Miami in Miami Fall 2019 Service Project: Juliana Pereira

Holiday Toy and Food Drive

For the 4th consecutive year, Saint Catherine of Siena Catholic Church’s Brazilian Community organizes a holiday toy and food drive. This was the second year I worked hands-on throughout the full process. On the first Sunday of November, we announce the start of our annual project.

Mexican immigrants come to Homestead temporarily to work in the harvest. Their stay can prolong from 2 months to over a year. They mainly work during, “the [tomato] harvest season extends from December to May” (Y. C. Li, Tomato Production in Miami-Dade County, Florida). When it rains heavy, they may stay days without working. Their pay is just enough to keep the themselves clothed and fed. These immigrants all live in a community near the fields. Many families bring their children with them. While the parents are working all day long, the kids need to go to school. Some children are old enough to attend a primary or secondary public school. But the younger kids – 2 months old to 5 years old – stay at a daycare within the community.

We partner with 4 of these daycares to bring some Christmas joy! These are non-profit daycares made up of volunteer administrators, teachers, and janitors. They provide free breakfast and lunch to the kids. Every year we get a list of approximately 150 kids from all 4 daycares combined. Sometimes this is their first time in Homestead, others have returned year after year.

At church, everyone “adopts” 1-3 children. We provide them with each child’s name, age, clothes and shoe sizes, and something they are interested in (Frozen, soccer, reading, Spider-Man, etc.) We ask that the gift consists of a complete set of clothes, shoes, and a toy. Several people go above and beyond with bicycles and pretty dresses. All gifts must be wrapped and labeled correctly. Throughout November we collect these gifts every Sunday at church. The first week of December, we inspect all the gifts to ensure that it is complete, appropriate, and labeled.

In addition to the gifts for the kids, we collect staple food items to put together a basket for the families and teachers. We ask for donations of canned goods, rice, beans, flour, oil, salt, sugar, coffee, pasta, sauce. Of course, many also include delicious treats, such as cookies, candy, cereal, crackers, juice boxes, soda, and much more. We collect these items throughout November as well. In the beginning of December, we sort the items to verify they are sealed and within expiration date. Then we package the items in boxes and baskets.

One week before Christmas we deliver the gifts. We separate the presents by school and classroom. A group of 10 to 15 people join to load up approximately 5 SUVs and mini-vans full of gift bags, baskets, and boxes. We drive to each school together. We have a Santa Clause who carries all the gifts in a big bag on his back with the help of his elves (me!). When we enter the classrooms, all the kids glare at us incredibly. Some start to cry, but most of them run to hug Santa. That’s the most beautiful part of the project. Seeing their little faces glow, their eyes widen, and their smiles stretch. I call out their names and they scurry to grab their gift and take a picture on Santa’s lap.

Unfortunately, since we have to go to 4 different schools, we are not able to stay to meet the parents and personally give them the food baskets. Nevertheless, the directors of each school always tell us how grateful the parents are for our project. Often, Americans are the first to give a hand to those in need overseas, but they forget to look at what is going on in our own backyard. Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust have surveyed that, “…3,628 people are experiencing homelessness in Miami-Dade County” (Mozloom). There are several people in need right here in Miami. We do not need to go too far to help someone in need. During this holiday season, we have this concrete act of kindness as a religious community, but this has helped inspire many individuals to continue helping others all year long. As I continue through my last year of college, I want to dedicate more of my time towards my community. Amidst all the stress from finals, this project has always helped me feel good. It helped me stop worrying about my insignificant problems and see what the real struggle is. I have so much to be thankful for and so much to give!

Works Cited

Mozloom, Lisa. “Affordable housing critical to maintaining downward trend of street homelessness in Miami-Dade County.” 20 February 2019. Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust News Release. Document.

Y. C. Li, W. Klassen, Mary Lamberts, Teresa Olczyk, and Guodong Liu. “Tomato Production in Miami-Dade County, Florida.” November 2017. University of Florida IFAS Extension. Document.

Ineffable Miami Project: Juliana Pereira

Juliana Pereira is an Accounting student at Florida International University, also enrolled in the Honors College. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Daughter of two Brazilian immigrants. Although she’s spent all her 19 years of life in Miami, she knew little about her hometown. Fortunately, she has had the opportunity of exploring Miami with new eyes this semester. Now she’s in love with this city more than ever!

Coconut Grove


Coconut Grove stretches from Rickenbacker Causeway and South Dixie Highway to North Prospect Drive from north to south and Biscayne Bay and LeJeune Road from east to west. It is south of Brickell and east of Coral Gables, other popular neighborhoods of Miami. It contains a plethora of subdistricts: Center Grove, Northeast Coconut Grove, Southwest Coconut Grove, and West Grove. It is one of Miami’s greenest areas and is filled with lush trees. It is also by the water, making it a known scenic spot. Yet, the neighborhood is constantly improving for its visitors and therefore has a lot of property value.


Before becoming the modern and chic area that is it today, Coconut Grove was once a flourishing tropical wilderness. The Native American tribes of the Tequesta lived along the coast of Biscayne Bay. Upon European settlement, the Tequesta were enslaved and eventually wiped out. In the mid-1800s, the Homestead Act and the idea of free land enticed settlers to South Florida. The first wave of immigrants arrived in 1870 from the Bahamas. They found jobs at the Peacock Inn, formerly the Bay View House, in Coconut Grove. Charles and Isabella Peacock established the first South Florida Hotel in 1882. As the hotel’s clientele grew, so did the inflow of work-seeking Bahamians in Coconut Grove. The Joseph Frow homestead became a settlement for Bahamians that worked at the Peacock Inn and nearby white settlers’ homes. West Coconut Grove, where these settlements were located, was nicknamed Colored Town. While East Coconut Grove was called White Town. However, in 1889 the Plymouth Congregational Church had the first public school in the county which eventually made it possible for it to be the first church where blacks and whites would attend together. Henry Flagler’s railroad system changed the demographics drastically because suddenly hundreds of settlers were going to the area and this led to quick development. America entering World War I in 1917 is what brought about a new era full of aviators and booming real estate. In 1919, Coconut Grove incorporated as a town and no longer contained the “a” in its name. In 1954, Coconut Grove became a center for politics. Throughout the decades since being established in the 1800s, the Coconut Grove has grown while remaining a unique area. 


The dichotomy created before the 1900s with the segregation of Colored Town and White Town still persists today. The majority of the population of Coconut Grove earns over $36,000 per year, with most of that majority earning between $60k and $191k. The area is divided racially, with the northern area of the neighborhood being 70-75% white, while the southernmost area is 50-60% white and the midwestern area is less than 20% white.


Coconut Grove is home to an array of cultural landmarks. Among these are the Boswell Mourot Fine Art, which features local and international art for collectors’ purchase. Midori Gallery focuses on East Asian art and culture, housing artifacts and all other types of visual art. The Coconut Grove Arts Festival Gallery is a gallery that presents contemporary art all related to South Florida and its culture. 

There are also important historical landmarks, such as Vizcaya Museums and Gardens, whose owner, John Deering, had it built in the early 1920s. There is even a bit of feminist history in the Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove, started by Fiona McFarlane in 1891. She began the institution to create camaraderie among the women in the area, and it still stands for events and as a gathering space for women in the city today. The Barnacle Historic State Park is the site of Ralph Middleton Munroe’s house. He was a pioneer and civic activist, and the house and park highlight Florida’s history and the environment from 1891. An important shopping spot is CocoWalk, a high-end outdoor mall at the center of the neighborhood that attracts shoppers and tourists. It has several boutique clothing stores, restaurants and bars, and even a movie theater.

Green Spaces

David Kennedy Park: Known for its variety of greenery and vistas, this park spans across 20 acres. The park serves as a recreational spot to grove residents, allowing them to exercise or relax as they surround themselves by coastal mangroves, the scenery of the waterfront, and enough space to have a clear view of the sunrise. The park even caters to pets, having sections reserved for the purpose of being dog parks.

Peacock Park: Providing 9.4 acres for its visitors to explore, Peacock Park, welcomes everyone. Recreational activities at the park are found outdoors as well as indoors for those that prefer a less heated experience. Visitors can also spend time on the boardwalk and take in the scenery of Biscayne Bay. Despite all of its appealing features, Peacock Park is famously known for hosting the annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival that takes place every February.

Barnacle Historic State Park: The Barnacle was built in 1891 and for the most part still appears nowadays as it did back in the day. This is Ralph Munroe’s Biscayne Bay home, a pioneer from Coconut Grove. This is an area of preservation and has been left in its natural state with many large, old trees. It is a reminder of simplicity and visitors can tour the area, picnic, walk their dogs, or view the sailboats as they pass by. 

Alice C. Wainwright Park: Wainwright Park is most famously known for being one of Coconut Grove’s unique coastal parks. Many of its visitors get to gaze upon the limestone outcrop of the Miami Rock Ridge. However, there exists a higher elevated part of the park, known as the Brickell Hammock. This area of forestry is populated by tropical hardwood that once stretched from the Miami River to the North Grove. Unfortunately, due to a reduction in the forestry, visitors are unable to visit this portion of the park.


Parking lots & Valet: Coconut Grove has 13 public parking lots and garages. It costs $5 to park up to 2 hours and $10 for any more than 2 hours. These locations are open every day from 10 AM to 10 PM. Some hours may vary, please check the Coconut Grove Transportation website any people drive to Coconut Grove, park at a garage and then walk on foot, ride a bike or scooter. Generally, restaurants offer valet parking for their clients. But now Coconut Grove has established a Centralized Valet pilot system. There are 4 stations in which cars may be dropped off and picked up, regardless of what establishments you are visiting. The best part is that the rates are the same as the self-park lots and garages. 

FreeBee: This is a free transportation service that is growing throughout South Florida. Supporting South Florida’s Climate Action Plan, FreeBee’s vehicles are electrically powered. Running on clean energy helps reduce carbon emissions. To request a ride, users need to download the free app. While on the ride, FreeBee advertises national and local businesses, deals, and discounts around town. 

Miami Trolley: The City of Miami provides a public trolley service that runs through Coconut Groove  The trolley stopping at Grand Ave, South Bayshore Drive, Grove Metrorail Stations, and Peacock Park and Kennedy Park approximately every 15 to 30 minutes. This free and reliable service gives both residents and visitors the opportunity to conveniently travel throughout the city. 

Metrorail: Metrorail is a system of tracks that provides transportation throughout many neighborhoods in Miami, such as Kendall, Coral Gables, downtown Miami, and, of course, Coconut Grove. To ride it, a transit pass is needed. While not a free service, discounts are available for Miami-Dade County employees, students, veterans, senior citizens, etc. To get to Coconut Grove, you can take the Metrorail Orange Line which will take you to its stations. There is a station close to SW 27th Avenue which is just a walk away from the heart of the Grove.


Bahamians started opening up businesses in West Coconut Grove on Charles Avenue, many ran at-home businesses. The more the population grew, the more businesses came to be. There were even cordial relations between blacks and whites. This allowed Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup, Sr. to become the most successful black businessman in Coconut Grove, which was not an easy feat for blacks in the 1900s. Nowadays, Coconut Grove is continuing to grow and is solidifying itself as a progressive neighborhood. It is an established business district with a diverse community – it is not just the stereotypical business firms seen here, but designers and web developers as well. Cocowalk is an example of construction going underway to better the community. It is the perfect destination for residents and tourists alike to give their business. It is an attraction that is home to many retail stores such as the Gap. Because of the renovations, it is going under, it will allow for new local businesses to come into the scene which would be beneficial from an economic standpoint. In particular, Optimum in the Grove provinces Class A office spaces as well as a restaurant that makes tenants have even better work experience.


The neighborhood’s tropical atmosphere draws people in to dine amongst the oak trees. Whether it be in a sidewalk cafe for brunch or rooftop patio for dinner, the neighborhood has quite a reputation for being a great place for people to get together to eat. There is a large variety in the types of cuisine offered, from French to Latin. Personally, I found the Greenstreet Cafe Lounge Restaurant to be the perfect brunch spot and its food leans American-style which the locals enjoy. America’s favorite meal of the day is breakfast and popular items for that time include their french toast or omelets. I recommend their caramelized banana pancakes for a twist on the common breakfast item that elevates the menu and makes it stand out. For the “best burgers in Miami,” one can go to LoKal whose German name translates to restaurant and meeting place. The burgers have ingredients that are sustainable and locally sourced. If you what you search is a taste of Asia in your backyard, Akashi Japanese Restaurant is quiet and provides excellent sushi. The restaurant’s dark lighting adds to the mood and experience. Miami is a cultural hub and is known for its large Latin community. Costa Med is Venezuelan owned and takes inspiration from European, Mediterranean, and South American styles. Whether it be their steak tartare or lobster ravioli, their food is very enjoyable. However, it is never just about the food in Coconut Grove. The locations themselves are picturesque and guarantee a special time. 


Coconut Grove is a neighborhood rich with history and culture. The area has evolved with the times, ensuring that it is accessible to tourists and residents alike by promoting public transportation and green alternatives to driving. Even so, Coconut Grove maintains its historic architecture and landscape. It is full of green spaces and waterfront areas that give the Grove a natural, cozy atmosphere. It also has a busy and diverse cultural life: restaurants are varied, with a selection of international food in picturesque areas, which drives demand from the local population and tourists. Many of these are higher-end boutique restaurants. Similarly, there are plenty of small shopping stores placed among larger chain stores, increasing the variety and appeal for shoppers. As the neighborhood continues to grow and gain attention, it will likely get more expensive both for residents to live and for tourists to eat, shop and eat. Overall, Coconut Grove caters to the interest of any visitor. A day in the Grove can include brunch at a trendy restaurant, a shaded walk-in Peacock Park, an educational experience at one of the several museums, lunch at an Asian or Latin American restaurant, a tour through one of the historic homes and buildings, and a movie at the theater in CocoWalk. It is slightly hidden, so many Miami residents have never happened to run into it, but it is well worth a visit, both for someone visiting Florida and someone who has lived in Miami their whole life.

Works Cited

“Alice C. Wainwright Park in Coconut Grove, FL.” In Coconut Grove, FL,

Brown, Sierra. “The Best Restaurants In Coconut Grove, Miami.” Culture Trip, The Culture Trip, 26 Nov. 2015,

“City of Miami Median Household Income by Neighborhood.” Internet Archive,

“Coconut Grove Miami: ” Construction Updates.” Coconut Grove Miami | ” Construction Updates,

“Coconut Grove Miami: ” The History of Coconut Grove.” Coconut Grove Miami The History of Coconut Grove Comments,

“David Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove, FL.” In Coconut Grove, FL,

“Getting to and Around Coconut Grove.” Getting to and Around Coconut Grove,

“The Barnacle Historic State Park.” Florida State Parks,

“Top Things to Do in Miami.” Top Things to Do in Miami,

Miami in Miami: Juliana Pereira

Hi! I’m Juliana Pereira. I am an accountant-to-be from Florida International University’s College of Business. My passion is arts & crafts and event planning. I am the brain, heart, and hands behind Juliana’s Papercrafts & Planning. When I am not drowning in homework, I am making party decorations, invitations, gifts, shirts, you name it! (Shameless advertisement: follow me on instagram @julianaspapercrafts) Daughter of Brazilian immigrants. Born and raised in Miami — #305tilidie except when there’s a hurricane. In the past 19 years I have “lived” in Miami, but truthfully I haven’t lived in Miami. Never used public transportation (unless Uber counts), never heard of 90% of the towns Professor Bailly has mentioned, never kayaked in these waters, never visited Vizcaya, and who the heck is Mr. Deering? I am beyond thrilled to burst out of this bubble and explore the true essence of Miami.

Miami as Text: Metro Day

The City That Adopts and Adapts
Miami, home to a plethora of races and cultures. A big momma who embraces every child looking for a place to flourish. The city of nearly three million smiles, each unique with a fascinating story.
Upon entering James Deering’s famous home, we are greeted with a hovering statue of Dionysus; the god of wine, ecstasy, and fertility. The essence of Miami descended from this symbol. Miami is known for its luxury, beaches, entertainment, art, greenery, and weather.
During our Metro Day trip, we encountered three different cultures that have greatly impacted our city. As part of The MetroRail Underline beautification project, a classic Cuban symbol was cleverly incorporated. Much like Cuban immigrants that have shaped this city, domino columns serve as the base holding up the metro rail. At Vizcaya we see the arrival of wealthy white Europeans who started civilization off the waters of Biscayne. The architecture is jaw-dropping fascinating. Unfortunately, with much beauty came the horror of enslavement. Africans and Bahamians were brought overseas to work the land and at white homes. Nevertheless, the African American community persevered, and today we see their legacies at the lively community of Historic Overtown. Miami isn’t Miami without the history and culture adoption from these three groups of people.
Since the 18th century, Miami has continually improved its architecture and infrastructure. While trying to preserve its history, Miami has made some interesting adaptations. Designers and engineers have quite literally “worked around” significant buildings. At Vizcaya, the modern traffic light pole fit unbelievably perfectly through the antique street light fixture. Similarly, in Overtown, the Palmetto highway basically grazes by the walls of the Historic Baptist Church. Many political factors drove these intriguing decisions, but that is a very complicated topic for another day. Nevertheless, Miami and its people know how to manage change without forgetting our roots.

Downtown as Text

One Building, One Story
Today I went back to 1836. My steps retracing those of leaders, slaves, founders. Our people. Us. This room, a place to hide, a place to sleep, a place to meet, a place to make decisions. Fort Dallas was built to shelter army troops during the Seminole Wars. The Tequesta has already been disseminated, now the Seminoles were being killed and displaced. But with great sorrow came the birth of a thriving city. The area along the Miami River prospered. The land was fertile, the perfect incentive for populating plantations. Fort Dallas sheltered over 100 slaves within its strong walls. I stood there in shock, starting to feel claustrophobic. Unable to imagine how all those slaves managed to accommodate. Once again, the army took over the fort during the Third and final Seminole War. As the village of Miami grew, Fort Dallas became headquarters to Union groups, a post office, a gambling establishment, and served as the first courthouse of Dade County. The Daughters of the American Revolutions held their meetings at Fort Dallas. Rules and decisions for Miami were made in there. The mother of Miami, Julia Tuttle purchased the property in 1891. Upon her death, her son ran a gambling club in Fort Dallas. The historic building was relocated when the land was bought for an apartment building project. Fortunately, there is sits at Lummus Park for all to see. The building that was here through it all. Leaders and decision makers brushed by those very walls I touched. Slaves looked up at the same ceiling I looked at. Soldiers rushed through the same doors I passed through. One building, many purposes, many people, one story.

Deering as Text

My first time at the Deering Estate, I got an exclusive tour of the grounds! Walking through the archealogical sites of the Deering Estate felt like time traveling back all 10,000 years of history that lay beneath our feet. There are 120 acres of preserved pine rocklands in the Deering Estate. This area is one of the few that remain in Florida. The beautiful terrain flourishes with undiscovered species of animals and plants. As we stopped to wait for the class to catch up, I stared at the beautiful landscape before me. It seemed to be straight out of a movie or painting. The pine trees stood tall and proud overlooking our footsteps, as they did of the Paleo-Indians, Tequestas, Seminoles, and all who followed after.

After hiking without any notion of direction and distance, we found home. The Cutler Fossil Site, home to hundreds of discovered fossils. These fossils belong to animals all the way back in the Paleo Era — direwolves and mammoths, also human fossils from those who inhabited the cave. We could see their “bunkbeds” embedded in the walls of the hole. We were home! The foundation of Miami was all inside that very hole in the ground. The future of this beautiful city literally stood inside the past. I felt an energy while holding those artifacts in my bare hands. It was a privilege and it seemed to pass on to me a responsibility. The knowledge, memory, and respect towards our story will carry on through my peers, me, and those who we share it with.

Chicken Key as Text

An absolutely incredible day at Chicken Key! Our class took canoes from the Deering Estate 1 mile to the small island. After 45 minutes of rowing through crystal clear waters (with no cool creatures in sight unfortunately) my partner Nicole Patrick and I arrived. At first glance all we saw were the beautiful mangroves which created what seemed to be a floating island. But as we got closer we noticed unusual spots colors wrapped around the roots.

Chicken Key isn’t visited often, but loads of trash washes up with the current. Boxes, bottles, flip-flops, glasses, hats, buckets, trays, plastic bags, straws, the list goes on and on. Some seemed to have made landfall recently, others were stuck in the ground for way too long. All the cute little hermit crabs struggled to move along the island with so many pesky obstacles in their way. Nicole and I started collecting trash along the coast while circling around in the canoe. Our first find of the day was a huge cardboard box that sat over the roots of the mangroves. We got several ropes that were tangled on the branches. If I had a dollar for every bottle cap I collected, I would probably be able to get another sub for lunch.

When I thought I had seen enough and done my good deed of the day, Nicole incentivised me to keep going. I am so glad I did! We followed Jose Ernesto further and further along the coast. The more we walked, the bigger items he would find. Nicole and I used a larger wooden plank to transport all the trash back into the canoe. There was so much trash everywhere. It is nearly impossible to get it all, but we truly tried our best and cleared up the area pretty well. After filling up the canoe completely, we headed back.

Earlier in the morning I could not fathom the amount of trash that there could be in the small island, much less how much I would be collecting. It was a life-changing experience. My mind opened up. I witnessed first hand the pollution in our oceans. After a couple hours of doing the grunt work, I genuinely appreciate all the work that people have been putting in for years to clean up our beaches. It was my first cleanup, but definitely will not be my last!

Wynwood as Text

Miami is best known for it’s beautiful beaches and lively night-life. For such a diverse city, we lack interest in culture. Fortunately, we have an on-growing art hub in the heart of Miami. Wynwood was an abandoned industrial area that has been developed over the last two decades. Artists established their studios, collectors put their collections on display, chefs opened up shops, art and culture flourished.

This class we visited two incredible collectors’ gallaries: The Margulies Collection and The De la Cruz collection. Not many people know these places exist, especially Miamians. Both collections vast with the works of renowned artists, such as Felix Gonzalez-Torres. At The De la Cruz Collection we saw several of his works. My favorite being the candy pile piece. The piece represented his late father; 175 pounds of his favorite candy — mints. The mints are to be taken and consumed by those who see it. When I picked up a mint I felt as if I was learning a lesson from his father. Carrying on the thought of a person I never met, but that I could compare to my own father.

On our very special tours with the Martin Marguelis and Daniel Clapp at De la Cruz I was most intrigued by their enthusiasm. Both collections are open to the public, with a small to no cost admission fee. They want to share these art pieces that are important to our history and our sense of culture. It was an honor to hear first hand from the collectors themselves about their pride, passion, and art-collecting journey.

HistoryMiami as Text

Where our skyscrapers stand today, 12,000 years ago elephants roamed this flat terrain. Far before the thought of Miami was ever conceived, palm trees flourished, and the underdog never went too far. Similarly, today palm trees are well-known symbols of Miami, and the underdog still never goes too far.

Throughout an exquisite tour at History Miami Museum, our guide and History Miami Educator Maria Moreno, thoughtfully pointed out how often our history is told while excluding crucial information about Native Americans and African Americans. The museum’s main exhibits were installed in the 1980s, when interest in these “forgotten” stories was pretty much zero to none. Thankfully, more and more historians are being able to uncover and share the truth about our past. Recently, the names of 12 slaves who built the Flagler Railroad were discovered! Sure, Henry Flagler had the idea and the funds, but those 12 men shed sweat and blood to turn the network into reality. They are the true Pioneers of Miami.

Much like the Native Americans that eventually formed civilizations and tamed the beasts that ruled these lands, all those who deserve recognition for their part in the foundation of Miami are slowly and steadily making their way into history museums and books where they righteously belong; breaking the white (European) glorification. History Miami Museum has one small frame, right next to the bathroom may I add, on African American Leaders who shaped Miami. Most of the information about these leaders were iterated by Maria, as she determinedly took on the responsibility to make the public aware of such excluded information.

It is time for us to look past what our 8th grade textbooks say. Dive in deeper than the white-washed version of our history and seek the truth. It’s time to pay attention and recognize everyone that is doing something for this city, regardless of race, gender, social status, immigratory status. We cannot let any story be buried and forgotten. It may be difficult to uncover the past, but we can most definitely take care of our future.

Miami Art as Text

This was my first experience at an art fair. As a business student, I was excited to learn about this popular market. As a creator, I was eager for inspiration.

There is no formula to determine the value of art. Who is to say what is good or not? The art market is unbelievably unregulated. Heck, a banana duct-taped to the wall sold for $120,000 twice. It is both amazing and ridiculous. Art is so abstract and preception-sensitive that it is impossible to create rules and guidelines for pricing pieces. As always, there’s the other hand. Just because you are able to charge a gazillion dollars for a paint blotch on a piece of paper do not mean you should. The market is heartless and cold. One wrong move and it is completely over. Once you are all the way up, there’s only one way to go.

Upon entering the ginormous UNTITLED, ART tent I was pleased with the simplicity of the layout. An open concept with clean white walls, which allowed for the artwork to pop. All the vendors looking sharp, and sharply looking at each person that walks in to their booth. Who has the intent and potential to buy? The good vendors know how to make the most money. While great vendors know how to increase awareness. Although the main goal is to sell as many pieces for the best price possible, as Jessie J once said, “It’s not about the money, money, money.” Artists create with a purpose. Whether it is to convey a feeling or share a message, that is the ultimate objective. Several vendors took some time to talk to us (non-potential-customers) about the artworks and projects at their booths. To my luck, Gallery 1957 from Accra, Ghana had just what I needed: inspiration.

Joana Choumali, photographer and mixed media artist, has admirable persistence and determination. While bedridden and physically unable to go photographing as she did, Joana needed to keep busy. She taught herself how to sew so that she could continue making art. Gallery 1957 brought her embroidered photographs nearly 9,000 kilometers. The price of her work was not displayed, but I am sure that Joana would appreciate the 40 students who admired her work and now know her story. I learned that no matter the obstacle, when we have determination to do something, we just have to adapt until we succeed.