, where and old tv set was playing a video on repeat. Sooner or later the tv would die out bringing up how this type of art is a disposable culture. Another interesting topic that came up was the fact that how we interpret an art piece can take control of it. For example, there was a painting by Dan Colen that looked like it could be a scene from Spongebob or the Road Runner. While the artist didn’t intend this, many people who come to the gallery are always reminded of one of those two things when they see that piece.

Although I had to leave the De La Cruz Collection early, I want to go back and take a deeper look into the artwork. Overall, my time in Wynwood was very memorable. It showed an extensive amount of unique art that changed my perspective about it and brought out many interesting conversations. While many other places around the world have their collections of art, the Wynwood Art District is growing to be a strong home for contemporary and modern art.

My depiction of The Birth of Venus
Picture taken by Nicholas Pastrana

Vizcaya as Text

Miami’s Mirror Image by Diana Cristancho from FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on October 30th, 2019

Miami has always been one of its kind. It has its own identity and forms its own rules and breaks any boundaries. Just like Miami, James Deering, the creator of Vizcaya does whatever he wants and creates a new home with architecture and designs that have never been done before. From the very beginning, James Deering was an extremely wealthy man. He lived off of his family fortune and worked for his father’s company. At the time they were millionaires, but after investing in agricultural machinery, they became billionaires. After James Deering’s father died and got voted out from his father’s company, he used his fortune to make a name for himself. He did this by building villas in the middle of a mangrove forest in Miami. Not only did this start off as being one of its kind, but it was only the first of all the inventive ideas James Deering had. He wasn’t afraid to experiment or try new things. In addition, everything he built was his own form of art. For example, at the entrance of the villa, there are fountains that are influenced by Islam because they have calm waters that are intended to reflect the heavens above. This is particularly odd because the entire villa has multiple references to Italy and Spain. With the incorporation of ideas and architecture from different places around the world, he is making his home into a melting pot of different cultures, just like Miami. 

A huge characteristic of James Deering was how much he didn’t care the rules and restrictions of society or nature. The entire villa includes aspects of dominance over nature and how he is in control. A huge part of his home is his gardens, which are structured in very unnatural shapes. He also creates Grottos in his gardens, which are cave-like spaces where people can escape society and come back to nature. With this aspect of the garden, he creates his own environment and pretty much plays the role of God. Not only does the architecture if the garden represents his control over nature and his home, but so does the sculptures and structures around the garden. He has multiple statues of different Gods strategically placed around his gardens. For example, he has faces of river gods all around the garden as well as references to Zeus. All these Gods are representations of creators and people who do whatever they want. 

Going back to the topic of creating an identity for oneself, James Deering shows this inside of his house. All around his house, he has images of ships, showing that he is a conqueror, whether it is of nature or anything he can get a hold of. His home is mainly made to show everyone that he had the money and the power to do as he pleased, whether it is to have fake marble walls because they were more expensive, to have a Pompeii themed room, a refrigerator, a vacuum, a fresco painted outdoors, or a painting of the Virgin Mary cut in half. Absolutely everything in his possession was made to challenge any ideals that society has created. This is another representation of Miami and how it challenges many conservative and closed-minded ideals of other parts of the United States. 

One of my favorite parts of Vizcaya was James Deering’s references to sex. This subject always seems to be taboo and the fact that James Deering is unafraid to slap phallic symbols right in front of you is very influential. The most beautiful and comedic sexual reference he has around his gardens are all the shells. There are multiple benches, fountains, and mosaics around the garden that refer to the Greek Myth of the birth of Venus (an example is provided above in the photograph). His most important placement of a large shell is in the Secret Garden, where one of the benches has a large shell above it. It holds great symbolism since the benches in gardens we’re places where people of different classes could meet and be romantic together without the influence of societal norms. In this way, James Deering is once again breaking the rules and creating his own symbols.

ll The Eternal Love I Have For The Pumpkins by Yayoi Kusama

Design District As Text

The Power of Interpretation by Diana Cristancho from FIU at the Design District on November 20th, 2019

Touring the Design District and Wynwood I was able to visit the Yayoi Kusama exhibit, the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Wynwood walls. While visiting these locations and looking at the artwork, I was able to see both art that was intended to have meaning and not have meaning. That being said, I could see how projecting my interpretation of the artwork changed depending on what I knew about the artist and the world. The first place we went was the Yayoi Kusama exhibit of “All The Eternal Love I Have For The Pumpkins.” Immediately her story and the title of her exhibit reminded me of Silvia Plath. Walking into a room and being surrounded by projections of hundreds of versions of myself and polka dot pumpkins was like walking into another universe. Since she had synesthesia where she would hallucinate dots, she would use polka dots on her art as a symbol against the war, the dematerialization of objects, and the obliteration of the self. Walking into her infinity room did exactly that. Once I walked in, I was so amazed by all the hundreds of versions of myself. I could see every angle of myself and every pumpkin in the room. While it was like nothing I had ever experienced, it was also scary. I felt like another version of myself was going to turn around and look at me. The room is so encapsulating that it is almost necessary to allow each visitor to go in for only one minute. Time seems nonexistent inside and one could almost stay there forever and lose their mind in the process. It was a real-life version of the Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter. 

After leaving the world of Kusama, my class received a tour of the Institute of Contemporary Art. There we saw artists like Dan Flavin who plays with space and perception and Guadalupe Maravilla, an undocumented immigrant that created headpieces to discuss topics like immigration and homeless children. The largest part of the institute consisted of art by Sterling Ruby. With his artwork it is particularly easy to discuss the projection of yourself on art. Sterling Ruby shows so much diversity in his art with all the different mediums. At the same time, most of his art is connected since he would use scraps of material from one of his pieces for his other ones. While his art seems to be connected, the meaning of his art is unknown. This leaves his art to be open to interpretation, but as my professor, John Bailly, explained, “When something doesn’t have a concrete meaning, it creates critiques and viewers to put their intentions and personal agendas on it.” For example, one of his spray paint seems to look like pollution in the sky and one might think it is about global warming, but it can mean a variety of things. Since the tour guide explained that she thinks it is about pollution, it tends to stick in your mind but in reality, that interpretation is only one interpretation in an ecosystem of interpretations. As I was exposed more and more to his artwork, I noticed my mind running away from me and thinking about other things that reminded me of his works. For example, his ceramic pieces reminded me of what I imagined the cantos of hell in Dante’s Inferno to be. He also had a larger art piece of giant puppets with connecting hands made of cloth that had an American flag pattern. This immediately reminded me of the movie “Us” and the ending where all the people stand in a giant line holding hands. All these connections can lead to many deeper meanings about his artwork but once again it is only one interpretation out of many. My mind running wild throughout the tour proved the last comment that our tour guide made, “Art is a portal for us to think deeply.” 

Once we left the institute, we went to the Wynwood Walls. There we were able to experience the power of art in a community. The point of adding art to all the walls in Wynwood is to enhance a neighborhood or building. That being said, art is one of the best investments a city can make and it is very evident in Wynwood with so many people walking around. While there is art everywhere, the difference between the art on the walls and the art in a gallery or institute is that the art on the walls is only about what is aesthetically pleasing. While I think part of this is true, I still think that some street art still has meaning. In our other trips around Miami, our professor talks about how it is about the meaning behind the art and what is intended, but if some artists don’t intend art to have meaning, how can some street artists be any different than a person who puts their collages in a gallery. Everyone has an opinion and a feeling about the art they look at so the placement of art and why it was created shouldn’t dictate if a piece is art or not. 

Top: Coral Projects, Everglades Art Lab by Vanessa Albury, Rachel Frank, Thale Fastvold, Tanja Thorjussen with Reverend Houston Cypress of Love the Everglades; Bottom Left: Battle Royale: Last Man Standing Part 1 by Godfried Donkor; Bottom Middle: Wet Campaign by Ariel Cabrera; Bottom Right: Sometimes I Wonder If They Can Hear It As Well by Joana Choumali

Miami Art As Text

Selected by Diana Cristancho from FIU at Art Basel on December 4th, 2019

On Wednesday, December 4th, 2019, I visited one of the most popular events in Miami for the first time. Art Basel which only appears three times a year in three different locations around the world came to Miami Beach, Florida to showcase well known and new art from all around the world. The first part of Art Basel I visited was right on the beach called Untitled. There they had a few of the 4,000 artists exhibited in Art Basel. In this section, there are booths set up for each Gallery presenting their artwork. Untitled was mostly a primary market, where galleries sell artwork directly from the artist. For the most part, each work presented in the same booth had a coherent theme even if it was artworks by different artists. The likeness of each artwork is mostly due to the application process that each gallery has to go through before being able to present their artwork at the fair. A gallery must fill out an application with a plan as to what they will be presenting in their booth. They fill out a diagram of the placement of each piece and submit images of the art they will present. If the artwork is not complete, the gallery and artist or artists can work together to create a proposal that describes what would be created and set up at the booth. This was shown with the Benrubi Gallery, who presented a site-specific intervention called Coral Projects: Everglades Art Lab. The founding artist, Vanessa Albury was very organic with the creation of her project and had no set placing of each plant in the booth. The application explained that it was going to be based on the Everglades and that for the creation of the project, Vanessa Albury, Rachel Frank, and their team would be tracking animals, observe the environment, doing research on the health of the environment and create a natural laboratory for artists while leaving a neutral footprint that doesn’t affect the everglades. Inevitably this project talks about the controversial topic that is climate change and the survival of the everglades. 

While the application process of applying to Art Basel and getting selected can be tedious, I learned that it is not the only difficulty galleries go through to complete their final product at an art fair. For example, Gallery 1957, who presented artworks from Joana Choumali, Godfried Donkor, and Simphiwe Mbunyuza explained that one of the largest difficulties was transporting the artwork and the artists from Africa. Transportation of artwork can take months and to transport the artist, galleries need to help the artists get their visas which can be a very lengthy process. At times the artists don’t get their visas on time and end up not being able to go to the fairs. For the artwork, the biggest problem is getting them through customs. The director of the Gallery, Victoria Cooke was very knowledgeable about this since she informed us that their gallery enters into 8 international art fairs a year, which is a lot for a gallery. Not only did Victoria inform us about their process of getting to art fairs but she also thoroughly explained to us the different artists presented at the booth and their backstories. The first artist was Godfried Donkor, a British Ghanaian artist that is held in many institutions worldwide. The artwork that was presented at Untitled showed the history of boxing and slave boxing through paintings of one or two men in the ring prepared to box. He wanted to show how slaves were chosen by their owners and put in a ring to fight to the death for 70 to 100 rounds. He also created a painting of Tom Molineaux who was the first black man to be celebrated after fighting his way to freedom. In all of his art, Godfried painted halos around the boxers because he wanted to celebrate them. With his painting style, he ends up discussing contemporary issues with a traditional painting style. Next to Godfried extremely masculine artwork, Joana Choumali’s feminine artwork is presented. She started as a photojournalist, but after getting sick, she could no longer take pictures and taught herself how to sew out of frustration. With her sewing skills, she began to sew the figures in photographs she would take. Through her art, she was able to explore a new way of art while challenging her sense of touch and emotions. 

Top: Portal Icosahedron by Anthony James; Bottom Left:Portrait of a Lady by Kehinde Wiley; Bottom Middle: Rocky Creek by Deborah Butterfield; Bottom Right: Super 30 by Peter Halley

After visiting Untitled, my class visited Art Miami which is more of a secondary market where collectors sell art that they already bought from a gallery or another collector. Having a secondary market as well as a primary market allows a larger profit to be made. For example, there were paintings by Pablo Picasso and Fernando Botero. specific piece of art that was particularly impressive was a piece by Max Ernst, who was poor and painted on different surfaces which then translated the patterns from the surface onto his works. The fact that this piece was there was notable because his art can’t be found in places like the Perez Art Museum and the Margulies collection, but it was at Art Basel. Something else that piqued my interest during our visit was the works of Joseph Albers and Peter Halley. Joseph Albers was a color theorist, painter, and educator at Yale University who ended up teaching Halley. Since Halley was his student, you can see the influence Albers has on Halley. Both of them use rectangular and square shapes in their art. Although Halley has a similar style to Albers, Halley uses neon colors. The last artist I am going to mention is Kehinde Wiley who paints African American males in the form of traditional European paintings that were usually used for paintings for kings. Whiley’s paintings were created to empower the men in the paintings and what they have gone through. Wiley is specifically known for being asked to paint the presidential portrait of Barack Obama. All these artists are just a few of the very impressionable artists presented at Art Basel and I think it is incredible to have so many pieces with so many different meanings and stories in one place. 

Picture taken by Nicholas Pastrana

Bakehouse as Text

More Than One Sense by Diana Cristancho from FIU at the Emerson Dorsch Gallery on January 15, 2020

My professor once mentioned that one of the most impactful aspects of contemporary art is the ability to interact with it. Having the ability to use more than just your sense of sight to observe and react to a piece of art. In the Emerson Dorsch Gallery, my class was able to experience using our sense of smell and touch while wrapping ourselves with the flamboyant and captivating pieces of art by Mette Tommerup.

When walking into the gallery, Mette’s large installation fills the room. Some were hung on the walls as thick canvases and others were draped over wooden sticks. My first impression when I walk in was amazed at how many pieces there were but my second thought was, “how am I not supposed to touch anything when there’s so much around the room?” When entering, most of the students tiptoed around the art, making sure we wouldn’t knock anything down. To our surprise, the pieces hung on the wood were made to be touched and worn. Mette encouraged us to take it off the racks and throw it over ourselves to make us part of the art. At first most of my class was hesitant but after a while, we ended up getting creative with all the different ways we could wear them. Some of the canvases were engulfing groups of three or four while others only held one. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The texture of the canvas was rough and the smell of it was as satisfying as smelling the pages of an old book. Although I originally thought walking into this gallery was going to consist of us being quiet and observing the art with our hands behind our backs, it turned into a room filled with laughter and loud conversation.

Before interacting with the artwork, Mette introduced herself and gave us a little debriefing on her artwork. She explained all her pieces were different and spontaneous. Since many of her pieces are created by the folds she makes in the cloth, no one can ever be recreated. Some of her works were large and others were small. There was a variety of warm and cool colors used, although they were mostly warm. Something very interesting about her work is that since each piece is very spontaneous, some pieces came out the way she wants and others don’t. Her works also have a lot of relations with nature. Most of the time, she would make her pieces in her backyard and nature itself would make an impact; for example, if it rained. She also had a collection of pieces that correlated to the ocean called Ocean Loop. She dropped her paintings into the ocean and watched them sink and float away. According to her, she was having a midlife crisis and this was her way of expressing herself. Not only does this show how her art is connected to her emotions and her daily life, but also the universe and nature around her. It was almost like a sacrifice and a cry for help from the world and its energies.

What captivated me the most about Mette, her colleagues at the gallery and her art was how organic it all was. Their conversations were so familiar and soothing. Watching them interact made you want to join in and ask questions, just like Mette’s art made you want to touch it. Her openness breaks boundaries and allows so many possibilities. Being in the major of Recreational Therapy, all I could think of the entire time was how amazing it would be to incorporate Mette artwork into therapy. The canvases weigh a view pounds but they’re no super heavy, so they provide just the right amount of pressure to instill relaxation. Different methods of meditation and yoga could be used under the canvases as well. There are so many opportunities that can arise from using her pieces to reduce anxiety and stress and I think it would contribute even more to her artwork.

Sleep by Kehinde Wiley

Rubell as Text

Uncensored by Diana Cristancho from FIU at the Rubell Museum

 Nowadays, so many topics are controversial and taboo. Everyone is constantly walking on eggshells hoping no one gets offended. Walking into the Rubell Museum, you need to walk in with an open mind because most, if not all of the art will challenge everything you know. But what is art if it is not to speak up by using so much more than words. The Rubell holds art that speaks up on African American Culture, women’s oppression, sex and more. 

One of my favorite artists, Kehinde Wiley had a piece titled Sleep displayed in the center of the museum. It is the largest Wiley piece I have seen in person and it was incredible to see. I’m fascinated with his art and the way he celebrates African American culture. In this painting, a black man is sprawled out over white sheets almost completely nude. While there are a lot of details I enjoy about Wiley’s paintings, one of my favorites is the way he paints the individual’s skin. The man is painted with such perfect and smooth skin making him seem god-like. The man sleeping is also laid down in a peaceful and royal way as if it was being painted for a king. Apart from that, the background is painted with pastel fauna that accentuates the sleeping man. Describing it with words can’t compare to its beauty and how amazed you feel looking at it. It’s only fitting that Kehinde Wiley painted Barack and Michelle Obama’s portraits. 

    Apart from Kehinde Wiley, another artist that stood out to me was Tschabalala Self. Her piece Two Girls displays three figures of black women overlapped on top of each other. It’s made of paint, fabric, and pieces of her old works. In this piece, she challenges the societal views of black female bodies. The three figures are all very voluptuous in figure with large breasts, legs, and posteriors. The women are standing in very strong stances with their legs separated and straight postures. Two out of the three women are also staring directly at the crowd as if to dare you to oppress and objectify them. Self emphasizes their beauty and tries to show that their bodies are sanctuaries of power. So many women, especially black women, throughout history and even to this day are objectified and torn down to something less than what they are. I can’t help but connect this piece to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The figure in the painting reminds me of the character Sofia, a large and strong black woman. Not only that but of the challenges of objectification the protagonist Celie and one of the secondary characters Shug Avery faces throughout the novel. That being said, this piece wants to show that no matter what, oppressed black women will always stand tall and are more than just bodies. 

    Two other artists that shocked and impressed me were Charles Ray and Paul McCarthy. Charles Ray is someone you’ll never forget. His piece Oh! Charley, Charley, Charley is a compilation of naked male mannequins that are meant to be him. All of them are participating in different gay sexual acts. This sculpture is Charles’ portrayal of self-pleasure which essentially is having sex with yourself. While talking about self-pleasure is taboo seeing it in the way Ray sculpts it pushes it past the limits of just taboo. Paul McCarthy also speaks about phallic actions and culture with his sculpture of a father encouraging his son in actions of beastiality with a goat. Here McCarthy is speaking up on the relationship between a father and his son and how a boy is raised seeing sex. It’s seen as something to achieve and a right of passage, but not necessarily with a goat. Not only that, but it speaks up on how some men see women as animals and just beings to help them fulfill their needs. 

All these taboo topics are only restricted by whether or not people want to talk about it. The more it is spoken about and emphasized the less censored it becomes. When I first entered the Rubell Museum I was surprised and shocked when I saw so many grotesque pieces, but after a while I expected it. The Rubell Museum is exceptional and everyone should visit so that they may be challenged by all the works. 

Jennifer Basile in the process of printmaking

MDC Printmaking as Text

From Viewer to Creatorby Diana Cristancho from FIU at the Miami-Dade College

Throughout my experience in the Art Society Conflict class, we’ve gone to multiple art galleries, collections, and more. For the first time, my class was not only given the opportunity to meet an artist but to create our own art as well. We went to the Miami Dade College Kendall campus to meet Jennifer Basile where she introduced us to the art of printmaking. She is the studio art teacher at MDC and invited us to her classroom to learn from her and the equipment she has. There she introduced herself and how she is from New York and studied at the Southern Illinois University. She was very welcoming and very passionate about the different ways and types of printmaking. She spoke about printmaking using linoleum, which she had a few examples of around the room. There were actual carved out linoleum blocks and the prints already done. She also explained the process of printmaking using plexiglass. She showed us how to get the ink on the brayer and properly spread it on the plexiglass. She introduced to us different techniques to creating different shapes and textures on the ink. Afterwards she taught us how to use the press.

The experience with Jennifer was something I will never forget. The fact that she has an exhibition in the LNS isn’t surprising. After looking at a few of her pieces I couldn’t help but focus on the different thicknesses of the cuts into the linoleum. A lot of her work includes nature and shows different environments. Throughout our conversations with her, she expressed how sustainable and environmentally friendly she tries to be. She talked about using less plastic and reusing plastic bags a lot. The way she spoke about the environment, her students, her work and printmaking made the environment very comfortable. You could tell that she is an amazing teacher.

Komorebi By Diana Cristancho

Deering Estate As Text

“A Home That Inspires”by Diana Cristancho from FIU at The Deering Estate

The Deering Estate holds many important roles such as protecting the environment, preserving the history of South Florida, and hosting many beautiful events, but a role that it holds that isn’t seen from afar is that it inspires. Only those who have entered the gates of the Deering Estate can truly experience the meaning of this. If you stop and take a moment, nature and its silence have so much to say through the words, paintings, and actions of others. 

A straight, downward walk to the end of the estate, you’ll see a breathtaking spot, the Boat Basin. This small body of water acts as a resting area for many animals such as manatees, sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, and stingrays. Getting the chance to see one of these spectacular animals in their habitat is not something you get to see every day. In this spot, you can take inspiration and a moment of peace from almost anything, whether it be the tide rising and falling, the sunset and sunrise, the island of Chicken Key in the distance, the Woodpeckers pecking an almost symmetrical hole in the hollowness of a palm tree or seeing Ibises fly from the mangroves to the mainland. It is a perfect place to have a picnic, read a book, write a poem, or simply meditate. 

While this spot sounds like the most perfect place to be, the Deering Estate has a variety of other locations just as beautiful as this one. My favorite, yet simple spot on the estate is the Mango and Avocado groves in the Nature Preserve. If you sit at the back of the grove you can see the shadows of the trees across the grass and the light of the sun shining between all the leaves. You can almost distinguish each ray of sunlight hitting the ground and when the Mango trees are in bloom, it is even more captivating. Another spot where you can see this as well is in the Tropical Hardwood Hammock. It is a cool and shady place that is composed of fauna from the Caribbean Islands. 

Cutler Creek Bridge is another spot on the estate that seems unreal. When the tide is high and the water flows under the bridge, you can sometimes see otters swimming by. The bridge also has an elegant, natural decor of ferns along the sides of the bridge. Make sure to keep a lookout for the Maidenhair fern while you’re there. The next spot is quite symbolic and holds a lot of mystery. It’s where man meets nature, the Airplane. In the 1990s, an airplane crashed into the mangroves and is now being consumed by the habitat. There is so much irony here, considering that usually the roles are reversed and humans are the ones consuming and destroying nature. 

The last and easiest spot to reach is the People’s Dock. This location is East of the Visitor’s Center and is on the Biscayne Bay. Here people come to fish, watch the sunset, have picnics and play guitar. All these locations on the Deering Estate are harborers of creativity and safe spaces for people, plants, and animals. It distances itself from the usual chaos of Miami and creates a home that inspires.

Neon Aesthetics Photo by Rocio Sanchez

Miami Beach As Text

An Architectural Paradise” by Diana Cristancho from FIU at Miami Beach

Miami Beach bringing in 20 million tourists each year comes with its reasons. The aesthetic and design of South Beach are like no other and it is all thanks to the cultivation of art and architecture in the area. The first aspect and most captivating part of the area is the Art Deco Architecture. It is a design that derives from the early 20th century and its obsession with machinery and technology. Mimicking the formations of machines, many of the buildings are three stories tall and have the faces of the buildings separated into 3 parts. Apart from that, most of the buildings have the same range of colors of white and pastels acting as a reflection of the ocean and the environment around it. Other details of the architecture include concrete shades hovering over windows, glass bricks, Terrazzo floors, relief artwork, and neon colors giving it the feeling of Miami Vice. A spectacular place to visit with Art Deco architecture is the Jewish Museum of Florida. Not only does it have the ambiance of this sleek architecture, but it also has 80 stained glass windows, a copper dome, and a marble bimah. 

Having architecture with such an intense artistic value, it is only fitting that events such as Art Basel, Swim Week, and Model Volleyball are hosted in South Beach. Hosting so many large events, important figures such as Gianni Versace have a large impact on the neighborhood. The Italian Fashion designer lived in an Art Deco building called the Villa Casa Casuarina. Having such a huge influence on the culture of the area, he emphasized the self-indulgent aspect of it all. Even though South Beach can be described as hedonistic, it has its more beautiful and natural features. For example, the Betsy Poetry Rail, in an alleyway by the Betsy Hotel, displays poems of many authors who have influenced Miami through their writing. One especially distinguished artist includes Richard Blanco and his poem “Some Days the Sea.” In his poem, he emphasizes the beauty of the ocean and its environment, as well as its constant transformation. Apart from that, many walls around Ocean Drive have Relief Art, which portrays abstract depictions of plants and animals. 

With its architecture, art, events, and flamboyant culture, Miami Beach is a paradise like no other.