For my service project, I worked with the Deering Estate. The Deering Estate is a cultural asset and a historic site located in Miami. One of the biggest focuses of the estate is conservation. With the help of my Professor John W Bailly and Conservation & Research Specialist Vanessa Trujillo, I organized my second cleanup of Chicken Key, which is an island in Biscayne Bay one mile off the shore of the Deering Estate.
My passions in life include volunteering and
traveling, specifically eco-tourism, sustainability, and culture-immersive
experiences. I aspire to make the world a better place by giving my time,
energy, and dedication to the environment and the people that live in it. As a
Hospitality & Tourism Management major, I see myself organizing more
volunteer experiences in the future at a local level also a touristic level.
I have experience in scheduling, volunteering, and
working in teams. In March 2019, I led a group of seven students from FIU in a
service trip to Puerto Rico. We spent our spring break volunteering in various
ways on the island like refurbishing an abandoned school, picking up marine
debris off the beach, and spending an afternoon helping kids with their English
at a Boys & Girls Club. The experience was nothing I could imagine or
predict. It was just incredible.
A quote a recently heard is, “Think global, but act
local.” By hosting these cleanups, I have given others the opportunity to make
an impact on their local community. For this reason, I continue to do the
cleanups. Nothing compares to the feeling of sharing this experience with
How this volunteering opportunity came out is much
different than typical volunteering opportunities. Currently, I am taking my
second course with Professor John W Bailly. As part of his classes, the class
spends a day cleaning up the marine debris off of Chicken Key. I have had the
opportunity to participate in this cleanup twice as his student. When I had
participated this past fall semester, I posted about my experience on social
media, specifically Instagram. A number of my followers were actually
interested in taking part in the cleanup, so I told Professor Bailly. He
encouraged me to create a group of students to cleanup Chicken Key.
I organized my first cleanup on November 10, 2019 and
my second on January 4, 2020.
Where & What
In preparation for the cleanup, I was in communication with Vanessa Trujillo, Conservation & Research Specialist at the Deering Estate, Professor Bailly, and the leads for the cleanup. I shared with them the structure and schedule of the cleanup. For the participants of the cleanup, they were all in the WhatsApp group chat. I use the chat to keep track of the number of people I expect to come.
The original date for the second cleanup was December
21, 2019; however, the weather would not permit for us to have a successful
experience. As a result, I made the decision to post-pone the date of the
cleanup to January 4, 2020. I kept all involved informed, so we did not have any
I created a sign-in sheet for the cleanup because I
did not use one the first time and it caused some issues with canoe-pairings
and volunteer hours. Using the sign-in sheet, I was able to create
canoe-pairings based on canoeing confidence. I also was able to have
information on whether or not everyone needed volunteer hours and their contact
information all in one place.
A week before the cleanup, I began sending reminders to everyone involved that the cleanup was one week away and to start getting prepared. I informed them on the schedule, the attire, and location of the cleanup, so we all knew what to expect. As we got closer, I continued to send updates and information.
The day of the cleanup went very well. We were able to implement the sandbags and we filled 42 of them with trash from Chicken Key. The original structure changed a bit because number of volunteers was less than expected. Nevertheless, the cleanup was very successful and my leads Lily Fonte, Nathalie Sandin, Natalie Brunelle, and Corey Ryan had done a phenomenal job assisting me.
The cleanup occurred on Saturday, January 4, 2020.
With each cleanup, I learn something new whether a
new technique or a more efficient way to organize the cleanups. For January 4th,
I decided to incorporate two new aspects: sandbags and leads.
After researching other cleanups in the area, I
noticed that one cleanup group did not use trash bags for their cleanups.
Instead, they used sandbags. I thought that this is such an efficient idea
because it reduces the amount of waste as they do not use trash bags. It also
gives the opportunity to proper disposal of the debris collected. We used the
sandbags and they worked! We were able to collect the trash without having to
use trash bags. We did not sort what we collected because we were pretty
exhausted from the canoe ride back. To sort the trash, I think I will need to
enlist the help of a second group of volunteers to solely organize it. That
way, I do not exhaust volunteers who start the day. This will be something I
will incorporate in future cleanups.
From my previous cleanup, I realized that I can not
be in all places at once, so for January 4th, I asked help of others
who have previously done the cleanup. This way, they understand and know how
the cleanup works and what Chicken Key looks like. It was very helpful to have
them because they were able to help others and the pressure was not all on me.
I will continue having leads for my future cleanups.
I am currently working with the Deering Estate in
planning my next cleanup, which is exciting. The FIU Honors College even shared
the cleanup on their Instagram page, so I have even more people interested in
My name is Alejandro Ruiz-Paiz and I am currently a sophomore in Florida International University’s Honors College. I am majoring in Accounting, and minoring in Business Analytics, and hope to soon attain my CPA (Certified Public Accountant) license as I head into the public accounting industry. I am a local “Miami-an”, as one could say, as I was born and raised in the city of Miami, Florida. I truly do have an immense love and sense of pride for the city of Miami and hope to one day be able to raise a family of my own in this beautiful city. Despite my great love for Miami, and the fact that I have lived here for 19 years, it is very possible that a tourist that comes to visit the city for a weekend could potentially explore more parts, and learn more of the history of Miami, than I have in my entire span of living here. For this reason, I am glad that, throughout this past semester, I have had the opportunity to take part in the “Miami in Miami” course at Florida International University, where we have explored the city of Miami as tourists and have learned about its culture, history, artwork, flora, fauna, and everything else that Miami has to offer. Furthermore, I have also had the chance to explore a specific neighborhood of Miami and learn about its individual characteristics in relation to the rest of Miami. The neighborhood I chose to explore for my ineffable Miami project was Little Havana and I have documented everything I learned from this incredible experience down below. I want to thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy!
Little Havana is a truly incredible and unique neighborhood different from any other place in the world. It is a place that is filled with infinitely many things to do ranging from shopping, visiting landmarks, walking in scenic areas, exploring the night life, and best of all dining. Little Havana is located near downtown Miami and is split up into Little Havana and East Little Havana. The total squared mileage of Little Havana is roughly 5.74 mi2. Little Havana has a very interesting geographical layout as its northeastern borders are defined by the Miami River. This is a very nice aspect of the neighborhood due to the fact that the river brings about nice places to walk, incredible sceneries, and much tourism. Little Havana ranges from NW 37thAvenue on its western border and is defined by the Miami River and the Interstate 95 Highway on its eastern border (Google Maps). To the north Little Havana is bound by NW 20thStreet and is broken up into three different borders to the south, which include SW 16thStreet, SW 8thstreet, and SW 11thstreet (Google Maps). Of the three southern borders, the most famous of these streets is 8thstreet by far, or as it is commonly known as “Calle Ocho,” which simply refers to the term 8thstreet in Spanish. Calle Ocho, in Little Havana, is an incredibly well-known area that has dozens of different tourist and local attractions such as authentic Cuban cuisines, historical monuments, places for shopping, nice sceneries for walking, and an incredible night life.
Little Havana is filled with many incredible features and a rich history is definitely one of them. When one first thinks of Little Havana, many people immediately associate it with a strong Cuban culture, older people playing dominos in the park, incredible art throughout the walls of the streets, and rooster statues everywhere; and although all these things are very present today, the neighborhood of Little Havana has come a long way towards becoming the vibrant place it is today. The neighborhood of Little Havana first began its transition towards the community which we know today in the late 1950’s when thousands of political exiles arrived in Miami due to the Communist takeover of Cuba. Before the 1960’s, the area where Little Havana lies today, was actually home to primarily Jewish and black communities before the mass wave of Cuban exiles arrived (Vasilogambros 2016). In fact, the Jewish community had a very prominent presence in South Florida for a very long time, and even played a big role in the incorporation of Miami considering the fact that out of all the residents who signed for Miami’s incorporation, 25 of them were Jewish (Baca 2016). Also, in relation to Little Havana, one of Miami’s initial prominent Jewish communities, Shenandoah, was located near present day’s Little Havana (Baca 2016). Shortly after the wave of Cuban immigrants arrived in Little Havana, many other Latin American immigrants also fled their countries in search of safety due to political turmoil in their home countries. For instance, when the communist Sandinista National Liberation Front forced their way into power in Nicaragua in 1979, mass waves of Nicaraguans came to Little Havana in search of safety. Similarly, other Central American countries dealt with alike situations, and in turn, immigrants from Guatemala and Honduras also arrived in little Havana (Vasilogambros 2016). Ever since, Little Havana has been prospering and growing into the vibrant and exciting neighborhood that it is today.
In a similar manner to the rest of Miami, the demographics of Little Havana consisted of a melting pot of people from all over the world. As one would assume, the dominant heritage of the population in Little Havana is of Cuban descent, but there was still a great amount of diversity through the streets. Similar to most other parts of Miami, a majority of the demographics consist of people from Latin countries from all over the world including those such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, Colombia, and a plethora of others as well. Depending on what parts of Little Havana I was near, the demographics would change drastically from place to place. For instance, when I entered the famous Domino Park on Calle Ocho, the main portion of the population consisted of older men of Cuban descent. This is a characteristic which could be highly anticipated because of the fact that the game of dominos is a big part of the Cuban culture. The Domino Park, also known as Máximo Gómez Park, is a very well-known landmark of Calle Ocho that has been around for over 35 years (“Domino Park In Little Havana”). It was originally constructed in 1976, but was later renovated to its current state in 1983 in order to provide the people of Little Havana with nicer amenities for their beloved meeting spot (“Domino Park In Little Havana”). This popular spot has always been a gathering place for local residents to meet up and play games, tell stories, and meet new people. Considering the fact that this is a very popular landmark, the demographics around the park contained a big presence of tourism of people from all around the world admiring the culture and taking pictures with the local murals. Similarly, a big presence of tourism was also seen near many of the clothing and gift shops where people can find nice souvenirs to remember their time in Miami. Lastly, another big demographic that can be found in the streets of Calle Ocho, in Little Havana, is young adults who go for the night life. With popular bars such as “Ball and Chain” and “El Santo”, it is very common to see young men and women roaming the streets who are headed to one of these many popular spots in search of having a fun night out in the town in Miami. In fact, while in Little Havana I interviewed a young man in order to gain knowledge about the demographics and learn about a specific individual’s story and why he was there. The young man I interviewed was named Miguel and he was from Miami, but his family was of Venezuelan descent. Having many friends and family members that are from Venezuela, I was able to spark up very interesting and fun conversations with this complete stranger I just met, and I found this to be a very nice reflection of the people who visit Little Havana as many of the people I met and observed all seemed very friendly and genuinely enjoying their day. I learned that Miguel was heading to the popular bar, “Ball and Chain,” to meet up with some friends and have a good time.
Little Havana is home to dozens of notable landmarks that represent all sorts of concepts ranging from history, entertainment, comedy, and culture. The landmarks that can be found in Little Havana are primarily in the form of monuments, or sculptures, and art. One of the primary monuments in Little Havana is the Bay of Pigs Monument that is located on 8thstreet and 13thavenue. This monument was made in dedication to the lives that were lost at the attempted Bay of Pigs Invasion that took place on April 17, 1961 (“The Bay of Pigs Invasion Begins” 2009). The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an attempt by US-sponsored Cuban refugees to take down Fidel Castro’s communist government, but it was a complete failure. The soldiers were met by unexpected counterattacks from Fidel Castro’s Military, and from that moment were completely overpowered, and as a result “over 100 of the attackers were killed, and more than 1,100 were captured” (“The Bay of Pigs Invasion Begins” 2009). The names of the fallen soldiers are engraved on the monument, and at the top of the monument lies an eternal flame.
A mass presence of artistic expression is seen all throughout Little Havana and is truly a big factor that contributes to the vibrant and unique culture that Little Havana encompasses. Some of the other landmarks that Little Havana has to offer come in many forms. For instance, a very well known trademark of Little Havana is the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame. In similar fashion to the much more famous walk of fame that can be found in Los Angeles, California, this walk of fame consists of stars that are engraved in the sidewalks, and these stars include names of influential figures that have relation to South Florida or the Hispanic culture in general. Some famous names that can be found on the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame include Thalia, Celia Cruz, and Gloria Estefan. Another famous landmark of Little Havana, and this is truly my personal favorite, is the roosters of Calle Ocho. All along Calle Ocho, in Little Havana, one can find many rooster sculptures that are located outside of different establishments and restaurants. These sculptures have truly become a notable trademark of Little Havana as they genuinely create a fun culture and environment throughout the streets. All of the roosters are painted and decorated in different manners to represent different things. For instance, most of the roosters are located in front of individual establishments, and are therefore decorated to promote or represent these businesses, such as the rooster located in fron of The Havana Shirt Store is decorated with the traditional Cuban Guayabera style shirt. Most of the roosters don’t depict the artist’s names sadly, but I was able to find one that was located outside of an antiques shop that included the name of the artist on the platform of the sculpture. The artist who created that specific rooster is named Jackie Sarracino, and the name of that art piece was “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” and it was created in 2013. Also, a personal experience that I found to be quite funny was that while exploring Little Havana, I ran into real roosters in the streets and believed that it would be a shame if I didn’t document it and share it here as well. Lastly, other trademarks of Little Havana come in the form of art in many different ways. If walking through the streets of Little Havana, one would see endless amounts of murals and paintings all through the walls of different buildings. These paintings represent all sorts of things ranging from politics to simple comedy. One painting that has become very popular over the years is a painting of the famous singer Pitbull, who is truly an icon in the neighborhood of Little Havana because that is where he grew up. Pitbull, popularly known as Mr. 305 because of the area code of Miami, is a true inspiration for the people of Little Havana as he is an individual that was able to make it big in the industry and never forgot his roots and where he came from. Other paintings throughout the streets have a big presence of sexuality, and I found this to be quite normal due to the fact that sexuality is always considered to be a big part of the stereotype of what Miami is like. All in all, art has an incredible impact on the culture of Little Havana and it plays a big part in making Little Havana what it truly is today.
Green spaces within Little Havana are relatively limited as much of the neighborhood is packed with construction of both residential and commercial buildings. Along the streets of Calle Ocho, in Little Havana, greenery is very rare and is primarily seen through trees that are planted all along the sidewalks, but it is not common to see large plots of open grass. The only park located in this area is the Domino Park, or Máximo Gómez Park, but it doesn’t contain any real greenspace apart from tiny plots of grass and several trees. Throughout the rest of Little Havana there are several parks, but they are mostly located in the region of East Little Havana near the Miami River, such as Riverside Park, Jose Marti Park, and Sewell Park. I believe that this is something that Little Havana should possibly attempt to work towards by providing more parks and greenspaces near the residential areas. Parks are important factors of neighborhoods that allow kids to roam around, make friends, and exercise freely, and they also allow adults to get fresh air and enjoy nature when possibly needing to take their minds away from their busy lives.
The notorious Miami traffic rings true in little Havana as it does in most other parts of Miami as well. Transportation within Little Havana primarily consists of automobiles in the streets as there is very limited options for public transportation. Options for public transportation within Little Havana include the public bus system and a relatively limited trolley system. The Miami Trolley runs a route within Little Havana, but it only covers a small portion of the neighborhood. The trolley covers the entire span of Little Havana from the East to West aspect, but it only ranges between Calle Ocho and West Flagler street in the North to South aspect (“Public Transportation Web Tracker”). These limited options for public transportation make it difficult for people to rely on them, and due to this, the simplest mode of transportation is simply driving oneself or using transportation methods such as Uber or Lyft.
The public transportation system in Miami as a whole is a wicked problem due to the fact that not enough locals actually use the public transportation system enough for them to be economically beneficial. The city is not able to continuously work to improve the public transportation system if they will not be sufficiently used. I personally understand the difficulties as well because of the fact that I rarely ever find myself using public transportation within Miami, and that is sadly the case for a majority of the people that I know that live in Miami as well. There are many benefits that could arise from higher usage rates of public transportation systems such as lowering our carbon footprint and traffic alleviation, so I definitely do hope that our city can one day find a solution towards making Miami a more public transportation-friendly city. The image above was a picture I captured that perfectly depicted the Miami traffic in a nutshell. I truly enjoy this picture because it was a very funny site to see at the time when I took this picture of how one guy was able to cause about three blocks worth of traffic hold-up. This picture depicts a very large bus that was attempting to cross lanes, but got stuck for some reason, and wound up blocking the three entire lanes of traffic. Thankfully, the driver was able to quickly get out of the situation and allow the flow of traffic to keep moving, but it truly showed how it takes something so menial to cause so much traffic in the streets of Miami.
Food is one of the most important topics of conversation when talking about Little Havana, and Miami as a whole. Cuban cuisine is a massive staple of the Miami culture and is definitely something that is very present amongst all restaurants and businesses that you see all throughout the city. Assessing the food of Little Havana was definitely one of the parts I was looking forward to the most during this assignment and it definitely lived up to expectations. While exploring Little Havana, I ate at a small family-owned business called Mercado Havana Daily Café. This restaurant was truly one of the most unique restaurants I had ever seen because of the fact that it was not simply a restaurant, but in fact was a restaurant, a grocery store, a bakery, and a bar all at once. Prior to walking in, I did not know that it was going to be anything more than a restaurant, but it was truly a very cool surprise. The market in the back of the restaurant contained many grocery store items, but the interesting part was that these goods were items that are commonly found in Hispanic countries, but are rare to find here in America. The shelves contained all sorts of untraditional brands that are not well known here, but are beloved my many people in other countries. The Mercado Havana Daily Café truly does an incredible service by doing this because many times people can’t get a hold of specific goods that are common in their home countries unless they take a trip and bring them back to their homes here in Miami. For instance, my mom was born in Nicaragua and one of her favorite perfumes growing up is one that she has never been able to find here in the states, so every time a family member visits Nicaragua, she always asks that they bring back some perfume for her. At the restaurant, I ordered a breakfast plate which included eggs, fries, ham, a tostada (buttered bread), and a café con leche (coffee with milk) and I truly enjoyed every part of the meal and it was an incredibly cheap price as well.
A major staple of the Cuban culture is the Cuban coffee and it can be found in almost every authentic Cuban restaurant. A very popular trademark that many restaurants and cafes have throughout Little Havana, is that they have small windows, or “ventanitas,” outside of the restaurant where customers simply walk up and order their food without having to go into the restaurant. This idea is similar to that of drive-throughs, but it is unique because one still has to get down instead of driving through. The most common items that are ordered at these windows are usually Cuban coffees or small bakery pastries such as empanadas and croquetas. The most popular forms of Cuban coffee are the cortadito, colada, and café con leche and these are all types of espressos. One of the restaurants in Little Havana that had this small window was called La Esquina de La Fama. La Esquina de La Fama has become a minor landmark in Little Havana due to its unique exterior design that is filled with artifacts that display the traditional Cuban culture and also due to its eye-catching colors of the building which are red and green. Furthermore, they also have live bands playing traditional Cuban music in the restaurant which truly gives the restaurant a unique experience. I truly love the video that I was able to capture of the environment at La Esquina de La Fama because I feel like it truly encapsulates the stereotype of what Miami is like, which is eating Cuban food, partying, and dancing all at the same time. Lastly, another food establishment that has become very popular over the years due to its eccentric and eye-catching design on the outside of its building is the Azucar Ice Cream Company. Azucar does a great job at reeling you into the ice cream parlor with the extravagant ice cream sculpture that is on the front of the building, but they also do a great job at making sure you come back by providing incredible ice creams and sorbets in traditional Cuban tropical flavors such as mamey, mango, and avocado.
Unique businesses and family owned shops can be found in every direction you look within Little Havana. This was an aspect that I truly appreciated about this neighborhood because of the fact that family businesses are relatively rare in Miami, as almost everything is run by massive chain businesses and high-end stores. One of the unique businesses which I found really interesting was the Little Havana Cigar Factory. Cigars have a big presence in the Cuban culture, so it definitely was not a big surprise to find a cigar shop in Little Havana. This cigar shop was particularly cool because they not only had hundreds of cigars of all types of models and brands, but they also produced their own cigars right there in the shop. There was a man who was sitting at a table in the store making cigars from scratch and that was truly an incredible sight to see. I never had truly put thought to the process of making cigars, before seeing it being done in front of, and after that I gained a great respect for the art of cigar making. Cuban Cigars are amongst the most popular cigars around the world, so it was definitely a cool site to see authentic cigars being made right in front of me. Another unique business which I was very intrigued by was The Havana Shirt Store. In this store, they specialized in selling authentic Cuban clothing and specifically guayaberas, which were a main item in the store. Guayaberas are traditional Cuban shirts for men that are usually made out of linen or cotton, generally are short sleeve button downs, and almost always have front pockets. Apart from guayaberas, The Havana Shirt Store also had lots of traditional Cuban clothing for women as well. Considering the fact that both of these items, cigars and guayaberas, are staples in the Cuban culture, there are several other shops similar to these located all around Little Havana, such as D Asis Guayaberas, The Havana Collection, Sentir Cubano, Havana Classic Cigar, and Art District Cigars (Google Maps).
Overall, Little Havana truly is like no other neighborhood in the world as it is filled with endless amounts of culture, art, history, life, and so much more. Prior to this project, I had been to Little Havana hundreds of times, but I had truly never experienced Little Havana like I did this time around. Interacting with the locals, analyzing things like the history and geography, and trying new places for food that I normally wouldn’t try all truly added up to an incomparable experience that one cannot attain by simply driving by the neighborhood. I was able to see Little Havana in a new light and I have genuinely gained a deeper love and understanding for this incredible neighborhood. Many aspects of Little Havana work very well for the neighborhood, while there are also several things that can definitely be improved on. I believe that there are endless amounts of things that work incredibly for the neighborhood and play a big role in making Little Havana what it is today, such as the entrepreneurship of small businesses and non-chain restaurants, the incredible landmarks, the mass presence of art, and above all, the incredible people that live in and visit this great neighborhood. On the other hand, there are serval aspects of the neighborhood that could potentially be improved on in some ways, such as bettering the public transportation systems and creating more greenspaces and parks throughout the neighborhood. All in all, I have truly gained a great love for the neighborhood of Little Havana and am thankful that I chose this location for my project. Little Havana is just one neighborhood out of the dozens that exist within Miami, and thinking about the fact that so many other neighborhoods offer just as much culture and history as Little Havana does, has finally brought me to the realization that Miami cannot be described in words that would truly do it justice, and therefore is genuinely ineffable.
I have been working with Kiskeya Community Services and my church for well over 5 years. I have poured my heart and soul into my work with the community, and the ability to serve is something that I don’t take for granted. This semester, I adopted a special project through this organization, and that was organizing outside help and resources to provide to the large homeless community here in Miami. It was difficult. Finding funding is near impossible, and people don’t really want to help or aren’t able to help. Thankfully, there are still good people with amazing hearts out there who were more than willing to help with our project and were able to contribute in an incredible way.
Simple action isn’t enough when there is no passion behind it. Emotion usually drives my more passionate projects, and feeding the less fortunate is one thing, but sitting with them to share and hear their stories is another. Like most, yes, I do see how blessed I am to have a roof over my head and stability in my life, but it is incredible how one slight change can flip someone’s life upside down. One misstep and everything you loved is now gone. I am passionate about this project because it has served as a stepping stone for someone to go out in the world and to do for others. In serving, I realized two things- one, I am so very lucky to be doing this, and two, I wish my heart was more like them. A homeless village is a true community. If one person cannot get up, then someone else brings the supplies to them. If someone is sick, someone else will come and ask for medications or anything we can give to make them feel better. The opportunity was presented to me at 16, and I don’t regret accepting it. Working for the community is something that often makes me deeply reflective and I realize how fortunate I am to have the chance to serve each and everyday.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
“Alice C. Wainwright Park in Coconut Grove, FL.” In Coconut Grove, FL, https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/thing-to-do/parks-recreation/alice-c-wainwright-park/2983?category=30.
Brown, Sierra. “The Best Restaurants In Coconut Grove, Miami.” Culture Trip, The Culture Trip, 26 Nov. 2015, https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/florida/articles/the-9-best-restaurants-in-coconut-grove-miami/.
Derlise is a senior majoring in International Business with a certificate in
International Trade and Investment at Florida International University. After
graduation, she plans on pursuing a career in supply chain and operation. She
will be the first one in her family to graduate college. She loves adventure,
traveling, reading, and dancing. She is also very passionate about helping
children, especial the orphans because she believes that they are the future.
Her long-term goal is to build schools and orphanages in third world
World Erotic Art Museum (WEAM) is located on Washington Avenue and 12th Street
on the second floor of the Wilzig building, and there is a Starbucks on the
first floor. On Washington Avenue, around the museum, there are a few night
clubs and few restaurants. The wolf museum is one block north from the WEAM.
The WEAM is at a five minutes’ walk from the beach makes it very accessible to
the public. People can explore the museum after hanging out on the beach or before
clubbing at night. The Weam is well situated; consider tourist flight from all
over to visit South Beach.
Erotic Art Museum, located on Washington and 12th street, in Miami, was founded
by Naomi Wilzig in 2005 after her son, Ivan Wilzig, started decorating his
apartment with erotic art. Naomi Wilzig, who was the widow of Siggi Wilzig, a
holocaust survivor, was originally a fine antique collector who knew nothing of
erotic art. Seeing the potential for the art genre, she spent 15 years
traveling the world searching high and low for the pieces that would make up
the greatest erotic art collection. Her travels took Wilzig to many countries
in Asia, Europe, Africa, and beyond and led to many discoveries. Her
discoveries included but were not limited to fertility amulets in Greece and
Egypt to a 25 pound naturally occurring geode in Brazil that is shaped as
penis, to the shunga books which are written prints of sexual acts that were
rumored to have been used for instructional materials for newlywed nobles in
the 17th to 19th centuries. Wilzig faced a considerable uphill battle to find a
suitable location to showcase her collection. Many cities from St. Petersburg
to other cities did not greenlight the creation of the museum stating that it
was too similar to adult entertainment. The main reasoning for the thought of
adult entertainment stems from the extreme amount of puritanical beliefs within
our country. Erotic art and depictions are considered to be extremely rescued
and inappropriate by many, especially when seen outside of the privacy of one’s
dwelling. As a result of the U.S.’s religious views, the World Erotic Art
Museum (WEAM) is the only major collection of erotic art outside of the Erotic
Heritage Museum in Las Vegas. Willig did not allow that to define her work as
Miami opened to be accepting of her work. The Washington area is a great place
for the WEAM as it hosts a large nightlife scene attracting a more open crowd
This mission of WEAM is simple; it is “We collect, preserve and present works
of erotic art of the highest quality from diverse cultures. We embrace our
responsibility to engage and educate our community, to contribute to cultural
knowledge and erotic art history.”. The purpose of the museum is not only to
collect works of erotic art, but to also educate the community on the history
and future of erotic works as well as why it is important to have erotic works
of art. With today’s society lacking the knowledge and accepting the culture,
the need of WEAM promoting and teaching the history and importance of erotic
art is an important step towards a future where more museums and locations can
showcase erotic art.
The WEAM is located inside of the WILZIG Museum
building. The admission desk is on the first floor in the lobby. The only to
get to the museum is through the elevator, which is 100 feet from the front
desk. Only those 18 years or over are allowed in the museum. There are no
special discounts for students, military, seniors, and residents at the WEAM.
The museum does not have a membership program. The museum has monthly special
events to give free access to the public. General Admission – $20
There is a
combination ticket rate to encourage more people to visit the George Daniel
Ticket – $25
Ticket for Students, Military, Seniors (+60) – $18
The WEAM has different artist from all over the world in a collection. Some of
the most important collections are The Realism, The P and P, and Native North
WEAM has different artists from all over the world in a collection. Some of the
most important collections are Realism, The P and P, and Native North America.
The Realism collection has T Watson – American Artist – bronze polychromed sculpture c. 2000 and Franz Dietz–
oil on canvas.
Franz Dietz, the artist, paints women entangled with one
another in a vertical pillar-like structure. The pile of bodies seems
disorganized and unintentional, however within the chaos is order. Each woman
is vital in maintaining the integrity of the structure.
Watson sculptures depict a central theme:
self exploration and sensual femininity. Masturbation often has a negative
stigma attached to the act in western cultures. This artists creates liberty in
self expression through these sculptures.
and P Collection consist of unknown artists.
Vagina wall- imagine entering a home and seeing this work
hanging on someone’s wall. There is something definitely remarkable about it:
firstly, the shape of the piece is not on the usual square or rectangle canvas.
It’s in the oblong shape of the vulva. The wall depicts the true uniqueness of
a woman’s genitalia. Each one looks blatantly different from the other, which
adds an air of personification and relatability.
Gold sparkly- the
artist intertwines ‘glitz n’ glam’ with smut. This figure is bedazzled with
jewels that make it look quite expensive. It’s a paradox that challenges the
mind, and it’s conditioning to social norms.
Display case of dildos-
Looking at this display case of dildos is almost like window shopping for shoes
or jewelry at a mall. The case has a plethora of varieties ranging from a dildo-banana
to a mug with a penis as the spout. The setup of these sex toys and trinkets
normalizes the exhibition of inanimate sex objects.
Native North America
figurines- the ultimate display of male fertility is shown via these wood
carvings. They seem to have the same origin (even though some sculptures were
found in central/South America while others were found in Africa) because more
than half of the figures had exaggerated genitalia often extending to the
ground. These male figurines are the counterparts to the well-known Venus
Figurines dating to the Neolithic era, whose robust features represent female
fertility and vitality.
the exhibitions at the World Erotic Art Museum are permanent.
The World Erotic Art
Museum has several informational events from how to talk to your kids about
porn to how to lick a vagina.
Sketchy Nudes: is a monthly event where students from
different drawing levels come to WEAM for a figure drawing class with a live
nude model. Students usually receive critics from a well-known artist.
Yoga for better sex: is a yoga class taught by sexologist and
yoga instructor Sonjia Kenya. The class combines aspects of yoga strategies to
provide a secure place for learners to connect to their inner sensual
Tea & sex is a
monthly event where people come together for a roundtable discussion to explore
a variety of topics related to human sexuality.
with a first-time visitor named Shania at the WEAM
Q1 “What made you
visit the World Erotic Art today?”
I came to the museum
to explore more outside of what my parents told. Growing up, sex was not hidden
from me, unlike other people. I know a lot of parents do not talk to their kids
Q2 “What is your
I like Chinese Art
because it looks like a cradle to a temple.
Q3 “Do you remember
anything you read from the labels?”
I was trying to
memorize the wooden sculptures of African Art, but most of the artist’s names
and origins were unknown.
Q4 “What comments do
you have on the museum?”
I like it, and I am
glad that I came. There are a lot of pieces from different places, and I have
never seen a sexual art from an African tribe. I like the layout because it’s
not too confusing. One thing I don’t like is that the museum didn’t provide
enough information. Anything they could have provided should have been
provided. It would be nice to know where certain arts came from.
Q5 “How would you
describe the most memorable part of your visit today?”
I walked in and the
shock of seeing everything. I know it’s an erotic museum, and I was expecting
to see them — the shock and slowly getting used to being comfortable in the
Q6 “If you could
describe the collections in one word, what would it be?
I would say notable,
but that is not enough to describe them. The collections are unforgettable and
remarkable. They will definitely be engraved in my memory.
interview with the WEAM manager Geovanny.
Q1 “What inspired you
to manage the museum?”
I knew the collector;
I grew up with her, and I understand the significance of her collection. To
open a museum like this, one requires the right person, second the financial
means to do it. Having those two combines is a lifetime opportunity. In another
word, she’s my inspiration.
Q2 “What do you like
most about working here?”
The diversity of the
people who come to visit from all over the world.
Q3 “What does the
museum represent to you?”
What it means to mean,
I understand the significance of her collection, and I want to change the
public outlook on erotic art. I don’t think there’s a definitive line between
erotism and porn. A good example is in Europe, a woman being topless is not a
big thing, but also you can see a commercial with topless people and here in
the U.S. is different. I don’t understand why, but I know it has a lot to do
with the church.
Q4 “As a manager, what
is your goal for the WEAM?”
There is no authority
to differentiate art and porn. Our goal is to be the authority; the FCC can
come to us for guidelines on porn and erotic art. We also want to educate the
public so they can know that this museum is all about art and not porn.
When walking into the
World Erotic Art Museum, one can find itself in either an awkward position or a
shocking moment. Awkward since some believe that erotic art is pornography, and
the arts at the WEAM are very explicit so they could easily be categorized as
porn. I enjoyed walking through the museum, seeing art from different times and
countries. I could have enjoyed it more if there was more information on the
artist or the art itself. It was hard to find someone to help with questions;
the staffs are not accessible. I like their events because they are very
informational, and they are helping us change our perception of erotic art,
sex, and porn.
On the third Sunday of every month, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami hosts Family Day, where parents and their kids are invited to make art and partake in different activities. I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer in the December edition of Family Day! The day started at 10am with a brief tour of the staff-exclusive areas of the museum, and we then gathered supplies and set up all the necessary preparations for the event. We were assigned to one of four tents, each with a different activity. My tent was “Hand in Hand,” where kids and their parents trace their hand on construction paper, write a descriptive word on it, and tape it onto a wall, culminating in a free-form poem by the end.
This experience gave me much-needed practice in interacting with people. I was admittedly scared before the families started coming in, but the event was a lot more light-hearted and casual than I expected. Shortly after beginning, I was already comfortable enough to greet the families with a smile and explain the activity. The staff were also extremely nice people, and participated in the events with us. I am lucky to have had this opportunity at ICA Miami, and I am truly considering returning another month!
After the reception of the new exhibition
of Cecilia Vicuna and Alice Rahon that was on the 5th of December. I
had the privilege of working alongside of some of the staff at MOCA in the education
department for three consecutive days. I worked alongside Amanda Covach, the Curator
of Education, Agatha Wright, the Education Programs Coordinator, Jonelle Martin,
the Development Coordinator and Justin Martin, the Development Coordinator.
For the first two days I helped Agatha
Wright with paperwork for the Teen Art Force, which happens weekly. The Teen Art Force is a free art program which
is funded by the City of North Miami for young people ages 13 to 17 from 4pm to
6pm. Each day consist of different activities. For example, Monday- fashion x textile
design, Tuesday- drawing x portfolio development, Wednesday- Media x Mixed Sculpture,
Thursday- Print Making and Friday- Art Journalism x Photography. Each young
person first needs to sign up before attending each class and what I did was decode
their contact information on a separate piece of paper and honestly, I could not
have understood some of the students’ handwriting. However, I tried my best to
make sure I get them right. Agatha Wright, who collects the sign-up form of the
students stressed the importance of each student sign up and making sure the
contact information is right. Not only is their information is needed to stay
in contact but also proof of young people’s participation in the weekly
After the students signed up, they
now have a sign in sheet for each class they attend. I helped with alphabetizing
and organizing the students’ sign in sheet for each class they attend and kept
record of how many classes one person attended. What I wish I knew sooner was
this program that was happening, I would have volunteered weekly there helping
the students and also gain skills from the classes. Agatha Wright is now preparing
for the Winter Art Camp, which is from December 23 to January 3 and is mostly gerd
for kids from 7 and older.
Fortunately, I understood why it is
important for communities especially young people to support their local museum
and participate in events. In turn, they reap the benefits by finding their
passion in art and staying out of trouble. MOCA is very important in the City
of North Miami, as many schools do not have after school art program for young persons
or maybe underfunded. MOCA aims, as its
mission states, “The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is dedicated to making
contemporary art accessible to diverse audiences – especially underserved
populations – through the collection, preservation and exhibition of the best
of contemporary art and its art historical influences.” – MOCA.org. This is
extremely applaudable as they have many events for young people and the more
students participated the more funds the museum receive.
On the third and final day, I
worked with the media team, though I did not do any graphic design or anything
with media; I did computer work from the exhibition reception that was on December
5th. Going through, checking off and organizing the list of persons
who attended plus their guests was tiring, however it’s amazing the sheer number
of people who are visited to new receptions. I got to learn how they plan
events and sent invitations to guests for receptions for new exhibitions.
My overall experience at MOCA was positive
and I got to see what goes on behind planning events and programs that make the
community participate and visit the museum more. The staff were really friends and I have made
friends with everyone I worked with. Though MOCA is not a big museum, it is very
welcoming of everyone and aims to display contemporary art of diverse artists
to a diverse community. What I like most about the staff is they really care
about the students of the city and try to make sure that each young person
attend programs even with financial issues. I would say MOCA is my favorite museum I
visited thus far, and I fell in love with the new exhibition I saw each day I was
My name is Javi Fernandez. I’m a sophomore currently pursuing a B.A. in Math Education. I’m not sure what I want to do in the future, but I am interested in being a high school math teacher. I’ve always liked math and been enveloped in pure academia, but in the past year I’ve gotten into many creative outlets I previously had little experience in, like poetry, music, and visual art.
The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami is located at 61 NE 41 St., in the Design District of Wynwood. The Design District, as the name implies, is very modern and artistic, and is the primary location for many museums and collections of Miami. Conveniently, across the street from ICA Miami is the Museum Garage, so parking is never an issue.
ICA Miami began as an offshoot of the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. A dispute with the city beginning in 2014 over the right to move led to a property settlement that birthed ICA Miami from selected works of the MOCA. In late 2017, ICA Miami opened at last in a building previously belonging to the de la Cruz family.
The museum’s mission, from their website, is in “promoting continuous experimentation in contemporary art, advancing new scholarship, and fostering the exchange of art and ideas throughout the Miami region and internationally.”
ICA Miami has exceptional accessibility. Most importantly, admission is free all year round. Notably, the ICA has an extremely large elevator that fits well over 30 people, and accomodates wheelchair users very properly. Wheelchair users also have no trouble getting in and out of the building. Additionally important is the inclusion of gender-neutral bathrooms. There are also programs for kids and adults of all ages.
The membership options are very enticing for anyone. Memberships offer a variety of benefits, and an individual membership, already a measly $50 a year, cuts down to $30 for students, educators, artists, and members of the military. The individual membership includes a 20% discount at the ICA Miami shop, free parking all over the Design District, exclusive discounts at select retailers and restaurants, reserved seating at all ICA Public Programs, and more. The dual membership, offered specially to parents, include all the benefits of the individual membership for the same price per person ($100/year) as well as special access to family events and discounts for education workshops. The most popular membership, for good reason, is the ICA Next membership. For $365/year (or $1 a day!) one can receive all the benefits of the individual membership with the added bonus of invitations to gallery visits, studio tours, special programs, and VIP Opening Cocktail Receptions for major exhibitions, free admission and discounts at nearly 700 museums across the country as part of the North American Reciprocal Museum program, and Modern and Contemporary Reciprocal privileges for over 60 contemporary museums. If that isn’t enough, members also receive VIP access to select Miami Art Fairs!
If you’re a wealthy enthusiastic supporter of ICA Miami, there are membership options for you too! The Patron level for $1000/year offers all the benefits of the ICA Next membership as well as a complimentary gift Dual membership, recognition on the Donor Wall in the museum, and invitations to exclusive events such as private collection viewings, artist studio yours, Donor Circle programming during Miami Art Week, and special programs with ICA curators and artists. Furthermore, Patrons are given the opportunity to join the Patron Council and attend the annual Patron dinner. The Benefactor Level for $2500/year offers all the benefits of the Patron level plus a personal tour of the museum with an ICA curator or educator. The Director membership for $5000/year reaps all the benefits that come with being a Benefactor, as well as exclusive opportunities to participate in art-centric travel opportunities with ICA Miami’s Artistic Director, priory notice for Enchanted Evenings, and invitations to Director Circle receptions outside of Miami. Lastly, the aptly named Visionary membership for $10,000/year offers the incredible benefit of being able to reserve the museum for a private event, as well as one complimentary copy of a newly released ICA Miami publication, and invitations to even more exclusive events such as the ICA Miami Donor Circle Dinner.
ICA Miami has nearly 100 pieces in its permanent collection, the majority of which seem to be in storage as Sterling Ruby’s two-floor exhibit is on display. Most notable, currently, are Dan Flavin’s trademark fluorescent lights. The museum also touts permanent pieces from acclaimed artists such as Ana Mendieta, Sterling Ruby, Rita Ackermann, and Hernan Bas.
The most noteworthy aspect of ICA Miami is the expansive two-floor exhibition “Sterling Ruby.” Open from Nov 7, 2019 to Feb 2, 2020, this massive retrospective showcases brilliantly the varied works of mid-career artist Sterling Ruby. Over 100 of Ruby’s works are represented across these two floors, including collages, ceramics, drawings, and installations of all sorts of materials from steel to denim to spray paint. One may think it excessive to have two floors dedicated to a single artist, but Ruby’s pieces are so diverse that there is not a shred of redundancy across the exhibition.
The first floor has its fair share of interesting exhibitions. One of the first things you may see upon entering ICA Miami is Robert Goder’s 1978-2000, a series of 22 photographs and collages that surround the harrowing untitled piece in the center of the room; a sewer grate with a body in it. On display from Dec 3, 2019, Wong Ping’s “The Modern Way To Shower” is an absurd and provocative phone screen recording of Ping commissioning a livestream of a latex-clad woman from the deep web. A few steps forward and you are presented with Carlos Sandoval de Leon’s massive untitled mixed-media installation, taking the form of a giant cylindrical hollow shelf. One can spend hours staring and deciphering this exhibition, as it is filled with many objects portraying a certain imagery left to the viewer to piece together.
ICA Miami has a variety of special programs open to the public. One of the most popular events is Family Day, held on the third Sunday of every month. This event invites families and their kids to enjoy hours of creating art together in fun and engaging activities.
The museum also offers programs for middle school, high school, and college students. The Young Artist Initiative is an 18-week after school program for high school artists to analyze and create art. Students are also provided opportunities to work with leading artists, acquire scholarships and internships, and attend Art Basel. For 7th and 8th graders, the museum offers a two week summer course entitled Portfolio Prep for Academic Art Programs dedicated to helping students to prepare for magnet and charter schools. Lastly, for undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate students, ICA Miami offers paid internships in both education and exhibition records upkeep.
Also available at ICA Miami are several programs dedicated to promoting discussion about art. ICA Performs invites performance artists to present their works at the museum. ICA Speaks partners with artists from their permanent collection to speak at ICA. ICA Ideas invites acclaimed artists to discuss with an audience about their artworks, ushering in a new method of interacting with the art beyond simply viewing. Lastly, ICA Residents sees the museum collaborate with up and coming organizations to host projects and events.
Reia Drucker, 19, visited the museum with her boyfriend on recommendation from a friend. Being a computer science major, she has had relatively little experience with contemporary art, but nonetheless enjoyed her brief excursion to the museum, and expressed an interest in returning. She particularly liked the works of Sterling Ruby’s Mapping series (which reminded her of graph theory), and the Wong Ping installation “The Modern Way To Shower.” She admitted having no knowledge of any of the programs offered at the ICA, which she attributed to lack of proper advertising.
What is your name and what do you do at the ICA?
Itzel Basualdo. Youth Programs Coordinator. I am responsible for recruiting interns and volunteers, but primarily I am in charge of two youth programs at the museum. I am a teacher and mentor, if you will, for teenagers who are enthusiastic about art and are interested in furthering their skills and knowledge of contemporary art.
How long have you been employed with the ICA?
What is the best part of the job to you?
Interacting with talented and bright teenagers. Seeing life through their eyes through the art they make.
What drew you to work at the ICA?
I was looking for a job that would keep me close to my interests (art, art, art). I’ve never had my own class — I was a teaching assistant throughout grad school, and considered teaching at the undergraduate level after completing my studies, but felt nervous about the prospect of teaching undergrads because of our little to no difference in age. The ICA position, besides keeping me close to my passion, seemed like the perfect blend of all the “professional” skills I’d acquired along the way: event management, some teaching, curating an exhibition, etc.
What is your favorite exhibit/piece currently?
Carlos Sandoval de León. I didn’t grow up knowing of artists whose background was anything like my own, and by that I mean first gen, who grew up in Miami, immigrant, Mexican American. Carlos’ work reflects a genius to curating and altering found materials to reveal alternative meanings, these being specific to his identity. I really recommend everyone check it out and spend some time with the installation, which is scattered with visual poems for one to decipher (or not).
How well do you think the ICA succeeds in its mission, and at being accessible?
ICA is free, which is really great and technically anyone can enter! We have an excellent visitor services staff that’s extremely knowledgeable on all the art, and all you have to do is ask. However, I think there are other less evident boundaries that keep just anyone from entering the institution. We are located in an enclave of luxury businesses that draws in a very specific audience. Visitors aren’t often told that the visitors services staff is trained and are a treasure trove of information that they can ask questions regarding the works. I’m not sure how conscious the museum is of its geography serving as a gatekeeper, and I’m personally looking through increasing our audience through my youth programming. I’m trying to attract students passionate about the arts from neighboring non-magnet school programs.
The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami is a very well-rounded museum. The diverse Sterling Ruby exhibition leaves nothing to be desired, and the interesting works on the first floor, currently ranging from lights to video to multimedia installations, are very enthralling and offer the attendee a chance at introspectiveness. The museum ranks excellently in accessibility, providing gender-neutral bathrooms, spacious elevators, and guided audio tours both via app and through venue-provided headphones. The membership options are a must for any fan of the museum as well: from shop discounts to free parking, the Individual or Next memberships are more than worth it and entice you to return to see more of what ICA has to offer in the future. My sole nitpick with the ICA is with their advertising, particularly with their special programs on their website. The ICA Miami website does not explicitly describe the details of their Ideas, Residents, Performs, and Speaks programs, instead providing a well-meaning but vague mission statement for each one. However, Family Day is an amazing event that does wonders for families, kids, volunteers, and the museum itself. Itzel Basualdo, the Youth Programs Coordinator, does her best to break all barriers by visiting schools around the area to promote ICA Miami’s events. The staff are amazing people who truly do their best to see the museum flourish. ICA Miami is unquestionably one of the best museums I have ever been to.
My name is Rebeka Josil and I am a junior majoring in Biology at Florida International University. I am new to the world of art, and so I decided to indulged myself into it, with the hopes of fulfilling my curiosity of it. I love the outdoors and my favorite hobbies are camping, swimming, and hiking. I view nature as art, and I want to be able to relate what I’ve learn in class in the real world. I also love learning about the human body, and it is completely fascinated as well. I love learning how different painting techniques and materials are used to create an abstract of the human body.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is in North Miami, on 770 NE 125th St. Surrounded by antique stores, cafes and near by the City of North Miami Library. The Crème Café a one-minute walk to the entrance of the museum and a thrift shop is right across the street. The location of the museum is perfect as the mission of MOCA is to serve an ethnically diverse community. I live15-20 minutes away from the museum and FIU Biscayne is approximately 15 minutes away.
In 1981 the Museum of Contemporary Art was opened in a modest single gallery space and was originally built by the Centre. In 1996 Charles Gwarthmey from GSNY unveiled the Museum’s new building, which was built in collaboration with the Gelabert-Navia Miami company to construct the premises. The museum supplies a space for new artists to explore, ponder the work of modern experts and uncover the cultural heritage we exist on. The Museum of Contemporary Art is known for its provocative and innovative displays and the search for an innovative approach to contemporary art. The display program of the museum is effective and requires eight to ten presentations per year. MOCA was donated $5 million by John S in 2008. And each year the James L. Knight Foundation holds three immersive exhibits that highlight works by new and innovative artists.
“The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is dedicated to making contemporary art accessible to diverse audiences – especially underserved populations – through the collection, preservation and exhibition of the best of contemporary art and its art historical influences.”
This statement is true, as MOCA is in a diverse community, where there is many different cultures and stories to be told. This is particularly important, because The contemporary Art Museum recognizes the need for enhancement and promotion of the cultural life of the city. MOCA conducts education programs targeted at the city and its diverse population to improve its appreciation of contemporary art. In 2009 the museum introduced MOCA by Moonlight services for Wednesday night, which include seminars at the contemporary art boot camp, 5 minutes with popular designers and music for all, hands-on adult arts classes.
General Admission: $10.00
Students & Seniors: $3.00
Children under 12
North Miami Residents
Bank of America cardholders on the first weekend of each month through the Museums on Us program.
MOCA is very affordable and
accessible to the community. It tries to stay as reasonable as possible for the
underserved community. There free admission every last Friday of each month. MOCA
has a 50-dollar membership (30 dollars for students and teachers) with
benefits, such as 10% Discount in the MOCA Shop, free admission to workshops
and shows, free access to the museum at any time and many more. Along with a
family membership of 75 dollars with the same benefits. Students pay a minimal
of 3 dollars with their student ID. General admission is 10 dollars.
works in Miami / New York as an interdisciplined social professional. His job consist of a painting, a model, a video, a photograph, and sketches centered on the installation. Cordova reflects on design, environments, and culture to rebuild, revisit, and reconcile events of the past to show their relevance in the current social sense.
Ursula von Rydingsvard
By using a chainsaw, untitled was created. The artist has hacked tree trunks and carved them into separate, block-like units for a rough texture. The blocks were felt layered, hard and soft alternating. Eventually, by grinding graphite into the wood, Von Rydingsvard aged it. The scent of the cedar and the gritty ground structure invoke a dream of a rugged environment as the viewers enter the project.
CECILIA VICUÑA: ABOUT TO HAPPEN
November 26, 2019 – March 29, 2020
The North Miami Museum of
Contemporary Art (MOCA) hosted the first major American solo exhibition by
renowned Chilean-born artist Cecilia Vicuña. Born in Santiago de Chile, Vicuña
is a poet, visual artist, and filmmaker who has published more than 20 poetry
books and who shows and performs internationally. Her multidimensional work
begins as an image that becomes a poem, a film, a song, a sculpture, or a
collective performance. “Cecilia Vicuña: About Happen” consists of
Vicuña’s multidisciplinary work in art, sculpture, painting, video, text, and
site-specific installations, created over 40 years ago. The exhibition examines
a process that shapes public memory and responsibility, reframing
dematerialization as both a formal consequence of conceptualism in the 1960s
and radical climate change. The practice of Vicuña stands for the conflicting
dialogs between conceptual art, planetary culture, literature, and feminist
art. The series will include drawing for the first time in this touring display,
a tradition which Vicuña started in the 1970s and that she recently returned to
– in some instances repainting childhood memory works.
I was completely mesmerized by her
works and I knew about the Inca culture beforehand which made it even more
special and interesting. The video above is a short clip of a 10 plus minute of
her artwork of Quipu. The Incas may not have bequeathed any written records,
but they did have colorful knotted cords. “Each of these devices was called a
khipu (pronounced key-poo). But recent breakthroughs have begun to unpick this
tangled mystery of the Andes, revealing the first signs of phonetic symbolism
within the strands. Now two anthropologists are closing in on the Inca
equivalent of the Rosetta stone. That could finally crack the code and
transform our understanding of a civilization whose history has so far been
told only through the eyes of the Europeans who sought to eviscerate it.”-
Cossins. Cecilia use of the khipu, revive the indigenous culture that is slowly
being lost. As stated by Cecilia Vicuna, the work is “ a prayer for us to
change our destructive ways.”
ALICE RAHON: POETIC INVOCATIONS
November 26, 2019 – March 29, 2020
A new exhibition featuring works by French Mexican surrealist painter Alice Rahon (1904–1987) was organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA). The exhibition looks to contribute to the scholarship and acknowledgement of under-explored female artists, as well as intercultural influences on exiled European artists in the Americas, whose work has often been profoundly influenced by indigenous and ancient cultures. Born in France and later nationalized as a Mexican, Rahon entered the Surrealist circle in Paris as an artist, but once in Mexico, she turned her talent to drawing. “Poetic Invocations” is the first solo show devoted to Rahon’s art in the U.S. 55 years since her 1964 display at the Louisiana Gallery in Houston, Texas. The show discusses a vibrant art-historical moment that originated in 1940 as an international community of artists who escaped to Europe from the Second World War and settled in Mexico. The show would discuss five basic themes: painting as a symbolic echo, the influence of the immemorial memory, the restricting text, the volcano and the Mexican landscape and light: inside and outside dilution, and inside out metaphorical experience: fiestas and popular art in Mexico.
There are many programs MOCA
execute, but a few are:
Jazz at MOCA: held every last Friday for each month at 8pm.
MOCA MINIMAKERS: Kids tour MOCA exhibitions and learn about the elements of art by painting, drawing and sculpting in the style of renowned artists. Free admission.
Sunday Stories: Kids storytelling. Every first Sunday of every month.
Women on the Rise: This is a unique
gender outreach program presented to adolescents from 12 to 18, serving the
social justice organization such as the Urgent Inc. and Thelma Gibson Health
Initiative, by contemporary artists such as Ana Mendieta and Carrie Mae Weems.
Art Corps: Art Corps is the MOCA’s
new program of access to contemporary art for youth and young adult people and
using self-expression as a tool to increase engagement and motivation.
Heart to Heart: Through
collaborations with the Jewish Community Services (JCS) through North Miami and
in the Miami-Dade County Exceptional Student Education (ESE), MOCA is actively
working with children, young people and adults who experience mental and
Whats your name?
Visitor: Stephanie Aristide
Is this your first time here?
Visitor: No, I visit occasionally when there’s new exhibitions.
Do you live close to MOCA?
Visitor: Yes, Just 20 minutes away.
Why do you like MOCA?
Visitor: The diversity of each artist they show for each exhibition and the Haitian culture.
Employee Interview (Portrait)
Whats your name?
What’s your job?
Curator of Education
Do you like working at MOCA?
Yes, I do
Why do you think your job is so
Employee: I like working with kids
and giving them the opportunity of experiencing contemporary art and seeing
them smile makes me happy. So, making kids happy.
Which artist that have been
displayed is your favorite?
Employee: I have so many I do not
think I can say, but the new exhibition is really nice.
Visiting MOCA was really pleasurable and I am glad I waited until the opening of the new exhibition to witness unique contemporary art that I found so fascinating. I also found my new favorite artist, which is Cecilia Vicuna. What I really love about MOCA is its size and location, it is not overwhelming, and the exhibitions were very minimal but still interesting. The location of MOCA is very convenient for workers, school children and visitors out of the city as it is located right in the center of everything. The environment is extremely welcoming and family friendly. I would spend a day with my family there and walk over to Crème Café which is a 2-minute walk from the museum. This works well for MOCA because more family would visit and participate in special events they have for kids and adults. What also works for MOCA are the programs and events they have for everyone in the community. When I had volunteered at MOCA I learnt of the Teen Art Force which takes place weekly. This keeps young people active in the museum and also bring in more funding. I loved everything about MOCA, however one thing that does not work for it is the lack of parking around the area and available areas are a long walking distance. Hopefully, parking space can be made a priority for the future and after it would a well-established art museum.