Who Art Miami 2020: Diana Espin by Ingrid Rocha

Artist Quote

“I always plan and imagine my photos prior to taking them; however, once I go to do my work nature decides to provide something totally different. Even if you plan and visualize your photos, it’ll never go the way you thought it would. You must welcome and appreciate outside forces that alter the finished product. Adaptability is essential in photography.”

Diana Espín

Student Biography

Hello, my name is Ingrid Rocha and I am a pre-med student at Florida International University. My majors are in both Biological Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, and my minors are in Portuguese and Chemistry. I am pursuing these degrees in order to prepare for the difficult road to medical school. I am unsure of which area of study I will choose once I become a doctor, however I am interested in surgical specialties. Although I was born in Miami I moved away as a young child and did not get to grow up enjoying the many sights Miami has to offer. As a result, I decided to immerse myself in the culture by partaking in the Art Society Conflict class with the hope of broadening my horizons and becoming a more well-rounded individual.

Who is Diana Espin?

Portrait of Diana Espín by Roberto Mata at the Bakehouse Art Complex

Diana Espín Fernandez was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. The majority of her family is originally from Spain; thus, she has a strong Spanish background. Espín comes from a family passionate about photography which is undoubtedly why she took interest in the subject matter. Interestingly enough, Espín did not originally pursue photography as a career. She obtained an undergraduate degree majoring in finance and business administration in Venezuela.


Hollywood Beach by Diana Espín

It should be noted that in Venezuela, like many south American countries, the education system is quite different. Immediately after graduating high school you go straight into a defined career, contrary to the United States’ system in which many individuals choose to get a master’s degree. As such, Diana Espín immigrated to the United States and obtained a master’s degree from New York University (NYU) is business administration (MBA) ten years ago. This was around the time in which she started to become more passionate about photography. Photography by Diana Espín

When applying to NYU Espín was given the freedom to submit a piece of her choice. She stated that “when [she] applied for the MBA [she] did a little photographic essay with values and crazy stuff.” This indicates the official start of her interest in photography. She “started doing photography as a hobby on the side while [she] was working on [her] master’s degree” in order to manage the heavy workload and stress. “During every class event that was happening at the university [Espín] was carrying the camera around: photographing, donating pictures to the university, and practicing portraits.”

Brickell Gótica Corrected by Diana Espín

Diana Espín, after graduating from NYU, originally moved to Miami, then Boston, then finally back to Miami once more. Her decision to remain in Miami was primarily due to a large portion of her family living here. Espín stated that she “absolutely hated” her time in Boston, that it was a “very bad time” in her life. She had even stopped doing photography while she was there, so needless to say it was a very difficult and trying time for her. Once in Miami she “worked as a general consultant for a few years until [she] finally got [her] green card and quit! [She] was done with that type of work.” Espín decided it was finally time for her to focus on her true passion, photography. She had become quite enraptured with Miami’s environment. Espín is especially passionate about using natural light in her photos, a practice that became commonplace once moving to Miami. Relocating to Miami began a growth period for her because she was at the liberty to test out many different techniques. She chased wild storms simply to try and play with how the clouds would look in her photos.

Key Figures

Diana Espín has had a wide range of impactful people in her life. One of them is father who gave her the first camera she’s ever had. Another key figure in her life is Pedro, her partner. They met three and a half years ago when she first returned to Miami from Boston and decided to take a photography class. She had realized that she was “stuck” in her photography work and wanted to learn more techniques. Her primary concerns were how to use artificial light and if her photography made sense to her audience, whether or not she was getting her point across.
Photography by Diana Espín

The photography class she decided to take was in the Bakehouse Art Complex. Espín called it a “boutique school” because it is so small. “It was a very important photography school back in Venezuela where Pedro used to teach twelve years ago, he was from the film times. This school was big there, it was there that you went to start photography in Venezuela.” Upon finding out about the classes being offered at this “boutique school” at Bakehouse she took about three classes before a class about lighting was offered. The class was taught by her now-partner Pedro, whom she calls an artificial lighting genius. Espín believes that he is a very impactful influence on her photography because he has taught her so many different techniques which have become central in her photography pieces.

Padres by Diana Espín

These classes at the Bakehouse Art Complex became quite impactful for Espín. The school is very documentary-photojournalism style which was a new experience for her. Espín “loved it, all the assignments and homework gave [her] answers to a lot of work [she] struggled with in the past.” It also showed her that she “had a lot of rules” she had created and that it was okay to break out of the mold she had made herself. She also made sure to note the photographers who are most influential to her, Ansel Adams and Tim Flach. Tim Flach is especially influential on Espín because she has done projects photographing animals. Similarly, Tim Flach is a portrait artist who works with endangered species, dogs, and other animals.

Personal Identity

Fishing in the dirt by Diana Espín

When Diana Espín was about fifteen years old her father gave her her very first camera, “a little Olympus with a roll of film.” He gave her this camera because she was going to Canada during the summer to take an English course. Although this was the first camera Espín owned, it was hardly what inspired her to become a photographer. During her first trimester at NYU Espín traveled back home to Caracas, Venezuela. During this trip she became aware of just how central photography was in her life. Her father, as well as grandfather, both enjoyed photography and were always documenting their lives through their cameras. She “noticed how much they were influencing [her] because they were documenting all of [their] trips.” During her last trip back home in 2007 Espín came across a box filled with “cameras, lenses, you name it.” Because her father was no longer using these cameras, she took all the equipment. Luckily enough, Espín had a friend, a professional photographer, who was also in Venezuela at the time. This friend was kind enough to teach Espín her first steps on how to photograph. She is now working on a project in which she is trying to recover all the photographs from her father’s cameras that she took during her last trip back home in Venezuela.   

Cultural Identity

Caminos by Diana Espín

Photography, for Diana Espín, is about traveling. “It was about bringing back, not the boring typical world, but getting lost in the wild.” Espín’s grandmother was always an advocate for her to go on these “crazy” adventures. She was always supportive and always told her “you should go!” Espín has a thirst to find and go to places that people do not usually travel to. She has gone to Alaska twice, and plans on going once more. While she worked on her MBA Espín also went on trips to the Amazon, India, Argentina, and Africa.  She loves working with landscapes which is why she travels to so many different places. She loves to go into wild areas and seek out different landscapes that people usually do not get the chance to see. This influence comes from her background in Venezuela which has so many beautiful landscapes that many people are unaware of.

Despite Venezuela being the root of her photographic identity, she has not been back to Venezuela in years. She states that this is because she wants to “open her mind, culture-wise.” She is aware that these beautiful locations are not only in her little piece of Venezuela, they are scattered all over the world. Essentially, Espín is heavily influenced by her sense of adventure, her yearning to travel to virtually unknown locations. Venezuela is where her art first started; however, she has grown beyond her home country and is influenced by wonders across the globe.
Photography by Diana Espín

Espín actively tries to avoid getting too “hooked to a moment that makes it hard to see outside your own borders.” Essentially, Espín is actively trying to broaden her horizons beyond her home country to avoid getting stuck in one location, which would be contrary to her sense of adventure.

Art lately is so varied that it is important to keep evolving as society does. People nowadays have been more focused on traveling, seeing the world, and experiencing new things compared to the older generation that was more focused on their livelihoods. It is an essential part of every artist’s career to grow and bring new influences into their work. This is done by broadening your horizons, expanding your knowledge and experiences. This allows the artist to bring more representation and personality to their pieces, making the art come alive with a background in culture. For Diana Espín in particular, this is done through traveling.

Subject of Artwork

Atardecer con Rainier by Diana Espín at Mirror Lake, Mt Rainier National Park, WA

Diana Espín is a photographer, so naturally she uses a digital camera for most of her work; however, lately she has been experimenting with film. Scanners and a computer are also important tools in photography. Another tool some photographers use is the computer editorial program Adobe Photoshop. Espín does not usually work with Photoshop, but she is currently taking a class on it which may allow her to begin using it on her photos in the future. The most important tool to Espín, besides her camera, is her large eleven-color plotter which she uses to print her photos. For Espín it is essential to have a printer because she likes to have her photos physically, to get them out of the cameras and computers and be able to appreciate them in their physical form. A plotter is especially important for Espín because she creates panoramic photographs. On the computer these photos are all taken individually, so in order to truly appreciate the photos they must be printed altogether, side-by-side, creating the panorama. When printing she considers how the photos will look on the wall. This involves considering whether or not the photos should be printed on a shiny, glossy, or matte finish paper, as well as what frame would best compliment the photo in question.

The root of why Diana Espín decided to become a landscape photographer originates in her visit to South America, the Amazon in particular. She was deeply moved by the landscapes she saw during her travels, however, at the time she was still just beginning her experience in professional photography. Upon returning home she adopted the idea that she would become proficient at photography and then return to capture images of the Amazon in its true glory.
Photography by Diana Espín

Espín’s work revolves around this story because everywhere she travels, she takes photo in order to share unknown locations with others. Her prime reason for becoming a landscape photographer was to expand horizons and go to “crazy” places. It should be noted that another reason that Espín takes photography is to advocate for different causes. One of these causes is to promote adoption of shelter animals.

Diana Espín is particularly successful in representing her subject matter. Her landscape photography gives people a view of the world beyond their everyday lives, inspiring people to travel more. Society has adopted the notion of expanding their knowledge beyond their jobs and it is providing the world with a more well-rounded and knowledgeable future generation.  In the case of the shelter animals, it can easily be claimed that her work is just as successful. Society nowadays is much more likely to adopt animals than they were just a few years ago. Espín believes that a good photograph that shows the dog’s true personality goes a long way in providing for these friendly animals a chance of finding a new home.

Formal Elements

The Wall by Diana Espín at The Capitan’s Wall, Yosemite National Park, CA

Diana Espín uses the formal elements, light, lines, texture, and color in order of decreasing priority. The formal element she uses the most is light. She is very passionate “about natural light and hunting the moment the light is going to be amazing.” Although she does use artificial light as well, Espín much prefers using natural light and sunlight for her photography. The second formal element Espín considers when creating her photos is lines. She is “always hunting lines, nonstop.” She uses them because, being a landscape photographer, lines are everywhere. Horizons, trees, mountains, these all incorporate lines which are naturally found everywhere in nature and our daily lives. She also uses a lot of edges in her photos, something both she and her partner Pedro are both passionate about. Espín contends that the use of lines, specifically edges, can totally transform the perspective of a photograph.

Deshielo by Diana Espín at Denali National Park, AK

The third formal element Espín uses is texture. In her landscape work Espín likes to find elements, such as mountains, clouds, and trees that “have a lot going on.” For example, during her trips to Alaska she was thrilled with the textures found in glacier ice and sand-water because of how out of the ordinary these natural textures were. The formal element color is also very important to Espín. Although she enjoys black-and-white photography, all of her work is done primarily in color. If need be, she will then edit her photograph and change it to black-and-white. Espín does so if she believes there is too much information happening within the photograph, be it due to lines or texture, and that a black-and-white photo is better suited. She also changes the coloring depending on what she is trying to convey to her audience through the photograph.

Exhibition and Project History

Photography by Diana Espín

Diana Espín currently has an exhibition on display on the walls of the Bakehouse Art Complex called The space in between. This exhibition features works by Rosie Marie Cromwell, Diana Espín, Mateo Serna Zapata, and Clara Toro. “The space in between features the work of four photographers, in residence at Bakehouse, who explore the production of images through stories allied with  geography: an abandoned house down Route 66, a vast mountain of fresh snow in Alaska, the abstracted curve of the dancer’s body, and the rubble of a dilapidated building in La Habana…” (On View).

Photography by Diana Espín

Diana Espín also has public art displayed at VCA Animal Hospitals. “The objective of this work was to promote adoption and to prove that any rescue can be a beautiful pet.” She purposefully put these photos in places that people pay for dogs, such as vet offices, to represent and advocate for adoption. Another exhibition she has is in Brickell, Miami to promote her work. She does this in order to gain clients that want their pets’ photos taken. This helps fund the volunteer work that Espín does, such as the work done for shelter animals. She stated that this project was done simply to convey that these animals are just as good as those people buy. The photos taken by the shelter do nothing to display the dog’s personality, they just show scared animals in cages. That is why Espín took her time calming the dogs down, then trying to compose a good photograph.

Although this work was very meaningful to her, it was also emotionally tolling. Espín would spend days working with the dogs to get a good photograph only to be told a week later that they had been euthanized. It is a heartbreaking situation, and as a result she no longer volunteers there. Despite this, she has started working on another project. This year there will be elections and Miami-Dade once again has the chance to flip the law that bans pitbulls, a law that has been active since 1989.
Photography by Diana Espín.

Another project of great importance to Diana Espín involves Goodwill South Florida. Goodwill is known for selling clothing and other items at greatly reduced prices; however, they have another mission that is not quite as well-known. They provide jobs for a variety of special-needs people, such as individuals with Down syndrome or the visually impaired. Their mission is to train them and prepare them for work by either hiring them or helping them find a job. Goodwill has a factory in Allapattah, Miami where they manufacture American flags and army uniforms. Everyone who works at this factory is special needs. Espín stated that “it is a beautiful company, very Latin. They over-protect their employees” and have many celebrations, such as Mother’s Day parties. One project Espín did was in partnership with a documentary-style photographer to create a calendar for Goodwill. For the last three years Diana Espín and her partner Pedro have been working for Goodwill South Florida to take portraits of their achievers of the year. Every year a female and a male individual are picked for a variety of reasons, such as fifteen years of employment at the factory. This project is important to Espín because it brings attention to the virtuous work Goodwill is doing by employing individuals with special needs, a practice that should be made commonplace across America.

Student Perspective

the longest sunset by Diana Espín at Around Denali National Park, AK

My experience working with Diana Espín was extremely rewarding. I can easily say that Espín is now a role model for me. Her work advocating for special needs employment and homes for shelter animals are two social issues I hold close to my heart. The fact that she uses her skill in photography to try and combat these issues is quite impactful. I especially hope to see the completed project which advocates for Miami to lift the pitbull ban. I find it heartbreaking that these animals are denied a place in shelters, and usually euthanized, simply because of a predisposed notion that they are not friendly.

I have also learned from Diana Espín that, no matter your age, you may become a photographer. I was under the impression that you had to be carrying a camera from the age of three to become a successful photographer, but she has shown me otherwise. Her work is impactful and meaningful despite the fact that photography was not her original career path. I have learned that it’s okay to stray from the route that you created and enjoy life. After getting to know Diana Espín I now feel confident that I can pursue a hobby I have always been interested in, that being photography.

Works Cited

Espín Fernandez, Diana. “ESPIN.” Diana Espin, http://www.dianaespin.com/.

“On View.” BAC, http://www.bacfl.org/on-view.

*All information was obtained from an interview conducted with Diana Espín.
*All photography belongs to Diana Espín with the exclusion of the photo under “Student Biography” and “Who is Diana Espín”.
Photography was obtained from the references above or courtesy of Diana Espín.

ASC Spring 2020 Service Project: Ingrid Rocha

Phagocytosis Assay by Rebecca Peters

Hello, my name is Ingrid Rocha and I am a pre-med student at Florida International University. My majors are in both Biological Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, and my minors are in Portuguese and Chemistry. I am pursuing these degrees in order to prepare for the difficult road to medical school. 

The Lab

As a student pursuing a career in medicine, it is very important that I become knowledgeable about important subjects such as biology and chemistry, but it is essential that I get hands-on experience as well. I am accomplishing this by working as a volunteer assistant in Dr. Mario Stevenson’s infectious disease research lab in conjunction with the University of Miami Medical School.

Dr. Stevenson is the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Institute of AIDS and Emerging Infectious Diseases. There are many diseases being studied in the lab, however the most prominent subject is HIV and AIDS.

Common Responsibilities

Within the lab, I work with Rebecca Peters, a graduate student, who is currently focusing on researching the latency time of HIV cells in various treatments. The purpose of such research is to find an effective cure for the disease. It is important to study the latency of HIV because research in the subject can lead to an indication on how to curb viral activity, essentially stopping the spread of disease.

Plate with cell treatments

Latency is the state in which the virus in question is not reproducing meaning no more viral cells are being produced. I applied to volunteer in Dr. Stevenson’s lab specifically due to the interest I have in research, as well as infectious diseases. Going into the medical field I believe it is essential to have an understanding of how medicine, treatments, and other procedures were created; that is, through research.

Some of the common activities that are done in the lab include creating new infections, feeding the cells, and conducting various tests and examinations on the cells. These examinations are done in order to determine how different treatments will cause the cells to react. Will they cause the HIV cells to live longer than expected? Will the HIV cells die in certain treatments? Will the cells multiply? These are all questions that must be answered in order for further research to be conducted and to develop a cure. In the first photo pictured above is a phagocytosis assay of one of the various tests conducted. The blue colors are the cell’s nuclei and the red indicate a successful phagocytosis took place. Phagocytosis is the process in which a phagocyte ingests bacteria or other materials. The third picture is a plate full of various cell treatments. Each tube holds live cells that are to be studied over a period of five to eight weeks.


It is important to note that this is an ongoing project that I am going to continue to participate in. This experience has opened my eyes to how rigorous and extensive the process is to introduce and develop new medical treatments to the public. It seems simple once the treatment is finally made public, however the process behind it is quite complex. This experience has thus developed in me a greater sense of respect towards scientists who dedicate their time to finding ways to improve the lives of many. By working in the lab, I have been exposed to techniques I never would have known existed. This experience has also caused me to consider doing a MD/PhD program in medical school. It is a big decision to make, however my interest in research continues to grow. My only regret in this whole experience is that, due to my busy school schedule, I am unable to spend more time in the lab. I spend my Friday’s in the lab and have recently gotten approval to go on Monday’s as well. This will enable me to learn even more about the subject matter and hopefully bring us ever closer to finding a cure for a disease that affects so many. 

Alexandria Meinecke
Sr. Administrative Assistant to Dr. Mario Stevenson, PhD
Professor of Medicine and Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Life Science Technology Park 
1951 NW 7th Avenue, Room 2331A 
Miami, FL 33136
(O) 305- 243-1988
(F) 305-243-8799

*A total of over 10 service hours were completed at the institution discussed above, however this is an ongoing assignment. For further inquiry contact information is provided above.



ASC Fall 2019 Service Project: Ingrid Rocha

The Deering Estate in Miami, FL
The Deering Estate

The first service project I partook in was at the Deering Estate in Miami, Florida. The Deering Estate was built by Charles Deering and contains two houses on the 444 acres of land. There are also two Tequesta Indian burial mounds and a burial site belonging to Paleo-Indians. There is about 10 thousand years of continuous human inhabitation on the Deering Estate’s land that not nearly enough people are familiar with. Charles Deering himself was a Chicago industrialist who purchased the Deering Estate land in 1913. The Deering family gained their fortune through the Deering Harvester Company which manufactured agricultural machinery.

The event in which I participated in was during Mercury’s transit across the sun. During the event the job I was given was to act as a security guard in the Stone House. This was the second home that Charles Deering built in order to house his vast collection of tapestries, paintings, books, and antique furnishings. The task of security involved simply asking visitors not to touch any artwork or furniture within the house. This act of service was extremely important to me because I had never actually had such a close encounter with such a pivotal part of Miami’s history. It was a precious experience to be a guard to such vital pieces of South Florida’s history, as well as volunteering for an institution so central in the education of many people who live in Florida as well as tourists.

The Deering Estate offers education on art, why it is important, and on conservation of the environment. I am very conscious about how I affect the environment and volunteering for an institution that cares about the earth as much as I do felt like I was truly making a difference. Furthermore, not only does the Deering Estate inform the public on Mercury’s transit, but they also provide a safe means of witnessing the event without causing any damage to the eyes by using the correct equipment. Mercury’s transit across the sun is a phenomenon that is rarely seen and the fact that the Deering Estate facilitates this experience is great because it can be an inspiration to many to pursue careers in the arts or sciences.

Vanessa Trujillo, PhD  
Conservation & Research Specialist
Deering Estate
305-235-1668 ext. 241
Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces

The Rubell Museum in Miami, FL
The Rubell Museum

The second service project I partook in was at the new Rubell Museum location in Miami, Florida. The Rubell Family Collection is a private contemporary art collection founded in 1964 by Mera and Don Rubell in New York City. The collection holds artwork belonging to a variety of renowned artists including, but not limited to, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, and Cindy Sherman. The Rubell Family Collection also established an internship program that encompasses an artwork loan program that facilitates exhibitions in museums around the world. The Rubell Family Collection is also engaged in a partnership with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system. This program allows thousands of students to enrich themselves each year by visiting and engaging with the Rubell Museum, it’s many exhibitions, and vast public research library.

The Rubell Museum is working on setting up its brand-new location in the Allapattah neighborhood of Miami. The new location is eagerly awaited and will be opening on December 3, 2019. The task I was given involved helping set up the new research library at the Rubell Museum’s new location prior to the grand opening on December 3rd. The importance of this library is that it allows anyone who visits to do research on any artist or piece of artwork within the museum. This is essentially a location in which those interested in learning may immerse themselves in their subject matter.

This service project was important to me because it allowed me to be a part of education, something I place a lot of value in being a student myself. The fact that I was setting up a library, a place that anyone and everyone can learn in, was truly close to my heart. I myself learned a lot while I worked at carefully organizing and placing the variety of books onto the shelves. I have always felt comforted and safe in libraries so the fact that I was helping construct one felt like I was truly making a difference in other students’ lives. I was also ecstatic to see the Rubell Museum’s new location prior to its grand opening. The small preview I was given of the new location was enough to exemplify the magnificence of the Rubell Museum. I feel as if I have truly benefitted from volunteering at the Rubell Museum and I highly recommend that, given the chance, everyone should pay the foundation a visit.

Laura Randall
Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation
95 NW 29th Street
Miami, FL 33127
(305) 573-6090

*A total of 10 service hours were completed between the two institutions discussed above, The Deering Estate and The Rubell Museum. For further inquiry contact information is provided for each institution.



See Miami 2019: The Wolfsonian by Ingrid Rocha

Student Biography

Hello, my name is Ingrid Rocha and I am a pre-med student at Florida International University. My majors are in both Biological Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, and my minors are in Portuguese and Chemistry. I am pursuing these degrees in order to prepare for the difficult road to medical school. I am unsure of which area of study I will choose once I become a doctor, however I am interested in surgical specialties. Although I was born in Miami I moved away as a young child and did not get to grow up enjoying the many sights Miami has to offer. As a result, I decided to immerse myself in the culture by partaking in the Art Society Conflict class with the hope of broadening my horizons and becoming a more well-rounded individual.


Photography by Lynton Gardiner

The Wolfsonian is located right in the heart of South Beach’s Art Deco District at the corner of 10th Street and Washington Avenue. The Wolfsonian’s address is 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139. There are city garages conveniently located between Washington and Pennsylvania Avenues on 12th Street, on Collins Avenue at 7th and 13th Streets, and on Drexel Avenue at 12th Street. There is also an open lot across the street on Washington Avenue on 10th Street next to the Washington Park Hotel, as well as metered street parking along the entirety of Washington Avenue. It should also be noted that parking is allowed in the nearby residential zones from 7am to 6pm on non-holiday weekdays.

As a result of The Wolfsonian’s many parking options the museum is easily accessible to both tourists and residents of South Florida alike. Before or after a day of strolling on South Beach people may be interested in visiting The Wolfsonian as it is a great destination for anyone interested in the arts or the history of Miami itself. Furthermore, it is hard to miss The Wolfsonian as it sits right on the corner of 10th street and Washington avenue. As a result, The Wolfsonian’s impressive architecture stands out from the typical South Beach buildings and does a splendid job of attracting curious visitors. Most prominently, however, is the fact that The Wolfsonian in located in Miami and that it holds a great deal of art pieces that play an important role in the recitation of Miami’s history.


Collection of Miami Beach Architecture
Martin L. Hampton, Henry Hohauser, Lawrence Murray Dixon, Robert Swartburg, Florida Each Coast Railway

The Wolfsonian, originally a Mediterranean revival building, was built in 1927 by Robertson and Patterson in order to hold the Washington Storage Company. The building was later enlarged and remodeled in 1992 into the museum that it is today by architect Mark Hampton. Fascinated by the role that architecture and design take on shaping the human experience Mitchell “Micky” Wolfson, Jr. established The Wolfsonian in 1986. Wolfson was an author, philanthropist, and former diplomat who had invested in a vast collection of objects in which The Wolfsonian, the Mediterranean revival building at the time, would serve to document and preserve within its walls. From about 1986 to 1993 staff members were primarily tasked with unpacking and cataloging the collection.

The Wolfsonian now houses an auditorium, The Dynamo Museum Shop and Café, administrative offices, a library, storage of small objects and paintings, and three exhibition galleries. All remaining objects are housed in a historic warehouse in Miami Beach known as the Annex. Wolfson founded The Wolfsonian with the intention of paying tribute to his international upbringing and varied taste for collecting artwork. It may be noted that Wolfson is also the founder of The Wolfsoniana, The Wolfsonian’s sister museum located in Genoa, Italy.

The Wolfsonian focuses it’s exhibitions on the monumental era of progressivism between the years 1850 and 1950. The Wolfsonian’s exhibitions depict the journey from early colonialism to urban living, in which important events such as the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, the Cold War, and the invention of technology is expressed in the form of rich artwork and a variety of objects. Furthermore, The Wolfsonian holds a rich collection of more than 200,000 pieces that contain objects such as household appliances, industrial era technology, and architectural plans that were all monumental in the formation of today’s society. The Wolfsonian’s core focus is on material originating from both Europe and the United States, however there are select pieces whose origin can be traced to Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The Wolfsonian has been a proud part of Miami since 1995, however in 1997 it became a part of Florida International University following Wolfson’s donation of his collection and historic building to the state of Florida. The Wolfsonian is now known as one of the most enriching, monumental, and educational American university art collections. As a result, the Wolfsonian is able to profoundly impact the lives of thousands of students, educators, art and design lovers, and tourists each year.


The Wolfsonian’s mission statement is as follows:

Window Grille by William Harold Lee & Armand Carroll

“The Wolfsonian–FIU uses objects to illustrate the persuasive power of art and design, to explore what it means to be modern, and to tell the story of social, political, and technological changes that have transformed our world. It encourages people to see the world in new ways, and to learn from the past as they shape the present and influence the future.”

The Wolfsonian’s mission is essentially to inform visitors of their roots in a multidisciplinary manner. As the mission statement reads, in order to learn from the past, the past must first be understood. By understanding the past groundbreaking conclusions can be made about the present that allow for new opinions that can aid in society’s advancement. The exhibitions on social, political, and technological innovations give perspective of how far society progressed in order to reach the modern age we live in. In this way The Wolfsonian encourages the next generation by giving them the knowledge and tools that they may need to excel and make wise decisions as they rise into positions of power. The Wolfsonian promotes its mission statement through exhibitions, publications, educational programs, and individual scholarship opportunities.


The Completed Buildings of Schultze and Weaver by Lloyd Morgan

The Wolfsonian promotes accessibility by making the fee for entering the museum on Friday’s from 6pm to 9pm free. Additionally, during the entirety of Miami Art Week 2019 admission to The Wolfsonian is free. Any student, staff, or faculty of the State University System of Florida, as well as members and children under 6 years old, enter free. There are free tours of The Wolfsonian every Friday at 6pm.

The Wolfsonian encourages all members of the Florida International University community to utilize its resources and promotes the use of its collection for research projects. Additionally, The Wolfsonian provides internship opportunities and collaboration on exhibitions, publications, and programs. To FIU faculty The Wolfsonian extends an offer to provide teaching support and encourage any opportunity for faculty research.

Those part of the members program at The Wolfsonian receive a year of unlimited free admission, invitations to VIP preview parties, invitations to members-only tours and special events, a 10% discount at The Wolfsonian Design Store and Coffee Bar, five complimentary guest passes, access to the SEMC reciprocal membership program, and priority access to public programming. There are eight membership levels ranging from $50 to $5,000. The levels are Popular ($50), Dual/Family ($75), Propagandist ($125), Diplomat ($250), Ally ($500), Patriot ($1,000), Futurist ($2,500), and Loyalist ($5,000).

Also offered by The Wolfsonian is the opportunity to become a Corporate Ally. All Corporate Allies receive a year of a 10% discount at The Wolfsonian Design Store and Coffee Bar, advanced notification of a range of public programs and private events, a $50 employee rate for Dual/Family memberships, corporate name recognition on public signage in lobby and in triannual newsletter, a private guided tour of The Wolfsonian, and five copies of The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts. There are three Corporate Ally levels ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. The levels are Comrade ($5,000), Attaché ($15,000), and Protagonist ($25,000).

The Wolfsonian’s Regular Hours of Operation and Admission
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday | 10am–6pm
Wednesday | closed
Friday | 10am–9pm (free 6–9pm)
Sunday | noon–6pm
The library’s reading room is open by appointment only:
Monday–Friday | 9am–5pm
Saturday | 11am–5:30pm
Members: FREE
Adults: $12
Seniors, students with ID, and children 6–18: $8
Children under 6: FREE
Students, faculty, and staff of the State University System of Florida: FREE


Deco: Luxury to Mass Market

This ongoing collection is focused on “Art Deco.” Art Deco is known as the styles that emerged in the 1920’s and 1930’s from the pursuit of merging the worlds of art and industry into a singular entity of modernized design. Art Deco is not limited to artwork, the collection at The Wolfsonian encompasses a variety of art from handcrafted objects to common household appliances.

The Wolfsonian puts on display a visual of the migration of Art Deco from Europe to the United States, as well as its evolution along the way. The Wolfsonian’s aspirations for its Deco collection exemplify the process over time of American designers combining style of European luxury with the demand for an industrial level of production.

The poster pictured above is by designer Weimer Pursell and Neely Printing Co. called “Chicago World’s Fair. A century of Progress.” This poster perfectly exemplifies the Art Deco ideals of combining luxury and industry through the illustration of luxurious, yet practical, architecture. The 1933 Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago greatly impacted Florida. The Florida Tropical House was central in pioneering a sleek modernist design that dramatically clashed against the traditional Mediterranean revival architecture that was so popular.

A Universe of Things: Micky Wolfson Collects

For over three decades Miami Beach has been bearer to a massive collection of stained-glass windows, paintings, books, prints, vases, and furniture. This collection belongs to non-other than Mitchell “Micky” Wolfson, Jr., who sends his growing collection back to Miami from his travels in order to be compiled, researched, preserved, studied, and either exhibited or published. The collection A Universe of Things: Micky Wolfson Collects studies the life of Wolfson through the articles and objects he collects, a force that encompasses a variety of time periods and cultures.

Art and Design in the Modern Age: Selections from the Wolfsonian Collection
Graf Zeppelin by Hugo Eckener

The Wolfsonian has a large variety of artifacts that range from the years 1850 to 1950 which is all compiled into one collective overview in the Art and Design in the Modern Age collection. The exhibition was inaugurated in November 1995 and is periodically updated with art in a multitude of formats including books, posters, postcards, decorative art, architectural models, paintings, and sculptures. This collection focuses specifically on design-reform movements, urbanism, industrial design, transportation, world’s fairs, advertising, and political propaganda. Notably, this collection studies over time how art and design influence the modern world.

The model pictured above is based on the original Graf Zeppelin designed by Hugo Eckener in Germany. This model thoroughly depicts what the Art and Design in the Modern Age collection strove to exemplify through its exhibition in which the zeppelin depicts both industrialization and transportation in one. Attempts at flight were made in the 1890’s, however the dream of motorized flight was not realized until the beginning of the new century.

(LO & BEHOLD) (MIRA & VE): An installation by Lawrence Weiner

This ongoing installation is part of a larger installation for Art Basel Miami Beach 2006 by Lawrence Weiner, however Mira & Ve has become a permanent part of The Wolfsonian’s central lobby fountain. Much of Weiner’s artwork uses language and symbols in order to convey his exploration of the interaction between elements such as shape, color, and punctuation. Weiner’s prosperous career originates in the early 1960s when he became a founding member of the Conceptual Art movement. He enjoys challenging traditional notions, as well as taking on difficult concepts such as the complexity of simplicity. Weiner expertly recognized Miami’s rich and diverse culture and combined both English and Spanish in his artwork to illicit a profound effect from onlookers.


Cuban Caricature and Culture: The Art of Massaguer
(June 7, 2019-March 1, 2020)
Self-Portrait by Conrado Walter Massaguer

The visualization of Cuban culture in the 1920’s and 1950’s was made possible by graphic artist Conrado Walter Massaguer’s through his cutting-edge political satire, published illustrations, and various famous caricatures. The dazzling installation Cuban Caricature and Culture was a gift from Vicki Gold Levi to the Wolfsonian Library. The installation is able to portray Massaguer’s monumental expertise through the depiction of dozens of pieces, such as the work he did for his magazine Social as well as graphics that envision tropical paradises for the Cuban Tourist Commission. Massaguer’s reach of influence extended far beyond Cuba, as shown through cartoons of visiting personalities including Walt Disney, the King of Spain, and Albert Einstein. Most notable, however, is Massaguer’s work for the magazines Collier’s and Life for which he designed the covers.

(August 29, 2019-January 26, 2020)

In conjunction with Cuban Caricature and Culture the exhibition Caricaturas highlights the works of many of Conrado Walter Massaguer’s colleagues from Mexico and Cuba, two locations in which, during the 20th century, caricature was vital for its contribution to political analysis. On display are caricatures of notorious figures throughout history such as Charlie Chaplin, Queen Elizabeth II, Fidel Castro, and Adolf Hitler. Additionally, there is a collection of portraits and self-portraits of famous caricaturists such as Conrado Walter Massaguer, Miguel Covarrubias, and Xavier Cugat.

Pictured above is a self-portrait of Massaguer on a carousel. Depicted behind him are an angel and a demon, also riding the carousel. This is a single piece of artwork out of many in a collection of self-portraits done by Massaguer. He is very well-known for caricatures drawn of celebrities, as well as his successful magazines, however his self-portraits aren’t as prominent. What’s interesting about this piece of artwork is that as the carousel winds around in circles the angel and devil will always be behind Massaguer, following him and helping him make both good and bad decisions.

Special Programs

The Wolfsonian has prided itself for its work in conjunction with teachers and students for over twenty years. These programs are created with the intention of encouraging the next generation to become involved with and excited about art. Some programs that have been organized in the past are Teen Thoughts on Democracy, Page at a Time, Shenandoah Middle Museums Magnet Program, Artful Citizenship, and Artful Truth. The active program at the moment is a free public high school outreach program in partnership with Miami-Dade County called Zines for Progress (Z4P). Zines for Progress’s main goal is to open up a platform for students to address big ideas in a free, encouraging, and safe environment. The students are encouraged to be provocative in their ideas and opinions which allows for the fortification of critical thinking, research, and visual learning skills. Additional events are announced each month, however common events include Free Friday Guided Tours, Miami Beach Culture Crawl, Second Shift, and Sketching in the Galleries.


Sophia Gandarillas | Student at Florida International University

Have you visited The Wolfsonian prior? What is your reason for visiting?

  • I have never been to this museum before, I didn’t even know it existed until about a week ago. I’m visiting because I enjoy art and wanted to see what this museum had to offer. I am also a student at Florida International University, so I was interested in learning about what FIU as an institution had collected and chosen to exhibit. I was interested in what opportunities The Wolfsonian had to offer specifically to students as a result of being a part of the FIU community.

What was your favorite exhibit or collection? Why?

  • Cuban Caricature and Culture was my favorite exhibit at the museum. I come from a family of Cuban immigrants, so it was interesting to see some of the caricatures and cultural references from the time before the takeover of Fidel Castro. 

What did you enjoy the most about visiting The Wolfsonian?

  • The museum offered an inside look to life in the past that is not usually seen. It transported me to American life back in the 20th century. It was interesting to see some of the things that my grandparents and parents grew up around and interesting to see how time has brought evolution and change to technology and cultural interests.

Would you consider visiting The Wolfsonian again? Why or Why Not?

  • Honestly, I would not visit again. As much as it was interesting to see elements of the past, I found this museum to be quite creepy and dark. It gave me an almost haunted feeling and made me feel really uncomfortable. I also did not like the collection as a whole as I feel it was not very good in my opinion. The collection as a whole was not my favorite because it was not a strong representation of its values and mission. It seemed to me that it was a half-hearted attempt at completing their mission. A lot of the objects they had in their museum were not pieces of outstanding merit and where almost disappointing in their presence. I was also let down by the fact that on the day of my visit, one of the floors was closed for the installation of a new exhibit. While walking on the floors above I was able to look down at the closed floor and some of the things I saw were vaguely interesting. It was disappointing that I did not get to see the full exhibition but the unsettling feeling that the museum gave me made me want to leave as soon as possible.

What do you feel is the impact art institutions, such as museums, have on society?

  • Society is influenced greatly by not only art institutions but also by art and creativity itself. It is an important facet to life as it allows freedom to express oneself in a world that often criticizes such expression.


Dr. Francis Xavier Luca |
Chief Librarian at The Wolfsonian &
Adjunct Professor at FIU

Office: The Wolfsonian–FIU, MB01 324A;
Modesto A. Maidique Campus, DM 371A
Email: lucaf@fiu.edu
Telephone: 305.535.2641

What is your name?

  • Dr. Francis Luca

What is your job title?

  • I am the chief librarian and an adjunct professor of history at Florida International University.

If you feel comfortable answering, how long have you worked for the Wolfsonian? 

  • I have worked at the Wolfsonian for about twenty-seven years starting in 1991.

What was your inspiration to work at the Wolfsonian?

  • I was fascinated by their unique approach to dealing with art. The Wolfsonian is not focused on big name artists, but more about using the objects on display to shed light and tell stories about the past. There is also a lot of propaganda art that helps people sort of see that this is not just art for art’s sake, but it is art in the service of ideas.

What does it mean to be chief librarian at the Wolfsonian? 

  • Being chief librarian means that I am in charge of doing a lot of administrative work. This includes maintaining the budget, dealing with potential donors, and cultivating donors. I am also on the collections acquisition committee in which we vote on what is appropriate for The Wolfsonian’s collection. We also determine where funds should be dispersed. Additionally, I curate library and main exhibitions as well as smaller exhibitions. We wear a lot of hats here at The Wolfsonian which is why I am in charge of so many aspects of the museum. For example, I also catalogue a lot of the books that are coming in.

What do you enjoy the most about working at the Wolfsonian?

  • I would say that some of the more creative things are my favorite. For example, I really enjoy when school groups from both Miami-Dade high schools as well as college students visit. Essentially the educational aspects of The Wolfsonian are the parts in which I most enjoy.

Do you feel that the Wolfsonian is easily accessible to the public? Why or why not?

  • I do, we have been digitizing much of the collection which has made it very accessible virtually. The only aspect that complicates accessibility is the hectic Miami traffic that also makes it hard to find parking, however this is a problem throughout Miami, especially by the beaches.

Do you have a favorite exhibit, piece of artwork, or collection at the Wolfsonian? 

  • The Wolfsonian’s collection is so diverse that it is hard to pick favorites, it would be difficult to focus on only one artist. If I truly had to, I suppose the work of the artist Lynd Ward would be among my top choices. I’m interested in his work because he is actually attributed with the introduction of graphic novels to the united states. They were first popular in Germany but in early 1929 Ward brought graphic novels to fruition in the United States.


Sintesi Fascista by Alessandro Bruschetti

The Wolfsonian does a fantastic job of conveying its mission statement through the selection of collections and exhibitions that are in place. As visitors walk through the museum, ascending the various levels, a story of progress is truly communicated. With collections such as Deco to Art and Design in the Modern Age there is no question just how influential art is on society’s progress. The Wolfsonian concerns itself with molding the younger generation into well-rounded individuals fit to someday take the reins in leadership. Their mission statement speaks of influencing the future, a feat they are accomplishing through educational programs that are accessible to thousands of high school students in Miami-Dade County as well as Florida International University students. Not only are events organized for the young adults, but monthly events are also available which encourages everyone, no matter your age, to get involved with the museum. These programs help make The Wolfsonian an accessible institution no matter your age, race, or socioeconomic status.

There are a few factors that infringe on The Wolfsonian’s accessibility. Although The Wolfsonian bears no fault for the horrid Miami traffic, it does make it difficult to visit the museum. There are plenty of parking options, however, many find them to be very inconvenient. The Wolfsonian would benefit from putting into place a system to facilitate parking, which I’m sure would encourage more people to visit the museum. Additionally, the museum does an amazing job organizing events for young adults, such as college students and high schoolers, however more events for younger children should be implemented. Unfortunately, as of late society has placed a greater emphasis on the science and math fields as opposed to art. If children are stimulated by art at a young age their interest in the subject matter will greatly improve, fashioning them into more informed individuals. Education is one of The Wolfsonian’s core ideals and both the museum and its enthusiasts would benefit from a greater selection of programs for art-lovers of all ages.


*Additional information was obtained from The Wolfsonian’s official brochures and pamphlets.

Art Society Conflict: Ingrid Rocha

Hello, my name is Ingrid Rocha and I am a pre-med student at Florida International University. My majors are in both Biological Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, and my minors are in Portuguese and Chemistry. I am pursuing these degrees in order to prepare for the difficult road to medical school. I am unsure of which area of study I will choose once I become a doctor, however I am interested in surgical specialties. Although I was born in Miami I moved away as a young child and did not get to grow up enjoying the many sights Miami has to offer. As a result, I decided to immerse myself in the culture by partaking in the Art Society Conflict class. Being a Biology major means there are very few classes outside of the realm of science that is available, so by taking an art class I hope to broaden my horizons and become a more well-rounded individual.

Norton As Text

Article by Ingrid Rocha of FIU in Norton Museum of Art
Photography by Sophia Gandarillas
September 22, 2019

The Norton Museum of Art was the first museum I have been to in the state of Florida. As a result, the museum and its paintings hold a very special place in my heart. The painting that especially piqued my interest is in the image pictured above. It is called The Rest and was composed by the French artist Eugène Fromentin in 1872. The Rest was created through the use of oil on, what most likely is, Brazilian Mahogany wood. This detail was characteristic of the painters at the time for their fascination with creating flawless paintings, which therefore required extremely smooth surfaces.

A detail that stood out to me the most about The Rest was the landscape and extreme detail. Fromentin was an orientalist painter which means he was fascinated with landscapes, architecture, and North African subjects. I believe this is why this work of art stood out to me the most among others within the Norton. I love art that depicts beautiful landscapes with citizens going about their daily business, which is exactly what is happening in The Rest. Within this painting, although there is beautiful architecture included, what attracted my attention the most was the subjects. The manner in which Fromentin depicts the civilians interacting with one another seemed so vivid and life-like that it was able to completely entrance me. Another aspect of The Rest that truly amazed me was the depiction of art moving past the norms of European cultures and religions. Instead they began depicted images of the landscapes they explored such as those found in Africa and Asia. I believe this is what led Fromentin and many other orientalist artists to paint images such as these.

Deering As Text

Article by Ingrid Rocha of FIU in Deering Estate
Photography by Sophia Gandarillas
October 2, 2019

My whole experience at the Deering Estate was extremely out of the ordinary for me. I never would have imagined that here in South Florida there would be such an amazing refuge of ancient life. When I arrived at the Deering Estate I already knew it was going to be an experience like no other. Our first hike comprised of visiting a burial site belonging to paleo-Indians and other extinct species. It truly shocked me that there, where we stood, there were bones belonging to not only ancient Indians, but also dire wolves and mammoths. I felt as if I had been transported to another world as I marveled at the thought of mammoths treading the grounds I walk on today. The image above depicts the a piece of a mammoth’s tooth. This truly brings into perspective the massive size of the animal that once was thriving in the area.

The next hike that we went on was to the Tequesta Native American burial mound. I was extremely fascinated with the Tequesta tribe. I was shocked to learn that there are no descendants of the Tequesta’s, as well as no images that show their appearance. It is as if they were wiped off the face of the earth with only this burial mound and a few journal writings to confirm their existence. It was shocking to me that a people could be wiped out in such a way that almost no one is aware that they even existed in the first place. 

Our visit to the Deering Estate served as an eye-opener for me into the fact that we rarely give any thought to those who may have inhabited our land before we got here. I never would have thought that an extinct people, the Tequesta Native American’s, once lived where I do today. It pains me that they no longer thrive and we are unable to know more about them and their culture. Through this trip I was able to gain insight into what Miami was truly like hundreds and thousands of years ago. We may have paved, built, modernized, and developed most of the land, however, there is no denying Miami’s roots if you just dig deep enough. It makes me wonder, what other marvels lie beneath he ground in our own backyards? 

Wynwood As Text

Article by Ingrid Rocha of FIU in the Margulies Collection and De La Cruz Collection
October 16, 2019

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse was the first private collection I have had the opportunity to visit, and so it holds a dear place in my heart. This is ironic because all the art was contemporary and very different from the art that I usually enjoy. The Margulies collection contained a lot of sculptures, a form of art that I do not typically enjoy very much. However, I do enjoy photography which Margulies had a whole room dedicated to.

My favorite photographs were those that depicted life inside of an American prison by the American photographer and film maker Danny Lyon. Danny Lyon typically works with a photographic style called New Journalism in which the photographer becomes immersed and participates in the subject being documented. He is the founder of the published group Black Beauty and was present for almost all the major events during the Civil Rights Movement. His photography spoke to me in a way that was foreign, I had never experienced or seen such powerful photography. As I analyzed each photo of the inmates I felt as if I was really there. Lyon provides a powerful window into the lives of those that the common person has never and will probably never experience.

Although the photography was very powerful to me, the statues and artwork that comprised the Margulies Collection did not have a very strong impact on me and I believe that is because I like more traditional and less abstract forms of art which were not quite present in the pieces Mr. Margulies collected.

The second location that we visited as a class was the De La Cruz Collection. This collection was much more my style and had a more welcoming atmosphere. While the De La Cruz collection seemed peaceful, gentle, and aesthetically pleasing, the Margulies collection was colder and had a more bizarre aspect to it. This is not to say that one collection was better than the other as, despite both holding contemporary artwork, they were very different from one another. The De La Cruz collection simply happened to house a lot of paintings that I found more soothing to look at while the Margulies collection held photographs, not paintings or sculptures, that are now dear to my heart. I would love to return to either collection to study the artwork in a calmer, less rushed, setting outside of the constraints of class time.

Above I have pictured a close up of a painting by Christopher Wool. Some may believe, at first glance, that the painting is simply a repetition of pattern however upon further scrutinization it is much more than that as the details are astonishing. Although this is a contemporary piece, I found it extremely soothing to look at. I was immediately drawn to this piece of artwork which surprised me as I am not characteristically drawn to contemporary artwork the way I was to this painting.

Vizcaya As Text

Article by Ingrid Rocha of FIU in Vizcaya and the LnS Gallery
Vizcaya Photography by Sophia Gandarillas
October 30, 2019

When I arrived at Vizcaya, I was immediately drawn to the magnificent triumphal arch that is pictured above. James Deering did an amazing job constructing Vizcaya into a scene right out of, what one would only attribute to being, a European villa. However, there are so many different stylistic elements that went into the construction of Vizcaya that it is possible to see traces of roman, gothic, Mediterranean, and Bahamian architectural influences.

Vizcaya was created for one purpose however, and that was so that James Deering could make a name for himself. Furthermore, not only did he create a name for himself, but through the construction of Vizcaya he also set a precedent for would become Miami and South Beach. Much of the architecture seen in Miami is reminiscent of Vizcaya, however that is not the extent of the similarities between Vizcaya and Miami. James Deering was a man who loved to enjoy himself, especially in the form of drinking, women, and parties. This was clear as soon as you entered his home and came face-to-face with the statue of Dionysus, the god of wine and pleasure himself. Much like Vizcaya in its heyday, Miami and South Beach are known as world famous party destinations, littered with clubs and restaurants that cater to those who simply want to have a good time. It is important to realize where things originated from, and it is easy to attest that Vizcaya is a clear preceptor to what became the city of Miami.

The LnS Gallery was an amazing opportunity to become acquainted with how the process of buying and selling artwork is accomplished. The owners of the LnS Gallery were an extremely friendly and warm couple who enthusiastically answered all the questions they were being asked. They did so with patience, poise, and friendliness. What was most interesting for me to learn about the business aspect behind art was how little the artist sometimes makes due to their own lack of confidence in their own artwork. I was disappointed to learn that there are galleries, artists, and clients alike who will try to trick one another into situations that are not favorable to opposing party. It is interesting, however, that the LnS Gallery is trying to bring forth a new era in the business of buying and selling artwork, more specifically focused on the relationship between gallery and artist they represent.

The overall atmosphere of the LnS Gallery was welcoming and neat which I believe are two extremely important aspects all galleries should have. If a gallery is not welcoming, they will not receive clients, and if it is not neat then attention is being brought away from the artwork that is supposed to be sold. Overall the experience I had at LnS Gallery was one I will remember for a very long time and has given me a newfound appreciation for the business of buying and selling art.

Design District As Text

Article by Ingrid Rocha of FIU in ICA Miami
November 13, 2019

Visiting the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Miami was one of the greatest artistic encounters I have had. I had the privilege of being able to see world famous Yayoi Kusama’s “All The Eternal Love I Have For Pumpkins” (2016). Kusama has been creating and exhibiting exhibitions which include reflective surfaces, lights, and bold colors since 1965. This piece of artwork includes two of Kusama’s favorite and most iconic symbols- polka dots and pumpkins. When I entered the installation, I was immediately overcome with a sense of awe for the artwork I was witnessing. The bright lights from the pumpkins and the mirrors all around me made the term “infinity room” come to life. It seemed that my reflection in the mirrors would continue perpetually.

After visiting Yayoi Kusama’s infinity room I was able to see the rest of the ICA’s impressive collection of contemporary art. I was captivated by the sheer number of impressive pieces of art. Most impressive was the two floors dedicated to Sterling Ruby. Ruby has been able to construct in just two decades a body of work that is among the most influential of our time. There is no medium he hasn’t experimented with, including spray painted canvasses, works in urethane and ceramic, and soft sculptures made from textiles. My favorite art is pictured above. It features a fiberglass droplet of what I interpret as blood on top of a block pedestal. What I was most impressed with in regard to Ruby was that his artwork is open to interpretation. He does not specify a meaning for most of his artwork, and a lot of the pieces are considered having no meaning whatsoever. I believe this is a great concept because it allows more people to enjoy Ruby’s artwork in a personally meaningful way.

Miami Art as Text

Article by Ingrid Rocha of FIU at UNTITLED & Art Miami
December 4th, 2019


Through Professor John Bailly’s Art Society Conflict class I have been exposed to the art community in a way that I never thought would have been possible. I do not come from a very art-oriented family and thus never had any introduction to the art scene prior to taking this course. I feel as if my introduction to the world of art came full circle with my attendance of Art Basel, specifically the events UNTITLED and Art Miami. The first event was the eighth edition of UNTITLED which was located right on South Beach and constituted of about 126 exhibitors from 28 different countries. This wide range of exhibitors is an important aspect to consider because it is a rare occurrence that many of the countries at the fair get this kind of massive representation.

Gallery 1957 which is located in Accra, Ghana is a perfect example that may be used in order to explain why art fairs such as UNTITLED are so important to artists and galleries in the foreign market. Gallery 1957’s Director Victoria Alice Cooke was extremely gracious and enthusiastically answered all of the questions about the gallery, her line of work, and the artists and artworks featured. One of the subjects she spoke about was all of the obstacles she faces as a foreign gallery. For example, the gallery must organize more showing across the globe, much more than a usual American gallery would. This is done because it is difficult to gain exposure in Ghana without extensive representation outside of the country. Cooke also explained that a large sum of her time goes into obtaining visas for the artists she represents in order to have them attend their art showings.

One of the artists Gallery 1957 chose to represent at UNTITLED this year was Joana Choumali whose artwork called SOMETIMES I WONDER IF THEY CAN HEAR IT AS WELL (2019) is pictured above. Choumali’s artwork displays life in Côte d’Ivoire in a whimsical manner. Choumali spent much of her early professional career as a photographer, however she fell ill and was no longer able to do so. In response to her condition, Choumali began to print her photography and embroider over the images which resulted in the whimsical scene above. The reason why UNTITLED is so important is because it provides a platform for both local and foreign artists to truly show their talents in a massive unregulated industry. Without fairs such as UNTITLED, it would be very difficult for galleries such as Gallery 1957 to gain international recognition and it is very likely I would never have been introduced to the works by Joana Choumali.

Art Miami
Prima Donna by Nathalia Edenmont

The second event that I attended was Art Miami. This event held galleries that sold predominantly secondary market artwork which contrasts with UNTITLED which predominantly dealt with primary market artwork. Primary market refers to artwork coming straight from an artist’s studio by means of a gallery or contemporary art fair, most likely being sold for the first time. Secondary market refers to the resale of artworks through either private sales or auctions in which the artist usually has very little contact with the dealers or galleries. Art Miami features installations from more than 250 international galleries, many of which are selling renowned artwork by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Fernando Botero, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring.

Pictured above is a piece of artwork from the Nancy Hoffman Gallery called Prima Donna by photographer Nathalia Edenmont. Edenmont’s art pieces are created with a team of eight to twelve people and about twelve hours to compose a shot. Edenmont’s inspiration for her photography is stemmed from what she calls the “hypocrisy that colored her upbringing.” She states that in photographs “wilting flowers bloom long after they have withered” which likens to the “ideals that were once vivid in her youth.” Edenmont is most likely alluding to her upbringing in Yalta which was formerly part of the USSR.

Art Miami is, like UNTITLED, a unique market that allows for many different types of art to be shown and sold in one location. Edenmont’s brilliant photography is shown in one gallery’s booth while across the corridor another artist’s glass-blown sculpture stood, thoroughly exemplifying Art Miami’s inclusivity of all types of art.

Bakehouse As Text

Article by Ingrid Rocha of FIU in the Bakehouse Art Complex
January 15, 2020

Photograpahy by Juan Matos

Upon visiting the Bakehouse Art Complex, I was introduced to what I have always envisioned to be what the ideal art community center would look like. A massive space in which artists of every kind would be able to create without any boundaries, all with the purpose of enhancing the community in which they reside. I had the privilege of being introduced to the Bakehouse Art Complex’s acting director, Cathy Leff. Leff was kind enough to spend quite a while discussing her plans for the Bakehouse Art Complex and answering any questions that may have been brought up. It was clear that her ultimate goal was to enrich the community that the Bakehouse Art Complex is situated in. Leff encouraged the students to visit Bakehouse simply if they need a place to study, or simply to immerse themselves in the arts. I highly recommend doing so as Bakehouse has become a location in which anyone is welcome, and they are making strides to become even more accessible to their community. Bakehouse is essentially an institution that, through supporting their community, they strive for a world in which artists abilities and values are respected and supported.

While visiting the Bakehouse Art Complex, I also had the opportunity to see the art exhibition “Between the Legible and the opaque: Approaches to an ideal in place” which is curated by artist Adler Guerrier. This exhibition explores the concept of perception. Part of the exhibition is the series of photographs above which provides an excellent example of the thematic emphasis on perception. The photographer is Juan Matos and the photographs belong to a series called “Episodios de la lucha clandestine en La Habana”. The photos, from left to right, are named “Las trenzas de Nina”, “Nina corriendo en su tutu”, and “Nina en la casa de abuelo Kiki”.

The way in which the photographer captures his subject is almost whimsical in nature which provides a sense of familiarity. It should be noted that the figure always seems to be moving away which lends to the theme of perception. The audience has no idea who the girl in the photograph is due to the fact that she is always moving or facing away, however there is a sense of familiarity to the photo that almost anyone can relate to. The fact that we do not know this girl and can barely make out her face as she gets farther and farther away directly correlates to opacity, a central theme in the exhibition. Additionally, this photograph possesses a duality about it because it also correlates to the theme of legibility due to the sense of familiarity that emanates from it. Guerrier expertly selected this collection of photographs for the exhibition as it is clear that there are various layers of perception in these art pieces, certainly “between the legible and the opaque.”

Between the Legible and the opaque: Approaches to an ideal in place” clearly supports the Bakehouse Art Complex’s mission. Bakehouse welcomes everyone and supports artists in the pursuit of making itself an institution in which the community is able to participate in and enjoy. Perception, the theme of the art exhibition, is an important part in bringing Bakehouse’s mission to fruition. Their intentions may have been shrouded, opaque, and misunderstood by many people in the community however with all the events they are promoting this supports the legibility of their mission, to be an institution which concerns itself with community.

Rubell As TExt

Article by Ingrid Rocha of FIU in Rubell Museum
January 27, 2020

Photography by Ingrid Rocha at the Rubell Museum

The Rubell Museum is a newly inaugurated private contemporary art collection belonging to Don and Mera Rubell. The Rubell’s art collection comprises of over 7,200 pieces obtained over the past 50 years, so needless to say the Rubell Museum has on display a rich selection of art by artists such as Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, Cindy Sherman, and Robert Longo. Their dedication to their mission of “searching for new art and art that has been overlooked” has truly transformed the art scene in Miami. Mera Rubell stated that she wanted to let the many voices that contribute to contemporary artwork speak to the Rubell Museum’s visitors rather than present a single narrative. This theme of open-mindedness is truly an important aspect that gives rise to the true extent in which the contemporary art world can influence society.

An example of an artist featured at the Rubell Museum is Robert Longo whose artwork “Men Trapped in Ice” is pictured above. Longo is one of the many artists who the Rubell’s supported at the beginning of their art careers and gave them the vote of confidence to continue making meaningful pieces. This piece in particular is important to highlight as it is the first work Longo created in his “Men in the Cities” series so it marks an important starting point for the artist himself. Interesting about this piece is the duality in question of whether the men pictured, whom were modeled after Longo’s friends, were dancing or dying. This very duality is also what spurred Longo on to keep adding and creating to the series that became so pivotal in his career, “Men in the Cities.” It is important to recall the Rubell’s mission, to let the voices of contemporary artwork speak for itself. I believe “Men Trapped in Ice” is a great example of this concept because, as the artist himself stated, there is a duality about this piece that must be studied, and the conclusion can only be made by the beholder. I, for one, believe they are dancing.

MDC Printmaking as Text

Article by Ingrid Rocha of FIU in Miami Dade College
February 12, 2020

Professor Jennifer Basile, of Miami Dade College, was kind enough to share with Professor John Bailly’s class her talent and passion for printmaking. Pictured above is Professor Basile demonstrating one of the many steps in printmaking, mixing and softening the ink. We had the privilege of taking a hands-on approach to printmaking, specifically the creation of a black and white monoprint. Professor Basile began the teaching session but providing us with examples of different monoprints and demonstrating the entire process form beginning to end. From the lying out of ink to the pressing of the created image from plexi-glass to printmaking paper, the entire process was explained in amazing detail.

The most pivotal part of this experience was the fact that Professor Basile opened up her classroom to us and allowed us to use her equipment to make our own monoprints. This was extremely important to me in particular because it made art accessible even though I do not particularly consider myself an “artistic” person. The atmosphere in the classroom was joyful as students occupied themselves with experiencing the new and stimulating activities. It was an especially liberating and freeing environment that allowed me to break away from my normally rigid and monotonous daily life. Learning new things, even if they’re outside of your comfort zone, is extremely important in shaping a student into a more well-rounded individual. This is precisely what occurred in Professor Basile’s classroom, without a doubt every student there that day gained experience and insight into an important and sometimes overlooked aspect of art society.

Deering Estate As Text

Article by Ingrid Rocha of FIU in Deering Estate
March 23, 2020
Photography by Keith Anthony Ng

Photo by Keith Anthony Ng

Upon visiting the Deering Estate for the second time, I was able to truly appreciate the entirety of what the institution has to offer. My first visit comprised of visiting the Tequesta Native American burial mound and the Paleo-Indian burial site. This was an extremely valuable experience because I was able to gain insight into Miami’s eventful past, as well as an appreciation for its lush vegetation. My second visit to the Deering Estate provided me with an entirely different experience. I was able to learn about the man who started it all, Charles Deering.

Charles Deering was a chairman of the International Harvester Company from Chicago which enabled him to move to Miami and build the now historic Deering Estate. The Deering Estate has a visitor’s center and two important landmarks, the Richmond Cottage and the Stone House. The Richmond Cottage in particular is very important because it is the last house that remains from a town known as Cutler, making it one of the oldest structures in Miami-Dade County. The Stone House’s importance is derived from the very reason it was constructed, as a place dedicated to art. Charles Deering was very fascinated with art which led him to fill the dance hall within the Stone House with various pieces of artwork.

During my second visit to the Deering Estate I volunteered for an event that was occurring which gave me the opportunity to fully appreciate the two houses Charles Deering built. Most importantly, however, is the fact that the Deering Estate opens its doors to the public for various occasions, most of them being extremely informative to the public. These events vary from poetry readings, astronomical viewings, and even an annual Seafood Festival. These events are important because they provide to the public, both young and old, an environment in which they may learn. Institutions such as these are pivotal in today’s single-specialty society. Many people do not learn new things outside their own field of work which provides for a less well-rounded individual.

The Deering Estate’s many events touch all aspects of life which makes it a great place to learn new things. Additionally, the Deering Estate holds workshops for young students to learn outside their homes and in the outdoors. This is important in our fast-paced technological society in which many young children are becoming solely dependent on technology. It is important to see and experience the world, especially when you’re young and learning. The Deering Estate provides an ideal location for such educational purposes due to its rich history and lush flora and fauna.

Miami Beach As Text

Article by Ingrid Rocha of FIU in Miami Beach
March 30, 2020
Photography by John W. Bailly

Miami Beach: (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

Everyone is aware that Miami is a cultural epicenter, however not everyone knows how valid this statement is. Because Miami is so vast, it is not possible to discuss every aspect of it. Thus, the area being studied is South Beach. This is due to its diversity, rich culture, and enigmatic history. Today, South Beach is a pivotal attraction to any person visiting South Florida. It’s world-famous beaches, impressive architecture, and celebrity presence has attracted tourists for decades. However, South Beach’s development came at an environment and human cost that is typically overlooked or unknown.

Many people believe that Miami Beach was originally a desolate island with no human presence whatsoever. In reality, prior to Carl Fisher developing it, Miami Beach was already a multiracial town in which everybody knew everybody else. Not only that, but there is evidence that humans have been living on that land for over 10,000 years. The Tequesta originally inhabited the land, however, after their extinction the Seminoles, African Americans, and Afro-Bahamians lived and thrived on what is now known as Miami Beach.

It is important to recall the environmental impact Miami Beach’s ecosystem underwent due to Carl Fisher’s development. Originally, Miami Beach was a barrier island densely populated by mangroves. There were even freshwater springs that were important for the humans and creatures who lived there. Unfortunately, as Miami Beach was developed the natural springs were eradicated and habitats ripped apart due to the destruction of the mangroves, which sustained marine life.

It is clear that prior to being developed Miami Beach was multicultural, however it’s important to highlight some of the pivotal centers that now make Miami Beach such a cultural epicenter. Some of the most prominent locations that contribute towards the sustainment of culture are the Jewish Museum of Florida, The Betsy Poetry Rail, and The Wolfsonian. These are all centers of culture located in South Beach, in which people may go to learn and expand their views of the world to become more well-rounded individuals.

The Jewish Museum of Florida holds great importance because it is the only one of its kind. The Jewish community has had a tumultuous past in South Beach due to the discrimination they received from Carl Fischer and Henry Flagler. Despite this, the Jewish community in Miami Beach is very large today which is why the Jewish Museum of Florida is so important. The museum puts on display and discusses over 250 years of Jewish history, specifically in Florida.

Similar to The Jewish Museum of Florida is the Wolfsonian. The Wolfsonian is a museum dedicated to illustrating how art and design can be persuasive. This is done throu9gh the depiction of the social, political, and technological changes that have transformed the world. For example, the Industrial Revolution is one of the themes explored through the artifacts in the museum. The Wolfsonian is very unique in nature and has diverse artwork that caters to a large audience. Additionally, there is an exhibit within the Wolfsonian that discusses Cuban culture. There is a large community of Cubans in South Florida, so it is important that they are represented, and the Wolfsonian does just that.

The Betsy Poetry Rail is also an important contributor to the powerful cultural scene in South Beach. The Betsy Poetry Rail shows avid support of the arts by inviting poets, such as Richard Blanco, to be represented by showcasing their poems. Poetry is often overlooked; however, it is an important aspect of culture. It enables people to feel emotions, relate to others, and find a home for themselves when they feel out of place.

Needless to say, locations such as those mentioned above are important for a society to grow and develop. Without a cultural basis a city is just a city, replicable and unimportant. The fact that Miami Beach has stayed relevant is a result of all the art, music, literature, and history that fills the streets with tourists.