Washington DC is one of those places whose name you learn by heart since you are a kid, no matter where you were born. The impact that every decision taken here has, is beyond compare.

It’s full of grandiose monuments. They all stand for beautiful ideals, and were built by people who believed in them. And yet things have changed: the world is shifting, and many of those ideals are being questioned in a world where we are way too many people, using way too many resources, and finding it harder and harder to live together.

I was staying at the Mandarin Oriental, which is perfectly located if you are in the mood for discovery. From the room I could see the Jefferson Memorial. The best part is that I was able to walk almost everywhere.

Let’s begin this journey at National Mall, a landscaped park that contains many key elements of some of the most important events in American History.

First we walk towards Washington Monument, the big white obelisk in the middle, that honors America’s first President George Washington. He never lived in DC, and yet his contributions to the country are many, starting with the victory of The American Revolution.

Right behind it, we see the World War II Memorial where 16 million Americans who served in the United States Armed Forces are remembered.

Keep walking.

You can see Lincoln’s Memorial’s Reflecting Pool. It’s shallow and calm so that you can see through it a reflection of the memorial in the water.

Look at your own reflection as well, and perhaps spare a thought to how you fit in this context.

Keep walking towards the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and read out-loud at least one name that represents a lost life during this very particular war.

Walk all the way from start to finish, and realize how much time it took you. Multiply it by the impact loosing that person meant to each family. With this in mind, walk towards the solitary statue of Lincoln, at Lincoln’s Memorial.

As you stand up there, imagine all the social and political events that have taken place right here, including Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a Dream” speech. Think of how big things often have small beginnings.

Walk down the stairs, and head towards the Korean Veterans Memorial. Read the inscription that says “Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered a call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.” Read it once more. How does it relate to the latest news headlines?

Now, walk towards Martin Luther King’s Stone of Hope. What does it make you feel as you contrast it with every other monument here?

Let’s finish this walk at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial. “Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear,” he said in 1941.

We can now focus on the ideals of John Smithson, founder of the Smithsonian Institution, which is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex in the world, and the reason why almost every museum is free in this city. The vision behind it, is that every person should have access to art and education.

This institution will help us weave together all these concepts through art.

The first stop should be The National Portrait Gallery, which tells the story of America through the portraits of celebrated people in every discipline followed by The National Gallery of Art, to add a world-wide context to our conversation.

For a deeper understanding of the evolution of art in this context, stop by the Hirshhorn Museum, a leading voice for contemporary art that holds one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Renwick Gallery was my absolute favorite place. Its collection documents America’s visual culture through artists from all over the world, and its housed in a very special old house with the most beautiful staircase. The Phillips Collection, which was the first museum of Modern Art in America, has a collection that spans from French Impressionists to Contemporary Artists from all over the world.

Now we can focus on social wounds:

The Holocaust Museum, is a powerful and quite unforgettable experience that can’t be missed. The National Museum of African American History is also a must, not only because of its incredible architecture, but also because there is still so much to be said about the struggles African Americans have faced in their own country.

But, let’s talk about women, through a visit to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, which is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts. You do have to pay for this one, but it’s worth it.

Its impossible to finish this journey without spending sometime at Newseum, as fake-news is at the forefront of world politics, and terrorism and fear shape the way everything works. Here, you can experience up-close and personal some of the stories that shaped 9/11, and almost every terrorist attack from the past couple of years.

Stop by The Library of Congress, which is very close to Newseum, and finish this journey on a high note, realizing how you, and everyone of us has the power and potential to influence the way our world is engineered.

This journey means a lot to me. I’m not blind to the current situation at the border. It hurts me everyday to think that our countries, and I speak in regards to Latin America as a whole, haven’t been able to provide a safe environment and the opportunities needed for our people to thrive at home. And yet, every country is facing their own challenges.

And the journey continues.

Shadows; puzzles; reflections; oval frames; repurposing the old; repurposing the meaningful; catharsis; more catharsis; hope; despair; fear; anger; more fear; magic;

Death.

As I walked through the infinite halls of the different fairs during Miami Art Week, those were the recurrent themes and techniques. The most commonly overheard comments were, as it’s often the case:  ‘I could do this’, ‘ this is not art’, ‘it has been done before’.

Right.

Creativity takes courage; so much of it.

danie gomez ortigoza journey of a braid faena art basel miami fashion phillip smith no pise la grama

Once you are out there, everything is open to interpretation. Artists bare their souls. Every one of those pieces hanging in some lonely hall is a confession.  Embedded in the spotlight is the persuasive message of failure, that is on its own their main force of creation. The ‘real’ artist is not necessarily the one that sells the most, yet the price that his/her art bares, recognizes his/her power and assertiveness in navigating the system.

The system…

It’s called a system, because the world is engineered…

…engineered by us.

We often forget…

And the current system is based on cannibalism. We idolize those who have devoured the most: the highest prices, the biggest companies, the most followers, the most tickets sold. Buying into cannibalism makes us believe, at least on the surface, that our choice is right, because so many people agree.

I don’t live art from a business perspective, even though I respect those who engage with it through that lens. For me art is about emotion and feelings.

This year my life has been focused on self-discovery through art. I fought that side of me all my life. Studied business and marketing, and was successful in keeping that yearning on a leash, because I though art lead to sadness. It did in my family.

But we are all artists to the core. We are fulfilled the most while engaged in the process of creation in whatever path we’ve chosen. It’s innate.

Earthquakes happen when weaknesses cannot be expressed. It’s a fine line that leads to freedom.

How we deal with reality, as a collective, is the greatest challenge facing us. It has a ripple effect. Let yourself be who you are. As flawed as you might perceive yourself to be, you have the power to heal the part of the world that you can see and touch.

Pictures: Celia D Luna// Skirt: No Pise la Grama

I first realized that the biggest collection of Dali’s work outside of Europe, is only a 4 hour drive from where I live, or — even better — one hour by plane, after having lived in Miami for more than a year.

I have a thing for Dalí. When I was 22 years old, I lived in Madrid, where I dedicated myself to study every book ever published regarding his life, and visited most of the places that were relevant for him. One of my most cherished findings, as I explored his journey, is that his mother made him repeat to himself in the mirror that he was the greatest artists that ever existed, starting at the age of four. I always wonder how much of an effect that exercise actually had in his life…

I do believe in magic, specially when it comes to mental programming.

Ever since my first visit, the name of this city — St Petersburg — has taken an absolute new meaning for me, and has become the ‘local’ tip I share when friends visit Miami. You’d be surprised of all the Floridians that are not aware of the exitstance of this breathtaking place.

The surrealism of the city goes beyond the Dali Museum, and that’s possibly because of its history: in the 1940’s, as World War II became more and more complicated, the city grew exponentially, and became training ground for the U.S Coast Guard and for the Air Force. Many of the troops returned after the war to make it their home.

There is nothing more surrealist than war, and I believe in the power of collective memory as a key element for the formation of future generations.

Art is everywhere, and fashion is different; a lot more daring than anywhere else I’ve been in Florida. Veganism and healthy eating is a thing — without even noticing I ended up at vegan restaurants almost every time I ate.

I stayed at the Vinoy Renaissance hotel, which is an alluring blend of 1920’s art deco architecture where celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe stayed. It is said to be a center for paranormal activity, which was a fun fact to keep in mind during my stay. It’s all over google! Yet, I don’t have any ghost stories to report on, sadly enough. 😞

My first stop was the Chihuly Collection, which is a stunning permanent installation of Dale Chihuly’s work.  It made me feel like ‘Alice in Wonderland’, because of the parallel universe he’s able to create by mixing glass, colors and emotions.

St Petersburg’s Sunken Gardens are the perfect place to escape for a moment of silence. Nature at its best mixed with  the most beautiful flamingos make for the most relaxing afternoon.

For dinner, I went to Locale Market, a curated grocery market experience with a million options available, using the freshest ingredients. Loved how the menu of the restaurant of its second floor, Farm Table Cucina, had drinks inspired in Schiaparelli’s exhibit.

Do make sure to spend as much time as possible exploring the artistic life of the city. There are many museums still on my list, but I cherish every every opportunity I get to spend time at the Dali.

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eful to Visit St Petersburg and The Dali Museum for sponsoring my trip, and allowing me to create these images with Celia D Luna. Also, Carolina K facilitated the coolest artisanal made outfits ever. Thank you. ❤

I am a feminist. No, I don’t burn bras, and I do love make-up. I wear lipstick almost every day. Red. I have nothing against men, quite the contrary…

I am a feminist by chance. I grew up in a society where it was common to be told ‘Calladita te ves más bonita‘, which is the equivalent of, ‘When you are quiet you look prettier‘.  Every time a woman made a major accomplishment, someone would make a remark such as ‘I wonder how she got there’ implying that she had probably slept with her boss, and not really worked for it. Being in a bad mood, was synonymous with having my period, ‘seguro está en sus días’. And of course, offensive words were 80% of the time feminine, and often referencing mothers : hija de la chingada, la puta madre, chinga tu madre…

I could rarely walk on the street near a construction site or congested area without getting some kind of whistle or comment, and it wasn’t a matter of being pretty or not. You just had to be a woman for men to feel like they had the right to interact with you that way. In other words, being a woman, is quite similar to being an object, and men are entitled to an opinion.

Telenovelas, (soap-operas) have played a determinant role in Latin-American societies, making women believe that they need to always compete against each other. The protagonist is not the one that succeeds professionally, builds a family, finds uninterested love or does whatever is in her hands for the greater good…  Never. The protagonist ‘wins’  whenever she gets the rich man. Period. Thank goodness for Netflix, which is finally helping towards the evolution of this concept forcing national TV stations to change.


Life happened. After living in Madrid, New York, Toronto and Stockholm, my perception of a woman’s role changed dramatically. Creating the Mexican delegation for the Women’s Forum for Economy and Society with Jean Christian Agid, who heads the Forum in the Americas, was also a determinant moment, because I could see powerful women in action, and realized that what made them so powerful was, to a great measure, being part of networks of women that made them stronger.

For me being a feminist is as simple as believing that women have the freedom to choose the life they want, and use their body according to their personal values, while deserving as good of an education as any man, and also getting paid  for jobs accordingly.  It’s all about fairness.

Simple thought, right? Yet women are paid less for the same jobs, carry a greater stigma when it comes to their sexual life, and have to pay more for simple things such as dry-cleaning. Have you noticed that cleaning a shirt is often double the price when it’s for a woman vs a man? Then there is toiletry, clothes and even pink pens. It just doesn’t make any sense.

The other day, while a woman was interviewing me before I was part of a panel for Girl Starter, the TLC reality show about young entrepreneurs, she said, lowering her voice, that she was a feminist. I looked at her straight in the eye and told her that ‘feminist’ was not a bad word.

Same happened when a good friend of mine who is a top executive at an extremely important company in Europe read in my bio that I stated that I was a feminist. She said, ‘You know that ‘feminism’ is a really big word, right?’. Imagine my reaction…

So please, if you identify with any of the things I’ve mentioned above, embrace this term. A kitten dies every time you keep it in…


 

 

I arrived to Miami by chance. In my mind, any place would be ok. I knew the drill: one year and a half of hardship while figuring out my career move, fun people to be with, doctors, hairdressers… then one year and a half of actually enjoying the city, and then off to a new adventure.

That’s usually the way it works when you are an expat. I had already moved to New York, Toronto, Stockholm… in my mind Miami was another city on my list.

Yet I couldn’t be more mistaken. This city is a melting pot of Latin American ambition and power mixed with a fantastic American community. This mix has resulted in a booming cultural city that I never want to leave.

The Philip Frost Museum of Science just opened. It’s such an amazing architectural jewel. When I arrived to the city, it was basically a whole in the ground right next to the Perez Art Museum. Three hundred and five million dollars later, its the most spectacular Science Museum I’ve ever visited. As I strolled through its halls last week, I realized how much has happened in this city in the past three years. The view from the rooftop revealed many of those changes.

Beyond its state of the art architecture, this museum is also a reminder of the power of nature. Climate change is real, even though some people still think it’s only a myth. Educating people on biodiversity and the ecosystems that are being destroyed is one of the main objectives of this institution. Sea level rise is one of the biggest threats in Florida, and it can’t be disregarded.

Cities like Miami are not supposed to be seen, they are meant to be lived. I couldn’t be happier to have the privilege of experiencing the evolution of this place.