Miami Animal Rescue
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 of doing acts of kindness for other.
Describe which artist or institution you volunteered with.
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 animals 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 did you connect with this opportunity?
WHERE & WHAT
Describe specifically what you did and on which days. This should read as a personal and academic diary. Include photographs documenting your experience from start to end.
Students must register and have approved their hours on myhonors. Post a screenshot of the approved hours. Please delete all personal contact information.
Assess your experience. What worked? What didn’t?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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].
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].
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].
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].
“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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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].
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].
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.
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.
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.
- Adeniji, Ade. “Martin Margulies: Real Estate Grants.” Inside Philanthropy, Inside Philanthropy, 17 July 2019, http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/real-estate-givers/martin-margulies.
- Arielhauter. “Martin Z. Margulies.” ARTnews.com, 11 Dec. 2019, http://www.artnews.com/art-collectors/top-200-profiles/martin-z-margulies/.
- “Can It Really Be 20 Years Already? Art in Our Times, Contemporary Masters, and Philanthropy.” Martin Z. Margulies Foundation, 2019.
- “Images.” Margulies Collection, Martin Z. Margulies Foundation, 2019, http://www.margulieswarehouse.com/.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MDC Printmaking as Text
From Viewer to Creator by 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.