April 2015, Volume 19, Number 2



A Snapshot in Time

Walk around any of MDC’s campuses, and it’s occurring at every picturesque spot – students taking selfies for visual records of fun moments in unique locations.

Turn the smartphone around, and you can capture a very different view of the world, if you do your homework.

That’s the creative new approach students developed in two separate Honors College classes at Miami Dade College for a group project in which they simultaneously explored art, science and the history of Miami.

Awakening the Artist Within

“The students, none of whom started out as artists, all said they were surprised by what they could do creatively,” said Professor Chris Migliaccio, who teaches natural science at Wolfson Campus. “That wasn’t our direct intention. Our goal was to empower them. But the artistic sensibility they developed was a notable result of the project.”

Creating an integrated learning community, Migliaccio’s class worked in small groups of two to three students with those in Professor Claudia Scalise’s art appreciation course. The students’ mission was to create a compelling artistic presentation of an environmental theme that would move viewers and encourage greater awareness in the community.

They accomplished just that when their work went on display at the Wolfson Campus library in the photo exhibition It’s in Our Hands, created by students Yurimar Jaen, Deliane Quiles and Daylen Fiallo and sponsored by MDC’s Earth Ethics Institute.

The exhibition stopped those heading to the library in their tracks as they slowed their pace to take in what they saw. There at the door were starkly contrasting views of Miami today and how it was years before becoming a huge metropolis. The photos were created with smartphones, with each artist holding an old image of the site he or she faced while snapping the shot.

Digging Through the Shelves

“We wanted It’s in Our Hands to provoke the audience,” Jaen said. “We hoped to have some form of impact, and we thought the artwork could be a bit nostalgic.”

Jaen drew upon her research skills to hunt down the images for the project.

“I had previously been to the South Florida section of the library and seen old photos, so we knew there were records at our disposal at the library and museum,” she said. “The hand in the photos also resembles a hand taking a selfie. It’s mirroring ourselves as individuals and as a group, asking us to reflect on how we have modified the world and whether we perhaps want to reconsider the way we keep changing things.”

The eight teams of students produced work ranging from photos in the library exhibition to sculpture and digital animation displayed at other venues, including the Honors College office. Despite the medium, the inspiration was the same.

“The concept behind our art helped me see that the issues of deforestation and the human conquest of nature not only affect places far away, but also have had an impressive impact right in our own backyard,” said Luiza Kinzerska-Martínez, who created sculpture for her group project.

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