MIM Fall 2019 Service Project: Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda

For my service project, I helped my community through my church in multiple ways. I have read the lecture in mass to help as much as I can spread the word of God. Although a service project is for the most part secular, it is the intentions behind the church and the project that are what truly matter. By reading, I am helping my community not only grow closer to God, but I am also helping people arrive to be a better person. At the end of the day, the teachings of the Bible are the teachings to become a good person and productive member of society. A reading that I did for the Catholic Church on December 8th, Romans 15:4-9, the Bible’s teachings were about finding harmony in mankind, and act with truthfulness. This teaches people to be kind, honest, and good members of society, something I personally believe in and something I’m glad I shared with my community.

I also took part in the church’s events for Thanksgiving and Christmas. For Thanksgiving, me and my mother signed up to make food for an annual feast for the poor, including turkey chili and tuna casserole. For Christmas, my church has Family to Family Helping Hands, paper cutout hands with families in need and the children on each of the fingers. This year I chose 2 ‘hands’ with two children. Both had one boy and one girl around the ages of 13-15. I was unfortunately unable to make it to the Thanksgiving feast or the Christmas delivery, but I was still happy providing food and gifts to the people who need it most. I was so happy to take part in this, because it really does help. Although I missed the delivery this year, I was part of the wrapping and delivering in past years and it truly is a joy to see the good in people’s hearts, especially in a time where all we worry about is what’s going wrong. I’m so happy that I get to help those who truly need it, and I look participating in years to come.

MIM Ineffable Miami Fall 2019: Kendall by Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda

STUDENT BIO 

My name is Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda. I am currently an FIU freshman in the first semester, and a resident of Miami-Dade County. I live in a part of Miami known as Unincorporated Miami Dade, in between Kendall and Pinecrest. Growing up, I always went to magnet schools, where kids would share where they live, and that would more or less determine who your friends are. Because I was in the middle, I never identified with the ‘Kendall Crew’ or the ‘Pinecrest Peeps’. When asked to do this project I decided I wanted to learn and write about as much as I could for both parts of Miami to see what really distinguishes them. In the spring, I hope to be able to do Pinecrest as my Ineffable Miami Project, so I can see the differences in communities that are so close together. 

GEOGRAPHY

For the purposes of this travel guide, there will be self-imposed boundaries to estimate the location of Kendall and its many qualities. The area of Kendall will extend up to Snapper Creek, Down to the Falls (North and South), and within the west side of US1 to 117 Ave (West and East). Although there are no mountains, or significant hills, there are bodies of water, such as Snapper Creek, E Lake, Miami’s canal system. Although Kendall is close to the ocean, the boundaries do not touch, and therefore does not include any coastal area or ocean.

HISTORY

Pre-19th century: Kendall, like the rest of South Florida was inhabited by Native Americans for many years, such the Tequestas. Although there are not many records of these people due to the devastation caused by European conquistadors such as Ponce De Leon, they inhabited much of South Florida through archeological sites such as those found in the Deering Estate and the Miami Circle. In fact, according to Jean Taylor, historian and writer, two Seminole camps existed within the borders of Kendall, and existed up until the 1940s (39-49). 

19th to 20th Century: In 1883, the Florida Land and Mortgage Company purchased the land and named it after the company’s director Henry John Broughton Kendall. Because the land could not be used to make self-sustainable farms, development was slow in the 1900s, when Kendall eventually moved into the area. The first institutions to be put in place were the first post office in 1914, and the first school in 1929. After 1926, and collapse of the ‘Land Boom’ real estate market in Florida, some people left, which put a damper on the development of the Kendall area. This collapse had an impact not unlike the 2008 recession according to Donald Rapp, economist and author of Bubbles, Booms, and Busts (164). Kendall continued to flourish and development, however racially was and still is predominantly a white neighborhood. In fact, a map of black residential areas in 1990 Miami had little difference to that of 1938 Miami, as these neighborhoods tended to be north, away from Kendall (Mohl,2001 3).

Image Above (Mohl,1995 395)

20th to 21st Century: Today, there are no more laws or rules that prohibit this, there is still an unspoken rule of Miami and Kendall that there are certain parts of town for certain people. Although there were racial issues, the residence and culture of Kendall began to develop further and further until 1992, and the events of Hurricane Andrew. The Miami Herald remembering this tragedy described that many homes were destroyed and had to be rebuilt, reinforcing code to prepare in case of another much like it, taking many years to recuperate from the natural disaster (Morgan 3-4). For the most part, the result of that rebuilding is what is seen in modern-day Kendall.

DEMOGRAPHICS (according to the 2010 United States Census Bureau)

Population: 75,371

Age: The percentage split based on age in Kendall is divided by people under 5 and 18, and people of 65 years and older. Those under 5 years of age, registered as infants, or small children, are 4.5% of the Kendall population. Those under the age of 18, registered as minors, or young adults, are 18.8% of the Kendall population. Those who are and are over the age of 65, registered as senior citizens, are 17.9% of the population. The remaining 58.8% are registered as adults within the age gap of 18 and 64.

Sex: In terms of sex, the percentage split is between males and females. The amount of females is 51.8% of Kendall’s population, meaning the remaining 48.2% is male. These statistics are challenged by people who are intersex or born with no biological distinction between male and female.

Race and Ethnicity: In the US Census, there are 5 races: white, black, native American, Asian, and pacific islander. Within Kendall, the white population is 88%, dominating the other races as the majority. The percentage of black people in Kendall is 3.7%, and the amount of Asians is not much higher at 3.9%. The amount of American Indians or native Alaskans is the same as the amount of native Hawaiian or pacific islanders which is 0.0%. People who are a mixture of two or more races are 2.4% of the population, but looking at this data, it is clear that Kendall is a predominantly white neighborhood in terms of race. However, in terms of ethnicity, the US Census only asks whether Hispanic or not. Hispanics and/or Latinos in Kendall are 66.9% of the population, while 24.9% is white alone. This question can potentially limit the collection of accurate data due to the presence of more ethnicities without necessarily having to be white.

LANDMARKS

St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Church

Places of Worship: St Andrew Greek Orthodox Church is a beautiful eastern orthodox church not only known for their triangle-like structure, but also for their events. Their annual Greek Festival in mid-November is something that both locals and tourists come to enjoy. A celebration of greek culture and religion attracts audiences of all ages with food, beverages, carnival rides, and shopping kiosks. It is something that Miamians and local Kendallians look forward to each year to bring in the holidays. After the festival, they sell Christmas trees to spread the joy of Christ to all. Their mass is in both English and Greek, depending on time. Whether Christian or atheist, this church is a Kendall staple. Beth Or, a Jewish synagogue, is less known than the St Andrew Greek Orthodox Church, but nonetheless, their teachings and events are still crucial to the Kendall community. Every Friday, they have Kabbalat Shabbat Services, a musical celebration from 7:30 to 8:30 with food and liveliness. They also have an LGBTQ+ support group called BeJewQ that meets the first Sunday of every month to help those who are abandoned or rejected because of their identities. They also have other less-known social justice programs that are not only limited to Jewish people, but to all who identify and want to be involved. This community of people regardless of their religion creates a sense of love and pride for Kendall residence, however, there is a major lack of mosques and mandirs within the area. Mosques are places of worship for Muslims where they can practice their religion and read the Quran, while a mandir is the Hindu place of worship for people who read and practice Vedas in the Shruti. Although the US census does not account for religion, there are still members of both Muslim and Hinduism in Kendall that have to travel to other places to worship.

Continental Park’s Dice House

Historical Sites: The Dice House, located at 10000 SW 82nd Ave is a historic house built by David Brantley Dice during the 1920s (Dice House 1). It was designated a historic site by the Miami-Dade County Historic Preservation Board in 1989 (Dice House 1). The house attempted to become a preschool and daycare center until Bernardo Junco attempted to make it a coffee shop (Dice House 1). It was finally due to the Miami Parks and Recreation Department, Dade Heritage Trust Inc, owner Bernardo Junco, and ex-commissioner Katy Sorenson that it became an after school recreation center where the community could hold events for children as well as adults (Dice House 1). It still stands today within the Continental Park. Another historical site is Janet Reno’s home, a small homestead in Kendall, was built by hand in the 1940s by Janet Reno’s mother Jane Wood Reno, and her husband Henry Reno (Viglucci 14). It is now owned by Janet Reno’s sibling, Maggie Hurchalla, and brothers Mark and Robert that now look after the house (Viglucci 11). The location looks very ‘run-down’ and old, however, the plants and peacocks that overpower the house are what make it so nostalgic and reminiscent of a time where South Florida was still the Everglades.

Dadeland Mall Entrance

Shopping Centers: Dadeland Mall is the biggest indoor shopping center of Kendall, and one of the most popular in the nation. On the corner of North Kendall Drive and US1, the mall is sleek and modern with chain restaurants to attract people. Inside there are high-end stores, as well as affordable stores attracting multiple audiences to this location. Although the stores and dining options inside are chains, the mall itself is not, and is very stereotypical of the image of Miami, clean, contemporary, and comfortable. With the Dadeland condos right next to it, it attracts many tourists. Because of this attention of the mall, across the street in Downtown Dadeland, many businesses that are small and local are left to die, such as small eateries and quaint boutiques. 

Museums:  There is a serious lack of art, history, and science museums within the Kendall area. However, there are two museums of the westernmost side of Kendall: Lisa Ann Watson Children’s Discovery Museum, the National Videogame History Museum. The Children’s Discovery Museum is located within the Alper JCC and is currently focused on interactive art based on Andy Warhol’s works in the Pop Art Movement. The National Videogame History Museum is the history of technology put into each of the video games throughout time. According to their website, they strive to “describe, preserve and educate” through interactive activities and hands-on learning (Mission Statement 1). Although this museum specifically is attractive to older audiences that understand the technology and its components, both museums are more centered and mostly attracted to children, and so there is a lack of initiative for adults being cultured and learning about other values of life in Kendall. It is evident that Kendall is mainly residential, but rather there be three huge shopping centers, there should be more initiative to have at least one adult-centered museum, without a long commute to Miami Beach to see PAMM or the Frost Science Museum.

GREEN

Lake View in Indian Hammocks Park (night)

Indian Hammocks Park is the main green space of Kendall. Its massive area allows for all sorts of green area that can be used for the public. There are small courtyards and gazebos that are used for yoga and outdoor activities, there are 36 holes for disc golf, and a skate court that skaters of all ages can appreciate. Small grills are also stationed throughout the park for any barbecue. There are also baseball fields where many schools play games and practice. There is also a lake that overlooks the highway that is the perfect spot for a picnic or a late stroll. Continental Park is another amazing park filled with activities. Like Indian Hammocks, it has baseball courts that others can use, but it also has tennis courts, classes, and a summer camp program. The main house and the dice house can be reserved for private events, as well as a playground for the little ones. Although smaller than Indian Hammocks, Continental still has a lot to offer, and most importantly, a space of nature and tranquility. The Environmental Center at MDC’s Kendall Campus is a 9-acre reserve, filled with flora and fauna native to Florida (MDC 2). The trails lead to many hotspots in the reserve, such as a lake, pinelands, hammocks, butterfly gardens, and many animals (MDC 2). Unfortunately, the Environmental Center is not open due to renovation, and have canceled field trips and events for the time being, but usually, classes are offered, and you can schedule events and field trips on their website (MDC 1).

TRANSPORTATION

Miami Metro: The two train stations within the borders of Kendall are Dadeland South and Dadeland North. For the most part, the Metrorail runs along US1, and because the easternmost part of Kendall borders only part of US1, the metro is not the best form of transportation for Kendall.

Miami Buses: There are multiple buses in the public transportation system, such as 34 Express, 35/35A, 38 Busway MAX, 39 Express, 52, 71, 73, 87, 88, and 104. These are all buses that take you from or to Kendall, depending on if they are northbound, southbound, eastbound, or westbound. However, bus 288/288A is specific to only Kendall, therefore this is the most recommended bus to take to explore Kendall’s geography and landmarks. To keep track of all buses and metro rails, it is highly recommended that you download the Miami-Dade Transit Tracker, a free mobile app on your device that tracks the location, and tells you each individual stop.

Highways and Main Roads: Snapper Creek Expressway, or Route 878, is a toll highway that travels from Kendall in the west and US1 in the east. As the name suggests it runs parallel to Snapper Creek, a canal close by 72nd St. The Don Shula Expressway, or Route 874, is a toll highway that runs through Kendall, from Glenvar Heights on the north end, and the Florida Turnpike on the south end. This highway is the best way to travel within Kendall and is named after Don Shula, a former football coach for the Miami Dolphins, whose legacy has stayed in the city not only in a highway, but also through many sports venues, hotels, and restaurants. The Palmetto Expressway, or Route 826, is a toll highway that ends on US1 by Kendall on the south end, and on the north end, in Sunny Isles Beach. This highway is the best way to travel outside and back to Kendall. Miami’s fastest road runs on the easternmost border of Kendall, called US1. Although it is not best for traveling within Kendall, it is very good for traveling throughout Miami after 10 am and before 5 pm. US1 is the longest road in the United States running from Key West, the southernmost part of the US, all the way to the Canadian border in Fort Kent, Maine. North Kendall Drive, or 88th St, is the heart of Kendall. This road is the fastest to get anywhere within Kendall’s boundaries, with many local shops and eateries that will be the main focus of this guide. Sunset Drive, or 72nd St, is the next major street north of Kendall Drive close to Snapper Creek and traveling into South Miami on the east side of US1. This street is convenient for traveling both in and out of the Kendall area. Galloway Road, or 87th Ave, runs through both Kendall and Sunset Drive and is another very convenient way of traveling within and outside of Kendall with minimal traffic.

FOOD

The Norman Brothers

The Norman Brothers, located at 7621 SW 87th Ave, is a grocery store that had been in Kendall for over 40 years, not only making it a local place to eat, but also a historical site. This family-owned business sells things from produce to snacks, however, they also sell prepared food such as their famous hamburgers and delicious sandwiches. 80-year-old Salvador Juncadella, a lifelong resident of Kendall, says that it is “his favorite hamburger”, and that the quality of their products is “very good and very fresh.” When asked about the sanitary inspections and scandal in 2018, he responded that “there were setbacks, yes they had some errors, but they have cleaned up and they have good food; I trust them.” Even with the complications of grocery inspections and health hazards, the people of Kendall have trust and faith in this family business that they will clean up their business and continue to satisfy and serve (Neal 38). The Hole in the Wall, a local bar located at 8002 SW 81st Dr, is a gold mine for locals. With good beer, good friends, and a great atmosphere, this place is always packed on a Friday night. The service can’t be beaten with waiters and bartenders that truly enjoy what they do, and the night’s game on the big screen is always a must at any bar. There is another location on US1, however, it is not a chain. The Hole in the Wall is also family-friendly and highly recommended to have a drink or grab a bite.

BUSINESSES

Galloway Farm and Nursery

In a mostly residential area of Kendall, Galloway Nursery is a fast and convenient way to get greenery for your home or garden without traveling down all the way to homestead. With their beautiful plants, it’s a refreshing oasis in the concrete realm of 87th Avenue. The kind service and clean environment match their unbeatable deals and low prices. This simple, local business is always willing to go out of the way for a customer. Another local business is the kid-friendly orthodontics on Main Street Kendall. Dr. Hector Prieto works hard to fix smiles and help kids have happy healthy teeth. Although this does not seem very big, a child’s self-esteem can be brought up through just fixing their smile. Dr. Prieto also teaches children how important hygiene is, including brushing their teeth and flossing.

SUMMARY

Overall, Kendall’s main problem’s lies in its history, and as a result, its demographics. Due to the history of it being a white town during the height of racism and segregation, it continued to be a predominantly white town even after the Civil Rights Movement, according to the 2010 US Census. The landmarks within Kendall are very limited, as places of worship are limited to certain religions, and as museums are limited to children. Thankfully, the historical sites that do exist within Kendall continue to be preserved and open to the public to learn. Major shopping areas such as Dadeland Mall are limiting small local companies like boutiques and coffee shops to flourish, as corporate America takes over the quickly urbanizing Kendall, however, the local eateries and businesses that do survive are due to a loyal community and reliable services. Despite how quickly it’s urbanizing, Kendall has done a very good job of keeping needed green-space in places such as Indian Hammock, Continental, and the MDC Environment Center. Their transportation systems are extensive and inexpensive, and there are many options to commute and explore Kendall and other parts of Miami. Although there is the issue of race, age, and religion, Kendall demonstrates a tightly knit community that is impressive for an area so large. Kendall should strive to create a more inclusive environment for all citizens and have a more welcoming attitude towards people of all color and religion and should strive to educate and serve its needs to create a more cultured and lively environment, but maintaining that sense of community.

WORKS CITED

Historical Marker Project. “The Dice House – Kendall – FL – US.” Historical Marker Project, Historical Marker Project, 22 Sept. 2014, historicalmarkerproject.com/markers/HM1G5W_the-dice-house_Kendall-FL.html.

“Mission Statement.” Mission Statement – The National Video Game History Museum, www.nvghm.org/mission-statement.html.

Mohl, R.A. (1995). Making of the Second Ghetto in Metropolitan Miami, 1940-1960. Journal of Urban History, 21(3), 395-427. doi: 10/1177/009614429502100305.

Mohl, R.A. (2001). Whitening Miami: Race, Housing and Government Policy in Twentieth-Century Dade County. The Florida Historical Quarterly, 79(3). Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/30150856

Morgan, “Remembering the fury of Hurricane Andrew in South Florida”. Miamiherald.

Neal, David J. “Which Chain Had Moldy Empanadas? And Where Did Water Leak on Pork? Grocers Get Inspected.” Miamiherald, Miami Herald, 24 Sept. 2018, www.miamiherald.com/living/food-drink/article218916975.html.

Rapp, Donald. Bubbles, booms, and busts: The rise and fall of financial assets. Springer, 2014.

“School of Continuing Education& Professional Development.” Miami Dade College, www.mdc.edu/ce/sp/environmental/.

Taylor, Jean (1985). Villages of South Dade. St. Petersburg, Fla: B. Kennedy. pp. 39–49. LCCN 88132899. OCLC 18906834.

“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Kendall Park CDP, New Jersey; Kendale Lakes CDP, Florida; Kendall CDP, Florida.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/kendallparkcdpnewjersey,kendalelakescdpflorida,kendallcdpflorida/POP060210#POP060210.

Viglucci, Andres. “What Will Happen to Janet Reno’s Famed Rustic Kendall Homestead? The News Is Good.” Miamiherald, Miami Herald, 4 Apr. 2017, www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/kendall/article142629089.html.

Miami in Miami: Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda

ABOUT ME

Hello, my name is Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda, and I am currently a freshman at the Florida International University Honors College. As a resident of Miami, I graduated from Coral Reef Senior High School with honors and under the International Baccalaureate program. As a freshman in college, I look forward to learning and experiencing the many opportunities that college and classes have to offer. I aspire to have a career in Marine Biology and work towards this goal in my studies at Florida International University. I look forward to the rest of my time at FIU, and to the opportunities yet to come.

METRO AS TEXT

During Miami Metro Day, I had the experience of exploring parts of Miami that I had never seen before. We started at Dadeland South and bought our tickets for the day there. We discussed the benefits of having a public transportation system and how it helps many people in the community but also critiqued it knowing that is was expensive and that it didn’t extend to most places in Miami. 

Our first stop was University, where we walked down Ponce de Leon to the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami. In the museum, we saw Greek pottery that was over 2,000 years old, and two new El Greco baroque pieces, and how it differed from the gothic style, in the new donated Crest Collection. There we talked about the cultural exchange across cultures and the beginning of modern Miami. 

Walking through the Vizcaya Trails

After that, we stopped at Vizcaya, a European villa built during World War 1 by James and Charles Deering. Entering, we see a statue of Ponce de Leon, the founder of Florida and Miami, and later Dionysis as we enter the very roman style house, greeting guests with this idea of luxury and fun when entering Miami, made by the wealthy ‘gods’ of Vizcaya as represented by the glass window of “J’ai Dit,” I have said. 

In Overtown

We then went to Overtown where we learned about the Lyric Theater and the importance of the community until the 1960s, when I-95 was built above it. We then ate at the delicious and unique Jackson Soul Food, a historic restaurant opened in 1946 by Jessie E. and Demas Jackson and their 12 children. Now it is owned by Shirlene Jackson, and the family legacy still continues. 

My first excursion with Professor Bailly was definitely memorable, and I definitely learned so much more about Miami, even though I have lived here my entire life. It was an eye-opening experience, and I look forward to riding the Metrorail more often, and to our next excursion.

HISTORY MIAMI AS TEXT

On this week’s excursion, we explored the historical side of Downtown Miami and Viscaya, and discussed the problematic issues and saddening truths, while also exploring the beautiful culture and creative background of the city we call home.

“Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels”

Starting at the Government Center Metrorail Station, we viewed a fountain by famous pop artist Claes Oldenberg of a broken bowl of oranges. This completely compliments Miami’s style, as it references the famous Orange Bowl football stadium, and Florida being the ‘orange state’. Although the positioning of the sculpture made it hard to see what it actually is, it is symbolic of Miami’s nature as this city and its downtown is not what it appears to be.

Miami River

As we continued down to the Miami River, we encountered Miss Lucia Meneses and she was kind enough to let us into the slave residencies of the last remaining building of Fort Dallas, a former plantation of Miami. Although the structure was altered with new wood beams and a concrete floor, the conditions of this house were unlivable. Even with adaptations over the years of being Miami’s first courthouse, to becoming the meeting area for the Daughters of the American Revolution, to stand where people of history stood before us was amazingly impactful, and extremely depressing.

Flagler’s Impact

Even after all these years, it’s amazing how Flagler’s railroads affected and created the city of Miami today. The search for citrus pushed the building of the railroad all the way down to the Florida Keys, and formed the need for a new city. However, the sad truth is a backstory of the racism occurring at this time as the slaves working we’re allowed to vote in support for a new city, but immediately after we’re segregated to the conditions of the previously mentioned Fort Dallas’s slave residencies.

Viscaya Styles

The mix of different artistic styles in the Vizcaya Villa is described perfectly by Professor John William Bailly; it makes no sense. From the outside of the villa, it has a very European style architecture, but the adventure begins when you enter the house. The statue of Dionysus and The Dancing Faun show that this residency is one of earthly pleasures and escape. The next room to the left then tells a different story of neoclassical art where the expressionless art gives a sense of intelligence, and the subliminal sense of structure give the space a uniformity and sense of harmony. However entering the next room is one of baroque and extremely emotional art, reflecting the Sun King’s palace of Versailles. The topic of cultural appropriation of art was frequent such as the Catholic painting of the Virgin Mary being used to cover up organ pipes, and Islamic art being used to describe the Catholic god. 

The mix of art in Viscaya making no sense, to the contradictory nature of the creation of the city, are perfect representations of Miami and the mix of cultures that make no sense, but still collaborate and work together to create the historically problematic, yet extremely impactful city of Miami.

DEERING AS TEXT

On the excursion of the Deering Estate, we encountered many incredible feats of nature. Although we will return as a class later in the semester, my first encounter with the residence was truly spectacular. The grounds of the estate include the building itself, and the nature-filled hiking trails. On this excursion, we focused on only the hiking grounds, more specifically the Pine Rocklands, and the Tropical Hardwood Hammocks.

Getting Started

Before going out into the wilderness, we were met with the Director of the estate, Jennifer Tisthammer, and she described the history of the hiking grounds and the geology about some of the sites where we were going. As there are many poison ivy and poisonwood, especially in the Hammocks, it was highly recommended we wear clothing that covered our legs and arms as much as possible and to be cautious of what we touch with our fingertips. She informed us that the site, called Miami Rock Ridge, was formed over 120,000 years ago and had elevations up to 25 feet above sea level, which is fairly impressive for someone who has only experienced flatlands for most of their lives. She also warned us to be wary of any holes on the trail, as they are archeological sites.

Pine Rocklands

Heading into the ridge, we started off at the Pine Rocklands, which true to its name, had many pine trees and cones in the area. It was incredibly eye-opening to see an environment so unlike the rest of Miami’s tropical oasis, however, it still being able to thrive. As promised, there were many holes in the path which thankfully I did not fall in. Ms. Tisthammer informed us that most of these holes are archeological sites usually about 1 meter wide and 1 meter deep. Many animal and even human remains have been found in these archeological sites, such as one particular site that we visited where human remains were found in the corner of what may have been a living area. Seeing this was amazing and being able to stand where history happened is even more awesome.

Tropical Hardwood Hammock

The Hammocks was a completely different environment from the Rocklands, needless to say, it was incredible seeing how two completely different ecosystems coexist so perfectly. Subtle differences such as temperature, humidity, and even the smell of the air seemed so drastic. It was here where Ms. Tisthammer once again warned us to be extra wary of poisonous plants and told us for cautionary reasons, to push aside any plants with our arm or our wrist so as not to expose our skin to the poisonous plants. It was here where we learned that in many of the holes animal remains were found due to what is most likely a tar pit. In these traps, and animal is put in a ‘sticky situation’ where they can’t move, therefore their predator comes to hunt, and a similar effect happens to them, causing and affecting the lives of animals and the food chains.

Overall

This visit to the Deering Estate and its hiking grounds was truly awe-inspiring as we learned about the history, background, and geology of the grounds by not only discussing it but by experiencing it. The beautiful wilderness of this estate is truly captivating and I recommend visiting to anyone in Miami, whether you are a local or a tourist. I had such an amazing time, and I look forward to returning for our next excursion to Chicken Key.

CHICKENKEY AS TEXT

On this week’s excursion, we met at the Deering Estate once again and visited Chicken Key, a beautiful island filled with flora, fauna, and unfortunately lots and lots of trash. Our goal in coming out here was to pick up and return to the Deering Estate with as much trash as we could collect in the time we were there, and as much as we could fit in the class’s canoes. Before setting out, we began forming pairs of the more experienced with the less experienced. Although the majority of the class traveled, in canoes, I was one of the fortunate few to travel in a kayak. I prefer kayaks to canoes because the wind resists less, and I have more experience with kayaks. After some safety tips and a crash course on manoeuvering the boats, we set out to Chicken Key.

On the way to the key, I paired up with Annette to go to the island together. Of the two of us, I was more knowledgeable of kayaks, and so because of that I went in the back and controlled the steering, while she went in the front and paddled. After a fairly short amount of time, we made a lot of progress, and because kayaks are so much faster than canoes, we waited until the rest of the group got closer before continuing and reaching the island.

We arrived at the key and I was immediately at awe at the mangrove habitat of the island and the life that flourished there. However, my amazement quickly turned to disappointment as we went to work, picking up trash we could find. I found what looked like a large dish rack and filled it three times, completely horrified by what I saw: liquor bottles, shoes, glass, plastic bottles, bottle caps, children’s floaties and so much more. As we piled it onto the kayaks and canoes, we decided to take a break and explore. 

We found many horseshoe crab shells and many hermit crabs about the island, even finding a few raccoons who were curious about our lunch. We then went swimming where we encountered two wild lobsters in a plastic tube that Professor Bailly triumphantly held above the water. We returned to our mission once more before leaving the island, however, we still barely scratched the surface on the amount of pollution on that island. It truly saddens me to see such a beautiful environment become a trashcan for human civilization. As we left we picked up some last-minute Pikachu balloon trash and went on our way. 

On the way back, Annette and I got caught in the mangroves trying to pick up some trash and I came face to face with a wild iguana. As a marine biology major, I know a lot about these creatures as I have studied about them and how they are an invasive species in south Florida, and how they are also very dangerous. Thankfully, my partner Annette didn’t see it as in order to safely get out of the situation, I needed to be calm and collected. My voice level dropped into a whisper, and I swiftly got us out of the mangroves. I later told Annette who was thrilled she remained ignorant during the situation.

In returning to the Deering Estate, we loaded all the canoes on the vehicle and disposed properly of all the trash. It was definitely eye-opening to see where some of these everyday objects go. The accumulation of trash is a big problem, and soon the solution will be too far out of our reach. In order to preserve our natural habitats and appreciate the environment, we need to help it flourish and prevent waste and other pollutants from entering the beautiful area our flora and fauna call home.

WYNWOOD AS TEXT

Wynwood and its many art filled collections were the focus of this week’s many excursions. As we traveled to the Margulies Collection, and later the De La Cruz Collection, we discovered a part of Miami that’s largely underground and unnoticed by both tourists and locals. Miami’s thriving and contemporary art are hidden behind the unique graffiti of Wynwood and the high end stores of the Design District, however, we traveled to a brand new part and learned about the artists and their works as part of Miami, and learned that not all art serves as just a decoration.

Margulies Collection

This collection was spectacular and inspiring, as different themes of hunger and oppression were shown through the many works. We were lucky enough to be given a tour by the very collector himself, Mr. Margulies. One of my personal favorites in this collection was the room with many people, filled with hollow, stiffened cloth made to look like headless people. The symbolism of the artist is shown through the way that the cloth was molded, all the same, but the folding completely different. The headlessness of these figures was a symbolism for the people who felt their identity and humanity was stripped of them as their names became numbers. This is an example of unappealing art, because the color of the fabric was just a brown cloth, and overall, not aesthetically pleasing, however this piece is not meant for that, it is meant to make you observe and look beyond, for a purpose or a meaning.

Another very moving piece was a replica of “The Bread Line” by George Segal, the real one being in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. This shows the turmoil from a time of despair and disillusionment of the Great Depression, and the reality of people during this time period, and the emotions of the financial struggle. It shows how the lessons and events of history can be transported through time to show impact and emotion in something as simple as an art collection. This piece impacts multiple audiences globally, not unlike how the Great Depression impacted the entire world. The impact in this sculpture is truly meant to make you stop and think.

De La Cruz Collection

Felix Gonzales-Torres was one of the more impactful artists of this collection, and personally one of my favorites. His works mostly revolved around the idea and construct of time and how its many qualities are beyond culture and language barriers, and can relate to every human being. One of his works consisted of 31 paintings of charts set up similar to a calendar. The reason the collection shows to have it in this manner is due to the meaning behind the paintings, both literally and figuratively. Behind the canvas of each painting are photos, letters, and treasured items, but the meaning of the work is the end of Felix Gonzales-Torres in the month that he died, and the chart were the doctor’s report in his last days. The charts have been painted over with white as a way to ignore the truth, but once the paint dried, the charts would seep through the layer of white, and the reality would once again resurface.

Another work by Felix Gonzales-Torres were the lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling to the floor by the bare, electrical cords. Much like the calendar, the theme was also the universal construct of time, and the meaning behind this work was much easier to understand. Time for everyone is limited, just as the lightbulbs will eventually go out one by one. There are also 42 lightbulbs in total, which made me think of a possible allusion to a book titled “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” by Douglas Adams where the supercomputer says the answer to the meaning of life is 42, which although the two are most likely completely unrelated, personally finding meaning in a piece of art truly made the art not only more appealing to me, but gave the work a deeper meaning and a hidden mystery altogether.

Concluding

For such an under-appreciated part of Miami, I was truly impressed with the rich culture of modern and contemporary art that the city neglects to advertise. Miami is a culturally and historically rich city, however, the way we portray the city to tourists is a city that is filled with material wealth, high-class living, long-lasting parties, and lots of liquor. Although that does attract tourists, there should also be the display and appreciation of another part of Miami filled with moving art by incredible artists. We also, as a society, should stray away from this idea that art needs to be beautiful in order to be appreciated. Not all art serves to decorate or please, but instead is supposed to make you think, feel, and question the world you live in.

HISTORYMIAMI AS TEXT

The tour of the HistoryMiami Museum was unlike any other tour of the semester. Instead of trying to cover up history, our tour guide Maria faced it head on, talking about members of history such as the hispanic slave Francisco Menendez who was so important and crucial to the colonization of Spanish Florida as Captain of Fort Mose, yet was still denied by the Spanish Crown his freedom. Despite his importance, Menendez and other slaves of Florida’s past have a very small role in this museum, only having a small corner of the exhibit, which shows the prejudice still very much alive during the time that this museum was built in the 70s. It is also reflected by the built-in exhibition of important African-American figures next to the bathrooms. The staff at this museum is fully aware of this problem and does nothing to hide its racist past, in fact, they understand it and work to improve it with their rotating exhibitions. 

In the Gesu Church, many representations of Christ and the Virgin Mary are varied in order to attract many audiences. Due to one of the reasons of American colonialism was God, and spreading christian beliefs. In order to appeal to the indigenous people of the land, there were many depictions of the Virgin Mary as a mexican woman with dark hair and dark eyes, and even a dark, tanned Jesus on the cross. There was even a depiction of Mary and her child as Africans, which served as not only a way to attract more people to the church, but also a way for slaves to continue working without complaints or resistance because it was ‘God’s work’. 

Although we criticize America’s past, there are still aspects that show the freedom we aspire to have as a nation. Walking through the streets of Downtown Miami, we saw a building by the Muslim architect Zaha Hadid, a condo that had a beautiful design of the movement of pillars in the building. We also saw the Freedom Tower, a building based on the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. This mix of architectural styles with a Roman base, a Muslim build, and a Renaissance bell tower shows the mix of styles that is Miami, and the aspiration to be a land of freedom for the Cubans fleeing the clutches of Fidel Castro. This shows that despite its history being imperfect and very problematic, this country continues to strive to be the land of the free.

MIAMI ART AS TEXT

In going to Art Basel, I saw a piece of artwork that really caught my eye. This piece called “Red Spaceship” by artist Karla Knight in the Andrew Edlin Gallery made me think about what exactly this was meant to be. At first glance it looked like a piece of technology equipment known as a ‘raspberry pie’, however when looking closer, I noticed the sides with the circles increasing in size, which was similar to something of planets. This piece was meant to be a reflection on the possible future for humanity, however, the symbols on the border and within the piece made me think of a potential hidden message which intrigued me even more. The interpretation of a painting or work of art is important, but finding the hidden messages always adds more to the experience and gives truly makes the work linger in the mind. I hope to decipher the symbols and code within this, if there is a solution.

On the other hand, the Art Miami fair had these works of the ‘Black Series’ by Alejandro Monje caught my eye because I disliked them. The series within the 3 Punts Galleria consists of 4 works: “Disney”, “Welcome”, “The Sun Is Overrated”, and “Art Is Not A Kid’s Game”. These four works together created a very dark image and mentality about the world of today, depicting how in today’s world, we must abandon childish thoughts such as Disney, carnivals, and ideas like how daytime is playtime in order to be accepted into ‘the real world’. Although I dislike this message, I understand why it’s so prevalent in our society, because there is pressure, that I personally feel, to abandon things that are considered childish because it makes me less of an adult. I believe that a person’s maturity should be based on their decisions and actions rather than their likes and dislikes. But the wonderful thing about art, is the fact that it doesn’t matter what my opinion is. The opinion of the individual is irrelevant because what makes the art is the impact it has on the mind, and it’s ability to make you think, which makes Alejandro Monje’s series good art.