Join Us for an Artist Talk on Creating a Literary Map of Los Angeles


How might one depict the literary history of a city as complex and diverse as Los Angeles? In 2011, artist J. Michael Walker tackled this question, creating a “City in Mind: A Lyrical Map of the City of Los Angeles” (color pencil on polypropylene paper, 50″ high x 256” wide), a monumental illustrated literary map of Los Angeles. First exhibited at the Hammer Museum, the map was later acquired by the UCLA Library, where it will soon be placed on permanent display. The remarkably generative work — now fully digitized — has been integrated into history, literature, and digital humanities courses at UCLA and led to new opportunities for teaching with special collections in the digital era.

In conversation with Kelly Miller, Associate Dean of Learning and Research Services at the University of Miami Libraries, J. Michael Walker will discuss the work, how it came to be, and the collaborations it has inspired.

The conversation will be followed by Q&A. This event is free and open to the public.
RSVP now to or call 305-284-4026.

About the Artist
Photo-by-Michael-Dooley_crop2J. Michael Walker’s multicultural works connect history and spirituality with an empathic feminism. His artwork has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Harvard Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Mexico City’s Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares, and the Autry Center Museum of the American West. His first book, All the Saints of the City of the Angels (Heyday, 2008), which he both wrote and illustrated, as an exploration of the history and multicultural heritage of Los Angeles, won Art Book of the Year and Best Regional Non-Fiction on the Pacific West for 2009, and is in its second printing. J. Michael’s essays have been published in the Los Angeles Times, on the Zocalo website, and in Iris, the online magazine of the Getty Museum.

Local Food Experts Engage Foodie Community of South Florida


Click the image above to watch a video of the discussion on May 13. More photos from the event can be viewed on Facebook.

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

Local food experts reflected on South Florida’s abundant natural offerings, strong multicultural seasonings, and rich supply of untapped resources—all shaping the area’s evolving culinary landscape during a panel discussion at UM Special Collections’ Tropical Gastronomies. The event featured chef and cookbook author Norman Van Aken, food blogger and Edible South Florida editor Gretchen Schmidt, and author and historian Mandy Baca.

Mandy Baca is talking.

Mandy Baca, author of The Sizzling History of Miami Cuisine: Cortaditos, Stone Crabs & Empanadas, discusses Miami food history with chef and cookbook author Norman Van Aken and food blogger and Edible South Florida editor Gretchen Schmidt.

Moderated by Special Collections Head Cristina Favretto, the discussion touched on well-established fares and flavors such as stone crabs, citrus, and mangos, the formation of Van Aken’s New World Cuisine, and how recent developments like the farm-to-table movement are shedding light on lesser-known edible flora and fauna. The event was held as part of a UM Libraries-wide exhibition exploring the rich culinary traditions of South Florida, Cuba, and the Caribbean. Vintage restaurant postcards and menus, local organizational cookbooks, and dining brochures from Pan American World Airlines, Inc., and other materials are on display from Special Collections.

During the event, Favretto announced that Special Collections aims to further its collection of food- and cooking-related materials through the establishment of the Culinary History Collection of Florida, and is seeking donations of historical materials such as restaurant menus, local and regional recipe books, oral histories with chefs, and images of restaurants, grocery stores, and farmers’ markets. Individuals interested in contributing to the archive are encouraged to contact Special Collections at 305-284-3247 or

Photos by Andrew Innerarity.


The discussion touched on well-established fares and flavors and how recent developments like the farm-to-table movement are shedding light on lesser-known edible flora and fauna.

Join Us for a Celebration of Roberto Estopiñán on May 28


Join us in honoring the life and work of Cuban-born sculptor Roberto Estopiñán, who passed away in January at the age of 93. The evening will include readings by the poets Alina Galliano and Gastón Álvaro; remarks by Estopiñán’s nephew Victor Alberto Garrido and the art historian Alejandro Anreus; and a recognition of his widow, Carmina Benguría. The program will be followed by a screening of the documentary Artists in Exile: Roberto Estopiñán (1994, 30 minutes) by the late Cuban-American television writer and producer Ray Blanco.

From the artist’s estate per his wishes, a selection of works on paper by Roberto Estopiñán will be donated to the Cuban Museum. The Cuban Heritage Collection has received 46 of his sketchbooks, some of which will be on display.

RSVP now to or call 305-284-4026.

Reception sponsored by the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection.

Special Collections’ Food Chains Screening Opens Discussion on Farmworker Exploitation

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

Food Chains is available for checkout on DVD from Richter Library.

Click the image above to watch a video of the discussion on April 22. More photos from the event can be viewed on Facebook.

Local farmworkers demanding fair labor practices in farm fields are making meaningful changes in one of the nation’s most critically relied on but historically exploited areas of the labor force. An event at the University of Miami Special Collections on April 22 brought together UM students, faculty, and community members for a screening and discussion of the documentary Food Chains: The Revolution in America’s Fields, directed by Sanjay Rawal. The film documents the activities of a group of farmworkers in Immokalee, southwest Florida, in their fight for living wages and workers’ rights.

“Special Collections is a community resource. This is an opportunity to promote meaningful discussion about issues that are close to many South Floridians and affect farmworkers across the country,” says Beatrice Skokan, manuscripts librarian at Special Collections who organized the screening and panel discussion.

IMG_7958-webPanelists included Will Pestle, an associate professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences, Silvia Perez, farmworker leader of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and Natali Rodriguez, national staff member of the Student/Farmworker Alliance, engaging in a discussion on the many issues in farm labor described in the documentary, which premiered at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival and is gaining national exposure on Netflix streaming. Food Chains is available for checkout at Richter Library.

Based in Immokalee, one of the nation’s largest suppliers of tomatoes, the film describes the inhumane realities of the largely undocumented migrant workers who carry out long and strenuous daily physical labor in tomato fields for meager pay. Human rights violations ranging from sexual abuse to slave labor often go unreported out of fear of retaliation or deportation.

“The hardest thing is coming to the realization of how little you mean to the people you are working for,” says Gerardo Reyes Chavez, one of the workers featured in the film who helped form the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) as a means to advocate for a better quality of life for farmworkers. One significant step of the CIW is the establishment of the Fair Food Program, which demands that large purchasers of tomatoes acknowledge their reliance on farmworkers. Participating food retailers and farms agree to pay workers one penny more per pound of tomatoes picked and eradicate abuse in the fields.

Since 2011, major corporations including Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Chipotle, and McDonald’s have signed on to the program, meaning they have agreed to buy tomatoes exclusively from Fair Food Program farms. Since its inception, the program has added $15 million to workers’ payrolls.

Following the film, panelists and audience members engaged in a discussion moderated by Will Pestle. Many questions were directed towards Silvia Perez, a leader of the CIW who appeared in the film, about current efforts of the CIW, such as the continuation of a long-fought campaign to gain the support of Publix, and the spread of their mission to other regions and types of agriculture. Click here to view the discussion.

Silvia Perez, a leader in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, discusses the fight for fair labor standards in a panel discussion following the film. Photo by Andrew Innerarity.

Now on View: Spare Beauty: The Cuban Kitchen

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

View Ellen Silverman's short film, "My Roots Lie Here," at

Click the image above to watch a video of the event on March 5. View Ellen Silverman’s short film, “My Roots Lie Here,” at

A photography exhibition now on view at the Otto G. Richter Library explores life in present-day Cuba as it is intimately reflected in the vibrant tones and textures of homes throughout the island. The wide-format photographic prints featured in Spare Beauty: The Cuban Kitchen serve as vivid windows into decades-old interior spaces, deeply rooted in routine, tradition, and even memories— glimpses of which are brought out through each scene in vivid detail. These immersive scenes are the work of food and travel photographer Ellen Silverman, well-known for her work in celebrated cookbooks, travel magazines, and other artistic mediums. Spare Beauty is one in a series of Silverman’s projects inspired by her travels to Cuba.


Ellen Silverman

“In my first of several trips to Cuba, I was welcomed into people’s kitchens, where I found sparse spaces where time has stopped,” the New York City-based photographer says in her artist statement. “Due to years of lack of money, supplies and equipment, people have been forced to adapt and improvise. While beautiful and visually stimulating to me, these kitchens are the very real circumstances of each person’s day to day life. This series of photographs reflects the personalities and the circumstances of those who inhabit them.”

Silverman visited the library in March for the opening of the exhibition and to present a short film she directed titled My Roots Lie Here, which can be viewed here. Click here to watch the presentation from the event.

This exhibition will run through July 31, 2015 as part of a library-wide exhibition series exploring culinary traditions and influences of South Florida and the Caribbean.

Photos by Andrew Innerarity.


This exhibition will run through July 31, 2015 as part of a library-wide exhibition series.

3rd Annual Free Comic Book Day at Richter


Come by the Richter Library Breezeway on Friday, May 1, from 12  – 2 p.m. and pick up a free comic! We will distribute single volumes (while supplies last) courtesy of Mac’s Comics, as well as coupons to the store. Librarians will be on site with information and samples from Richter Library’s growing Graphic Novels Collection.

Free Comic Book Day is a national event traditionally celebrated on the first Saturday in May. Mac’s Comics & Collectibles will host a Free Comic Book Day event at their store on Saturday, May 2.

UM’s Cuban Heritage Collection Celebrates the Legacy of Maestro Manuel Ochoa

by Rosa Monzon, Cuban Heritage Collection

The exhibit includes a digital component through which viewers can watch videos of performances conducted by Maestro Ochoa.

The exhibition includes a digital component through which viewers can watch videos of Ochoa’s performances.

Maestro Manuel Ochoa, a Cuban exile musician, choral and orchestra conductor, and founder of the Miami Symphony Orchestra, was the focus of a reception at the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC), at the University of Miami’s Otto G. Richter Library. The event served as the official launch of an exhibition that includes Ochoa’s greatest works and documented memories, which are preserved and available for research at the CHC in the Manuel Ochoa Papers.

Ochoa is recognized internationally not only for his numerous contributions to classical Cuban music in the island but also his work in Spain, Austria, and the United States.

Curated by Meiyolet Mendez, librarian at the CHC, the exhibition displays photographs, letters, publications, music scores, and concert programs of Ochoa’s personal life and career. Included is a photograph from the beginning of Ochoa’s career, at the age of 17, conducting members of the Holguin Choral Society, which he created in 1942, even before he had any formal training. Another photograph shows Ochoa leading the Belen Jesuit Choir in Havana years later. Ochoa’s lesson plans and notes on working with child choir singers also are on display.

“One of the most exciting parts of working on this exhibit was the opportunity to bring to life Maestro Ochoa’s entire career,” said Mendez. “I discovered a person who was passionate about music and music education, and who loved sharing that passion with others.”

Also on display is a paper program of the Concierto Sacro, sponsored by the Cuban Catholic Artists Guild, featuring Ochoa’s Coro de Madrigalistas (Madrigal Choir), popularly noted as the best choir in Cuba, in 1956, Havana.

A driving force and inspiration in Ochoa’s life was always his family. One of the highlights of the exhibition is a photograph of his mother, Caridad Ochoa, who was a trained opera singer, plus a tear sheet from The Miami Herald with an article by David Lawrence Jr. celebrating Ochoa as well as his wife and biggest supporter, Sofia Ochoa.

“She was at his side every step of the way,” said their son, Manuel Ochoa Jr. “My father always said she made it easy for him to just stand at a podium and conduct.”

CHC recognized Sofia Ochoa (right) during the event.

Esperanza Bravo de Varona (left), former chair of the CHC, and current chair Maria Estorino recognized Sofia Ochoa (right) during the event.

Sofia’s unwavering support for her husband continued after his death, in 2006. She not only donated his collection but also contributed countless hours as a volunteer in the processing of these records.

“When my mother and I thought about how we would remember and commemorate my father, we wanted a living memorial,” said Ochoa Jr. “We wanted to share his life story so that others, especially young Cubans and Cuban-Americans would be inspired to continue his musical legacy.”

After studying and working in Cuba, Vienna, Spain, and Rome, Ochoa settled in Miami following the Cuban Revolution. On display are photographs of Ochoa’s performances in Miami, such as the first Festiva Symphony Concert at the Colonel Hotel in 1989. There is also a photograph of acclaimed Cuban pianist Zenaida Manfugás, from the same concert.

In Miami Ochoa also created the Society of Arts and Culture of Americas, but his greatest contribution to the city’s cultural development was the creation and leadership of the Miami Symphony Orchestra for more than 25 years. Multiple playbills from its concerts are displayed in the CHC’s Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, as well as audio and videos of performances.

Guests at the reption.

The celebration of Ochoa’s life and legacy took place at CHC’s Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, where the Manuel Ochoa Papers are now permanently housed and available for research.

Considered “the highlight of his tenure with the orchestra,” said Ochoa Jr., was a concert in Carnegie Hall in June of 2000, also represented in the exhibition.

“Maestro Ochoa’s legacy lives on in the Miami Symphony Orchestra he founded and in the lives that he touched through his various cultural activities,” said Maria Estorino, chair of the CHC. “But it also lives on here, in the library, where through his own papers, his life, his work, and his passion can be discovered.”

The CHC is home to thousands of books, manuscripts, photographs, and other materials that document the rich history and culture of Cuba and its diaspora. The legacy of Maestro Manuel Ochoa, as well as countless other Cubans and Cuban-Americans, “will not only be preserved here, but it will be shared with our students and with the community,” said Estorino.

“I hope the Maestro Manuel Ochoa Collection continues to inspire and educate future generations to become musicians and conductors, and keep alive the rich tradition of classical music,” Ochoa Jr. said.

The exhibition is available for viewing through the end of summer. For more information about the Cuban Heritage Collection and its events, please visit

View more photos from the event here.

Photos by Andrew Innerarity.

The exhibit will be available at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion through summer 2015.

The exhibition is on view at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion through the end of the summer.

UML Celebrates the 15th Annual International Edible Book Festival

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 5.40.57 PM

Click the image to view more photos from the event.

The April Fools’ Day tradition of “eating your words” took the form of a feast Wednesday, April 1, in an event at UM’s Otto G. Richter Library that served literary entrées such as “Game of Scones,” “The Count of Monte Crispo,” and “The Com-Plate Works of William Shakespeare.” The playful spread of book-inspired creations were cooked up from across the University community taking part in the library’s celebration of the Edible Book Festival, an event established in 2000 that has sprinkled across libraries and universities worldwide.

“The Edible Book Festival celebrates the intellectually nourishing power of books in a fun and creative way,” says Kelly Miller, associate dean of Learning and Research Services at the University of Miami Libraries (UML).

Kathryn Garcia created "Love in the Time of Chlorophyll," which was inspited by Gabriel García Márquez's "Love in the Time of Cholera."

Student Kathryn Garcia created “Love in the Time of Chlorophyll,” which was inspired by Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera.

The lure for creating and then devouring edible books is strong. Hundreds participated in UML’s fifth Edible Book Day event by viewing and voting on a total of 18 entries, resulting in four winners: Wittiest, “Game of Scones” by Hunter Hewitt; Healthiest, “The Berry Hungry Caterpillar” by Cheryl Gowing; Most Edible, “Telltale Candy Heart” by Vanessa Rodriguez; and Best in Show, “Book of Flowers” by Louisa Norris.

Education and Outreach Librarian Terri Robar, who served as chair of UML’s 2015 festival, says the event has a special draw for readers of varying genres and literary interests. “It’s a way for them to use their imaginations to create something based on the literature that inspires them, and they have a lot of fun translating that into an edible form.”

Entries have only two basic requirements: they must relate to a book, and they must be edible. Hunter Hewitt, a UM student majoring in neuroscience whose take on Game of Thrones won the award for Wittiest, says figuring out the best way to make fantasy elements from the series such as dragon eggs and a wolf’s head into an actual edible form took some research. “[In coming up with “Game of Scones,”] I had no idea scones were so diverse. There were options from sweet to savory with multitudes of combinations along the way.”


Louisa Norris won Best in Show for her entry, “Book of Flowers.”

UML has distinct ties to the festival through its co-founder Beatrice Corón, whose handmade works from cut-paper are housed in Special Collections as part of the department’s growing artist’s books collection. “Artist’s books, like edible books, transcend the boundaries of traditional book forms,” says Cristina Favretto, head of Special Collections, and former chair of UM’s festival. “They engage viewers in a very active and visceral way.”

Whet your appetite on the full spread of edible books here.


After winners are announced all who are present are welcome to dig in to the books.