Lesly Garcia was born in a small town in Florida amongst the winter of 1999. An american to some but a Hispanic to many, coming from both lovely parents who were raised in Cuba and fought to come to the state to build a better future for their daughter. 20 years old and currently a junior at Florida International University. She is doing a double major in English with a Literature track and Fine Arts in Art.

She is a writer, poet, and painter at heart thanks to her parents. Growing up with her nose rooted in a book and deep in her own imagination, it came as no surprise to those who know her that she wants to write a book of her very own one day. Pulling inspiration from her personal adventures growing up, being in love, battling mental health, and the brutal pain of losing it all, she digs deep into her own woes and allows the sorrows to fuel her writing. Lesly still lives in Florida, with her Canis lovers, Hershey and Nini. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys collecting photocards and love letters, baking sweets, shooting on her vintage film camera, playing her untuned guitar, sipping Cuban coffee, and painting on canvas.

She is a stranger, lover, friend, and daughter experiencing the new sight of Miami through the history from the past that has shaped one’s life, to the many variety of cultures found in a city. This is a city where there’s endless possibilities of creating new memories along with the old whether it is through people, place, or things.

Miami isn’t just a city but a home to many, a home where different cultures come together and become one. A home where strangers become friends and friends become family.
Through this class she will experience a new perspective in life, learning through the meanings behind art, what life is in general when it comes to the environment, and the people that makes the city a better place. This class will offer not just to her but also her peers an opportunity to appreciate what they haven’t before.

A quote that matches this class in which she’s always carried with her is “the two most important days in your life is the day you were born and the day you figure out why”.

Welcome dearly friends to Miami in Miami.


FIU- MIAMI- September 11, 2019.

Oh! dearest love, sweet home of all curious creatures hopes, and joys, and painting miseries.
Tonight, if I may guess, one’s beauty wears a smile of such delight,
as brilliant and as bright as the next.
Each lost in a soft amaze,
I gaze, I gaze into the far distance.
Strangers eager to come out and play,
jumping from one town to the next as the bridge is what separates one from the journey that awaits.
A thousand dreams wrapped up in the feverish man who crosses its way from one side of the metro to the next.
It was in the goldenrod of the morning that strangers and I sent wishes up to the heavenly sky, whispered behind crooked teeth and twisted tongues.
The day became a place where our love lived, departing from one unfamiliar place to the next where we once belonged in a distant past.
A silage of what will one day be a nostalgic memory that only we can recall.
I’ve had dreams like this before- and still do
Strangers and I pacing down the winding roads trying to catch up to one another.
Perhaps it was my overwhelming desire for belonging and acceptance that helped me build a home for each passing person.
A home where one can be seen as equal rather than being separated by just a see-through door of a metro.
Differences and alikeness are what creates us as humans, a past history, a present time, and a future that lies ahead of us.
But even now, to this day, my weary bones are still trying to catch up to that dream that seems far away.
Strangers sitting apart from each other never really conversing with one another,
a line that seems hard to be broken whether it is due to color, age, or social status.
If pushed together even for a small period of time maybe it’ll spark some kind of acceptance with one another.
A metro is not only seen to get from one place to the next, it is a place where one can find their next soulmate whether it is through a romantic love or platonic love. A soulmate that can be through music, art, conspiracy theories, politics, etc.
A see-through door may separate one stranger from the next,
However, it only takes one person to break through it. Breaking the chain of what society says who to be friends with and what or who to love.
May this dream consume me whole, for I am a creature of habit just like the next.
Rummaging through the corners of one’s mind, waiting, tenderly, for one to come out and play along.


FIU- COCONUT GROVE- September 25, 2019.

A September spent by the secret gardens of Vizcaya, varying in different shades of flowers and sculptures. Images of what life could have been in the 1900s struck me, keeping me still in front of a waterfall.
A woman running carelessly across the warm sand bare feet as I chased after her for a wet, sweaty embrace. Layers upon layers of sunscreen on her freckled cheeks, the place on her shoulders already turning cherry as time lingered. Her heart becomes one with the garden in front of her. Her walls become high, blocking any passage for anyone to discover her true intentions about life. Her voice makes any flower grow from underneath the ground.
Through her eyes, I saw all the beautiful chaos swirling around her retina. Her pupils dilated in the dark, standing below the cave as she caught her breath, casting an unformed shadow of a woman with enchanting green eyes. Giggling and spinning in circles. It was a guide, a guide that I must follow through. The guide consists of teardrops, which enhances her own surroundings with an outcast of sympathy and serenity. Her dark hair rustled up with tree branches and petals of blood. It was an unusual sight to see.
Her Amazonian figure sat well on her wafer-thin body. She had a decanter shaped waist and her complexion had an impeccable, ochrous hue. Her full edgy eyebrows eased down gently to her black, beetle’s-leg eyelashes. A sculptor could not have fashioned her seraph’s ears and pixie’s nose any better.
When she broke into a smile, her beguiling, oyster-white teeth lit up the room. It could jolt me like an electric current when that megawatt smile gave me her full attention. Filed to perfection, her Venus-red fingernails ran through her nougat-brown hair. Spools of it plunged around her photogenic face and hid a swan’s neck, elegant and smooth. I loved her nebulous, Eden-green eyes which were a-sparkle with the ‘joie de vivre’. They were like two beryl-green jewels melted onto snow.
When I slowly got close to her like a predator ready to attack its prey, she sprinted, holding her dress up. She moved around the maze of the garden, I slowly being able to reach her with my fingertips. Her giggles, become a sound of music to my ears. She touches the sculpture in front of her and screams “Ha, I win what’s my prize?”
With a smile of mine I responded, “What would you like it to be?”
“First and foremost, I’ll need someone to escort me to the founder’s ball…” She slowly walked away, a smile still playing on her beautiful lips.
“I will be honored with pleasure,” I softly said to her.
She stops from her short walk, “the smart and kind Garcia coming to my rescue.”
We climbed up the steps and sat on a bench, capturing her hand in mine. I thought, ‘I would love to have this moment live with me forever’.
Our lips crashing together in unison with every wave. Her calamine-pink lips tasted like rose petals. It surprised me that they were plump and not botox-boosted as she had a demure, timorous personality. She whispered to me in a dulcet voice as sweet as any songbird. Her voguish clothes still kept captive an aroma redolent of cinnamon and meadow-fresh mint.
The images slowly faded away. Her delicious scent lingered around my surroundings long after her presence had gone. Her eyes became an image stuck in my brain as I left Vizcaya behind.

Art Society Conflict: Matthew Haimes

 My name is Matthew Haimes, I am a sophomore currently attending Florida International University and I am majoring in pure mathematics, although previously I was majoring in bio-chemistry, hoping to be an orthopedic surgeon. Once I realized though that I do not particularly enjoy the concepts behind such a profession, I quickly switched to mathematics to explore what I really enjoyed doing. Because of my love with critical thinking, I always enjoy analyzing and deducing the meaning behind different types of art. My family owns many pieces of fine art which we have placed all around our home, and I have visited many landmarks and museums such as the Louvre, Buckingham Palace, Versailles and the Vatican. I am excited to see more art throughout this class and have the opportunity to learn the meaning behind each piece.

Norton As Text

Painting: Diana and Actaeon with Pan and Syrinx
Painter: Valerio Castello

The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida showcases many fantastic pieces of artwork ranging from before the renaissance and up until modern art. Just as you walk in you can tell that this is a class establishment and takes itself very seriously. They have different floors which showcase an excess of amazing works. In particular, I would like to focus on my favorite painting at this museum, Diana and Actaeon with Pan and Syrinx.

This painting was created by Valerio Castello during the Baroque period, and as soon as it caught my eye, it did not let go. This painting depicts a very theatrical scene of the goddess Artemis turning the hunter Actaeon into a deer which results in his own dogs chasing him down and killing him. In this painting you can see the great amount of effort that went into lighting to make the piece look as realistic and three-dimensional as possible. The painting gives a strong feeling of humanity, but the poses they make are odd and if you try to re-create them then you can realize just how contorted their bodies are. Overall the story of the event and the depiction of the event by Castello gives this painting a feeling of commiseration for Actaeon and because of this it is a great piece of art.

The Deering Estate As Text

Picture: Tree overhanging ancient Tequesta burial mound

The Deering Estate is a fantastic architectural and historical masterpiece. From the buildings with a combination of Arabic and Spanish architectural influence, to the restored natural environment surrounding the estate, this destination is truly one of the most astounding areas in south Florida. This area has been influenced by humans for over ten-thousand years, and there is an archaeological site off the estate that shows clear evidence of the existence of Paleo-Indians around this time period. Surrounding the estate, you can see that the Tequesta Native American tribe survived in this location around five-hundred years ago. As the estate was built on the coast, there is a beautiful view of the ocean, which is noticeable as soon as you walk into the estate.

As an example, as soon as I walked into the estate and saw the view, I knew that I would never forget the experience that I would undergo that day. The first thing we did upon the start of our trip, was go see the Paleo-Indian archaeological site which I will never forget. Being able to hold a mammoth tooth that was about twenty-seven-thousand years old will be an opportunity that I will never forget. Once we got back to the estate, we began our journey to the Tequesta burial grounds. On our way to the burial site, we saw golden orb weaver spiders, which created a handful of webs in our path.

As well as that, we got the chance to see a massive solution hole which was dug into the ground by a substance only slightly more acidic than water, but enough to degrade the ground over hundreds of years. In addition, we got to see the remains of an ancient Tequesta trash mound, and even got to see the tools that they used, which were still there inside of it. We learned about the strangler tree, and its connection to spirituality and religion because of its large overhanging branches. Once we reached the burial grounds and saw the massive tree which hung over them it gave a sense of awe, that the long hike to get here was worth it. I will never forget this amazing experience and I will forever remember the Deering Estate for giving me the opportunity to see the real Miami.

Metro in Miami

Metro in Text: Daniel Perez

The first off-campus meeting for the Miami in Miami class began with us gathering at the Dadeland South Metro Station. Here the class would be one of the few in Miami to purchase a day pass to be able to get around the city via the metro. Public transportation is definitely not the most popular means of transport for Miamians.

Professor Bailly pointed out an interesting observation at our first stop. He talked about the size of the sidewalk, and how here in Miami the sidewalks are generally smaller when compared to those of other major cities and other countries. Considering I have had the chance to travel and visit areas with more emphasis on public transportation, this simple and seemingly minuscule detail about our standards here in Miami surprised me. I had not taken the time to notice the size of our sidewalks because of that reason. We simply don’t walk to our destinations on a regular basis. Miami isn’t focused on its public transportation, and the areas that it does are fairly closed off to people like me that live in the Kendall area. It took me about an hour to reach the station by car, which was the closest stop to my home. The thought of using public transportation instead of a personal vehicle is not a bad idea at all, as a student it would make things easier honestly. I would have one less expense to worry about and there are the ecological benefits to think about. Less cars on the road means less emissions which generally mean a greener lifestyle by having a smaller carbon footprint. I feel like Miami could focus on that instead of its expansion on highways.

Miami in Miami: Vivian Acosta

Photo by Jason Lopez

Hey everyone! My name is Vivian Acosta, and I am 20 years old. I was born and raised in Honduras. I came to Miami for the first time when I was 4 years old, and I would visit periodically since then. Three years ago, I finally decided to move here to attend college. I am currently a student at Florida International University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I have always been very passionate about helping others, and that’s what psychology is all about; therefore, I am still not definite on what I want to specialize in. Sometimes I see myself counseling children, and other times I see myself studying people’s brains (literally). I just love psychology!

Even though I have resided in Miami for a while now, I do not know much about the history, art, controversies, and rich culture this city holds; however, that will finally change! Through the Miami in Miami course, I will learn more about Miami in 16 days than what I have learned in 16 years!

Below you can find my Miami as texts.

Metro As Text

Photo by Vivian Acosta

“It’s Okay” by Vivian Acosta of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya Museum & Garden is a breathtaking European villa in the middle of the mangroves. The mansion is filled with art and baroque architecture. Every little detail in it tells a story. At the entrance of the house, a sculpture of a naked man who is covered in grapes and has enough wine to fill up a bathtub greets the visitors. The wine symbolizes abundance, celebration, and joy: the typical stereotype of what life in Miami is like.

This was the home of James Deering, a European businessman, since 1916. It was built for him by his Bahamian workers, who were allowed inside only once a year. The thought of having such hardworking people marginalized and unappreciated makes me feel indignant. Deering made sure he had enough security in his mansion. He wanted to make it impossible for anyone to trespass. He went from having empty moats around his property, to even using cactus as traps around the property to keep people away. The cacti eventually died because they couldn’t thrive in the Miami weather.

Walking down the halls of a mansion that resembles scenes from a princess movie astonished me. It is a whole different concept of Miami’s, and everyone, including myself, admires it. It is a gorgeous place, and it is okay if it doesn’t match the rest of Miami- after all, Miami is characterized by its cultural mix.

James Deering collected European artwork for his home away from home. This man literally brought European pieces to Miami.

As well as Mr. Deering, I am not originally from Miami. I was born and raised in Honduras, and three years ago, I moved to Miami to attend college. I have been homesick since the moment I got here, and I can’t seem to adapt to this city’s fast pace.

Just as James Deering imported paintings, sculptures, furniture, and Vizcaya’s architecture from Europe, I brought my cultural traditions, language, and food with me to feel closer to home as many of us do. I start my day with a café con leche: it soothes my soul. I go on with my day by singing along and dancing to Latin music in the middle of traffic at 7 am, and I cannot call it a day without watching an episode of my favorite telenovela before going to sleep.  After three years of struggling to fit in, I realized what I have been doing wrong: trying to fit in.  Our differences are the beauty of Miami! Each one of us brings in our roots, and it is okay if it does not match our neighbors’: together, we make up a colorful, rich, unique, and diverse garden – Miami.

Downtown as Text

Photo by Vivian Acosta

“The Magic City” by Vivian Acosta of FIU at Downtown Miami

Miami is well known for its tourism, sunny days, diversity, and beaches, but is its origin widely known too?

We are told the pretty side of the stories, while the skeletons are kept in the closet. Many remarkable details in history are purposely forgotten.

Did you know that the first Miamians were Tequesta, a native American tribe,? Ponce de Leon is so merited for Florida’s discovery that at some point I assumed he was the first person to stand on this land, and I am pretty sure that I am not the only one who came to such conclusion. The Tequesta should be given the recognition they deserve. Unfortunately, they were only “important” when they had something others wanted: their land. The Tequesta died a little bit after the Europeans came to Florida. Europeans brought diseases with them, and soon after their arrival, the disease killed many Tequesta. A great number of the Tequesta also died because of settlement battles.

The father of Miami, Henry Flagler, didn’t seem to give the respect The Tequesta deserved either. At the mouth of the Miami River, where the Tequesta once inhabited, only a burial mound with skeletons underneath remained. In 1896 Mr. Flagler had the burial mound leveled for one of his many projects: The Royal Palm Hotel construction. It is evident that industrialization was more important than history, and it still is.
Henry Flagler was a crucial figure in Miami’s development. He provided Miami with a railroad, several hotels, streets, and even a water system. Flagler’s railroad was not intended to reach Miami, until The Mother of Miami, Julia Tuttle, convinced him to extend it. Miami was the only part in Florida that did not have any freeze damage, so that was convenient for Flagler. Julia Tuttle negotiated with Flagler and offered him some of her land in return if he extended his railroad to Miami- this would facilitate the transportation in the city Ms. Tuttle was trying to build. And that’s how Miami was founded by a woman. Before my last Miami in Miami class, I had no idea who Julia Tuttle was, but I did know about Flagler: could that be a coincidence? Or just another historical figure that does not receive the credit that she deserves?

Julia Tuttle once owned the property known as Fort Dallas. Fort Dallas is a house that was once used as a military base during the Seminole Wars. This building was also used to house slaves. I got to stand inside the house where hundreds of slaves one stood, sat, laid, cried, slept, and lived. It was tough for me to picture such images while I was in there: a big part of me did not want to believe it. I guess that to avoid that feeling of shame and guilt is the reason why we choose to forget about such things rather than confront them.

Many more stories and figures are purposely ignored and not passed on to future generations. We should embrace our past and learn from it, instead of sweeping our wrongs under the rug. Let’s not forget to remember the forgotten.

Miami in Miami: Alexandra Rodriguez

Photo by Audri Rodriguez


Alexandra is a current junior in the Honors College at Florida International University. She plans to pursue a degree in Accounting and earn her certifications and licenses to become a CPA. She is an active member of Beta Alpha Psi, a national honor society for Accounting and Finance majors. She enjoys traveling, sports and fashion. Alexandra has explored over twelve different countries and appreciates the culture and lifestyle in each; she believes each country has something special to offer. With plans to study abroad in Paris next summer, she is excited to embark on a whole new journey. 

Fichas by Alexandra Rodriguez of FIU at Miami Metrorail

Metro As Text

Fichas by Alexandra Rodriguez of FIU at Miami Metrorail

As I walked beneath the metro line, I couldn’t help but notice the large dominoes painted along the sides. Like most Cubans in Miami, my family and I call these domino tiles “fichas.” With Cuban culture being extremely prominent in our city, it was no surprise these enormous tiles were depicted along the bottom of our metro. As someone who has only ever ridden the Metrorail a handful of times, certain art pieces like this quickly caught my attention. How had I never noticed such grand pieces of art and paintings like this before?

An artist named Bo Droga came up with the idea to paint dominoes along the dull pillars. I believe these paintings reflect Miami culture in a fun, playful way. Playing dominoes is a passion for so many Cubans and other Hispanics in Miami. At most gatherings in my house, the life of the party is typically around the domino table. Fortunately, Droga was able to encompass Miami culture in a large, public area for many to see.

Just like I had never noticed the “fichas” before, I’m sure there are plenty of other remarkable paintings and works in Miami I have casually walked or driven by and never spotted. As locals, we tend to walk past beautiful things and never notice and take in their actual magnificence. The nature, buildings and people we pass everyday seem so mundane to us. As humans, we continue to crave something newer and better. We are constantly searching and traveling far to see different things when in reality, we have such beauty so close to home.

By Alexandra Rodriguez of FIU at Lummus Park

Downtown As Text

The Unexpected by Alexandra Rodriguez of FIU at Lummus Park

Standing on the grounds of a “home” slaves once occupied is a feeling unlike any other. To think that their freedom was restricted and they were trapped in such a small, dull place is frightening. As I stood here, I reflected on the aspects of life I usually never think about. Most basic human rights, including freedom, were amongst my many thoughts. 

As we approached Lummus Park, I couldn’t help but notice how tiny the plantation appeared. As we stepped through the doors, I was even more surprised. With the limestone walls, the concrete floor and overall lackluster appearance, picturing the slaves in here was difficult. I’m sure the conditions they were put through were horrific and imposed on all basic rights. To think a city like Miami has history as such is unexpected. 

The Wagner home we visited was interesting, as the rooms were filled with tables and items that were typically in the living areas. As soon as I stepped foot into the area, the dining table with a checkered tablecloth caught my attention; it was filled with games and toys. The Wagner family had a daughter named Rose, and during those times, games and toys were extremely crucial to a child’s social development. I also found it interesting that the Wagner’s were an interracial couple, a German man and a Creole woman. They actually came to Miami to live an open marriage. 

Although I was born and raised in Miami, I had never heard of Lummus Park, let alone the fact that a slave plantation sat on those grounds. Fortunately, there is an abundance of history in Miami that is calling my name to be explored. It’s incredible to continue finding bits of my home that even a local like myself has never experienced. 

Miami In Miami: Fauzan Sheikh

I am Fauzan Sheikh currently a Junior in the Honors College and FIU School of Engineering. My major is Construction Management and I am currently an Assistant Estimator at Zahlene Enterprises which is a construction company located in Medley, FL. I was born in Karachi Pakistan, raised in South Miami, FL, and I currently reside in Pembroke Pines, FL My goal is to finish my degree as soon as I can to lead my life into a successful career within the construction industry. I have always been very involved with every institution I was enrolled in. During my time in Southwest Miami Highschool (2013-2017) I played Varsity football and my team won the district championship. I was also in Student Government during my senior year in high school. Broward College brought me closer to my religion through the MSA (Muslim Student Association) chapter of Broward College. I became the Vice President and did a great amount of community work alongside my Muslim brothers and sisters. Our MSA did everything from feeding the homeless in Downtown Ft. Lauderdale to the riddance of misconceptions about Muslims through peaceful talks and debates. At Broward College I was also a member of HSC (Honors Student Committee) which not only aided me through opening doors to scholarships and academic success, but I also spread the knowledge I gained to help the students who I studied amongst. I am blessed to have FIU in my own hometown. The diversity here at FIU is outstanding and the opportunities for minorities like me are in surplus. Being an FIU Panther for only three weeks has made me realize how if I choose the correct path, success is just the reach of a hand away.

Miami as text

At 10:30am our class arrived at the Dadeland South Metro rail station to begin our first excursion of Fall 2019. From the minute I stepped foot into this metro rail station I realized how different life is only a 45-minute drive from the city that I live in. Miami is a very populous city with very high vehicle traffic. The Miami Metro Rail system was built as an aid for the people who reside in the city and need safe and time effective transit for basic commute, to/from work and school. I had a sense of attraction from the rattling metro tracks, beeping of car horns, and the smell of fuel combustion, which would drive your everyday individual away. Life in South Miami is truly the fast life.

My first exposure to the arts in Miami was in our very first stop at the University of Miami, to view the Lowe Art Museum. As we entered the museum we were greeted with great respect and the basic rules of the museum were given to us. The rules were set to conserve and protect the amazing artwork that this museum contains. Domenikos Theotokopoulos (1541 – Apr 07, 1614), formally known as El Greco was a Greek painter of the Spanish Renaissance. Prior to this excursion, I had only learned about who he was and how amazing his works of arts are. Not one but two of his pieces are conserved here locally within the walls of the Lowe Art Museum. Grateful is the way to describe what I was upon being revealed to the works of his art.

Further into our Excursion we exited the metro station onto the Viscaya stop which was the part I was most impatient for. My first attendance at the Viscaya Gardens was when I was only an adolescent with absolutely no knowledge about what this place was. Professor Bailly briefed us in our first-class lecture about what Viscaya was and what it means to us today. The very entrance of Viscaya made me feel as if I am no longer in south Florida but instead somewhere in Europe. Viscaya is the prime example of beauty created with the hands of man, but within the walls of this landmark is a very dark past. Professor Bailly not only presented us with the actual means of the construction of this landmark but also made us realize how normal whatever happened within these walls was during the time it was created. Viscaya was created to be heaven on earth and the concept came from god-like ambition in man.

A city known as Overtown was the next stop of our excursion. We dined as a class at Jackson Soul Food located in the heart of Overtown. The hospitality of the hosts of this family owned restaurant was adjacent to that of the people of Pakistan. Beyond the amazing food and energizing fruit punch was how the family runs this restaurant which such pride and happiness. Our entire class had happy bellies and the owners had great business from us. After dining at Jackson Soul Food, we walked around the corner to Mount Zion Baptist Church. This church was once part of a prospering Overtown before Highway I-95 was built directly through it. Overtown is a primarily Black neighborhood full of welcoming and kind residents. The state of Florida inconsiderately built I-95 directly over the top of this church. There is tons of pollution in the air and the noise of traffic is very bothersome to the residents. When our class was standing outside of the church, we were directly underneath the highway.

The last stop of our excursion was at the Northside Station. This stop was the briefest but not under-appealing by any means.  The Northside Station had a piece of artwork by Purvis Young. I was caught off-guard when I saw this huge mural painted on the wall at the actual stop. After viewing the Purvis Young painting, we had a short post-excursion discussion and I began to miss the class before we even went our own way. I am more than looking forward to the rest of this seminar.

Downtown as Text

Miami-Dade Court House

This week in Miami in Miami took us to the heart of our city of Miami. we explored the entire Downtown area or more specifically the more historically substantial buildings and parks. There really was not one part of what we explored that I found more intriguing than the other. We saw all sorts of structures that looks like wood cabins from the North and buildings that made us feel as if we were standing in the streets of Greece.

We ate at a Mediterranean restaurant known as Fresh Lebanese Kitchen. Immedietely I felt as if I was home because of the generous portions of food and the Muslim hospitality that I can only find within my own family. There I ate a Chicken and Lamb Shawarma Wrap with a side of Babaghanoush and pita bread. When we finished eating we walked right across the street to the Miami Dade Courthouse.

The Miami Dade Courthouse building is one that stands out from all the buildings that surround it. After overeating at the Mediterranean Restaurant I sat on the steps of the courthouse as Professor Bailly went over the history of the building, how it came to be, and what work is done within it. Outside of the Courthouse was a statue of Henry Flagler and right beneath his feet was a plaque that informed us of his significance. Being a student in the Construction Management program at FIU, I always am observant of structures which was why the courthouse building left me starstruck.

Views at Vizcaya

Vizcaya In Depth As Text

We once again entered Vizcaya, this time the tour being more in-depth. The beautiful construction made of limestone mixed with stones and shells is just something that is not the most common, nor is it efficient. Professor Bailly showed us areas that were made to express love and true feelings for your significant other which personally gave me many ideas for the future. This time around we were introduced to the variation of design styles and artwork within the rooms of Vizcaya. Not one room had the same style of artistry if compared to the other. The Kitchen area was full of chinese ceramics and had a brighter pallete of colors throughout. The floors of the kitchen were made out of cork so the constant movements of the maids and servants do not disturb the never ending peace of their owners. Their were rooms with Rococo and Neoclassical furniture and artwork. The artwork that is enclosed within the gates of Vizcaya was the work of Paul Chalfin who was an artist and interior designer with an interest in architecture. Revisiting Vizcaya with my family and explaining everything from even half of the detail that we received from professor Bailly will truly change their perspective.

Art Society Conflict: Natalia Betancourt

Hello! My name is Natalia Betancourt and I am a sophomore studying finance. I have been fortunate enough to be in the honors college for the past year and excited for the journey we are going to embark with this class. I love being involved on campus; I recently just joined a sorority, I am the Assistant Director of Finance for FIU homecoming and I am also a peer mentor for the Center for Student Engagement. I also work as a student assistant in the office of Career and Talent Development where I work closely with employers who attend our major events. On my free time I enjoy hanging out with my friends and family, I also like watching Netflix and shows like How I Met Your Mother, and I also enjoy going to eat with my friends especially at Pieology Pizzeria. I come from a Honduran father and Bolivian mother and I was born in Miami. I have traveled a lot outside of the U.S. however, I have not explored Miami as much as I would like to. I’m so excited for this class and the memories we’ll make!

Deering Estate: As Text

I was very skeptical when I first heard we were going to be hiking at the Deering Estate. I had never done anything like this at all before. Never been camping or done anything remotely close to what we did in class on Wednesday. It was definitely a new experience for me and something that I will never forget.

Our first hike was an hour long and consisted of us going through a paleo-Indian burial ground. As we were walking through this, I kept thinking to myself “when will this be over?” I was scared of touching poison ivy and wood and scared of getting mosquito bites and having to basically dodge any plant that looked weird. But as soon as we got to see our final destination, that feeling went away. Once Vanessa Trujillo (our tour guide) and Professor Bailly started to explain the history behind the land, it made me feel truly blessed to be a part of something so exclusive. The history behind the land that were literally standing on amazed me. The different artifacts that Vanessa was showing us and the history behind them was something that you just don’t hear about everyday. Not to mention that on our way to our final destination we saw a skeleton of an animal and it freaked me out because I had never seen a real skeleton before. That moment made me realize that this class is so unique and gives its students so many opportunities to do amazing things that not every student at FIU gets to do.

Our second hike was about hour long as well and it consisted of us going to the Tequesta Native American Burial Ground. This was something that I definitely did not think I would be interested in, but turns out it was the complete opposite. Having been told the history of that burial was so surreal. The fact that this burial ground is one of the very few things left behind by the Tequesta tribe is mind blowing.

This was definitely an unforgettable experience. I learned things that I never would’ve thought would interest me, I stepped extremely out of my comfort zone, and I got a taste of what the “real Miami” used to be. This visit to the Deering Estate showed me what Miami looked like before the Miami skyline and AAA were built. It showed me that Miami didn’t always used to be the way it is today. It showed that a lot of people still care about the History of this amazing city. This visit was definitely one for the books.

Miami in Miami: Ashley Diaz

By Karen Ayuso at Naples Pier, Naples, Florida (Kaitlyn Diaz left and Ashley Diaz right).

Enough isn’t Enough.

By Ashley Diaz of Florida International University at Hialeah Station, Miami Metro Rail.


The initial thought running through my head as the class was boarding the metro rail for the day was that of this first assignment. I was questioning what exactly I would write about considering the numerous amount of locations to be visited in one day.  The metro had a rather straightforward route, despite feeling connected to the people around me I felt like there was room for more. As if I were not getting enough, and my mind craved the attraction of more people to the metro rail. For some reason, unbeknownst to me; this desire accompanied me throughout the day.

             The instant that we stepped into Jackson Soul Food in Overtown, there was that familiar sense of wanting and needing more attention. The workers there had set up the tables nicely for approximately 25 people and they did so without hesitation. They were welcoming us, and would gladly accept 25 more of us if they had the opportunity. To me, it was an example of a place that deserved all the recognition it could get.

            People who did ride the metro rail were either quiet and avoided eye contact with you or did the complete opposite of that. I appreciated that quality within people, those who were curious, asked questions, and communicated with me. Those who kept to themselves and buried their heads in their phones made it clear they had no intentions of speaking to anyone. And perhaps that could have made up for the lack of presence within the metro carts. For this desire to possibly be fulfilled, it needed to be satisfied with the souls of the city, and although I got some of it, it only left me craving more.

Underlying Beauty


Vizcaya has been a long-awaited trip within this class and I was not disappointed at all. First thing I would like to emphasize is that this Museum and Garden location is breathtakingly beautiful, not only on the outside but on the inside as well. There is an underlying attraction that it has as well, and though it can be explained it is better when one tries to find it on their own. Deciphering it can be a puzzle, for me, however, the feeling I had grown on me as I walked around the garden. I gather that beauty lies within the clever architecture.

As professor John Bailly made me aware of the cultural blend and emergence, that had been present throughout Vizcaya, I saw that as a fascinating idea. What fascinated me more was the comparison to Miami, there is a blend of culture just as there is one at the Vizcaya Museum and Garden. It should be a statement of pride when someone says that they are from Miami, simply because there are so many people who have different backgrounds and spread their unique upbringings throughout the city. Making it very diverse and therefore beautiful, that is what Vizcaya has brought to light. It has different styles within the estate, artwork or textiles created by people from different cultural backgrounds. If that doesn’t scream Miami I don’t know what does. The beauty of Vizcaya and the beauty in Miami are that way for a similar reason, it is the uniqueness and distinct cultural blend.

Art Society Conflict: Javi Fernandez

Photo by phy_damon

Hey everyone, my name is Javi. I’m a sophomore currently pursuing a B.A. in Math Education. I’m not sure what I want to do in the future; 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. From this class I hope to glean info about the creative processes of many amazing artists, as well as deeper insight into the way I view art. I’m also very interested in learning about the evolution of different art movements and the mark they left on history’s biggest societal changes.

Photo by Vanessa Lopez

Norton as Text

I am enamored by the abstract. This painting encapsulates my favorite things about abstract art; a relatively simple concept expressed mystically and shrouded in complexity. Upon first coming face to face with this piece, I was immediately engulfed by the ominousness of the situation. There is a conflict; is it bloodshed between humans, internal strife, or something else entirely? It is, after all, just a bunch of black marks. Intrigued, I stepped closer; perhaps there is more to be found. Expecting to see potential shapes among the black marks, I noticed thin shapes impossible to make out until your curiosity leads you within inches from the painting. Blueprint-esque diagrams of buildings litter the background. The truth became clearer; this was bloodshed. A city, or possibly much more, was being overcome with strife. One thinks then of modern history’s biggest wars and tragedies: the World Wars and the Holocaust, or perhaps the Armenian genocide, or colonialism as a whole. I then read the description; this painting is about Ferguson. Not a war, not a genocide, not even a particularly international historical event, but the Ferguson riots incited by the murder of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. This painting does not just represent riot, but injustice and the fight against it. In the eyes of the artist (whose name I regretfully did not record) and of many other American citizens, this was an unforgivable injustice. The shooting of Michael Brown as well as of Trayvon Martin two years earlier seemed to have set the public’s eyes on this too-common tragedy. Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, E.J. Bradford, and countless others’ names and deaths are immortalized in this piece.

Deering as Text

It is easy to remove yourself from past civilizations when your only experience with them is from textbooks or articles. But when you step onto the very grounds that our geographical ancestors stepped on, holding the very tools that they held thousands of years ago, the connection to them becomes impossible to ignore. In our visit to the Deering Estate, I had the honor of experiencing this indescribable feeling that only a few hundred people in recent history have. Having lived roughly twelve thousand years in the past, the Paleo-Indians are the earliest known civilization to have inhabited southeast Florida. The treacherous path to the primary site, marked by bumpy rocks and poison ivy, gave me a newfound respect for the tribes of the past. For us, the trek there was a test of stamina; for the natives, that was likely but a taste of what they dealt with on a day to day basis. I thought about these tribes as well as the Tequesta Indians and every Native tribe across the New World; how would the present era be if they hadn’t met a fate so untimely? Did they deserve to win? The cruelty of the European man, focused only on riches and conquest, nearly eliminated all traces of these complex cultures. The traces we now consider sacred were bulldozed for profit. Civilizations some now dedicate their lives to studying were ruthlessly destroyed: and for what? We certainly were not inherently superior to the natives, and we especially were not more fit to rule these lands; such is evident by the struggles of the first New England settlements. We have ruined the natural landscape of Miami in an effort to imitate the ideal American city. We have ruined the earth that the tribes toiled for millenia to live harmoniously with. It may be pointless to reflect on the unchanging past, but it seems impossible to ignore the feeling having walked on such sacred ground.

Miami In Miami: Gianmarco Agostinone


Photo By Jessica Horsham CC By 4.0

Gianmarco Agostinone is currently a senior finishing his undergraduate portion of his combined bachelors and masters degree in computer science. Over the course of his time in college, he has traveled on two study abroads with professor Bailly, France and Italy, and wants to culminate his travel experience by finally learning about the area he has lived in his whole life, Miami. After college, he hopes to continue his newfound lifestyle of traveling and photography and eventually make his way throughout the rest of Europe.

Metro As Text

CC By 4.0

Miami: A Home That Doesn’t Feel Like Home By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Miami on September 11, 2019

Is it strange to say I know the streets of Rome and Paris better than I know those of Miami? I can direct you to the colosseum like it’s the back of my hand but if you ask me how to get to South Beach, I’m lost without Google Maps. I know Florence’s hidden gems. Little known places to watch the sunset over the city’s skyline. I know where to go to get the best macchiato or the world’s best gelato. But I can’t tell you where you can find a decent cup of coffee in a five-mile radius of FIU that’s not a Starbucks. I call Miami home, but I know nothing of her.

This really hit me on the day of the metro. Countless times I have driven to the places that the metro connected, and never did I once realize it was even there. A big reason why I’ve always justified my lack of knowledge and traveling throughout Miami is the inconvenience it is to get anywhere. With its crazy drivers and the sheer distance away everything is, you must make a whole day out of going anywhere and I just never have that time to commit. It was not like in Paris, where its extensive metro system can take you anywhere you desired and quickly too, that having lunch by the Eiffel Tower was not something you had to plan your day around. But finding out that Miami has a system like that too was an eye-opener. Now it is nowhere near as extensive as many modern areas but it’s a start and already has allowed me to visit more places and see more things than I ever have here before and that’s just the beginning. For now, I plan on using the metro whenever I can and hopefully, one day the system will expand enough that you won’t need a car to go anywhere in Miami.

Vizcaya As Text

CC By 4.0

Cultural Appropriation By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Vizcaya on September 25, 2019

An issue that many people have with Vizcaya, along with many other places and people, is that they took items and ideas from other cultures, which is considered cultural appropriation. They received backlash due to Deering buying these famous artworks and uprooting them from their homes to make them a part of his and using foreign architectural designs that had no origin in Miami. Some believe that by doing this he is making an artificial landscape that has meaningless foundations and contents. But I do not agree. We are living in an ever-increasing globalized world where ideas and cultures spread faster than ever, and trends can travel from one place to the another nearly overnight. Integrating these other cultures beliefs and ideas should not be considered wrong and is even vital for the progression of our society.

Anybody should be able to appreciate aspects of other cultures and not be judged for it. Even with Deering, he bought artwork from all over with only the intention of making his house look pretty, but that doesn’t make it wrong. He still was able to spread this beauty to an area that lacked it and did no harm in doing so. Spreading and adopting aspects of other cultures, whether it be the way you dress, act, talk, or things you own should never be seen as wrong as long as you don’t do it to mock those cultures and rather do it because you sincerely respect them.