21st Century Frida
Day 21, three weeks to go.
My wonderful art history teacher, Caterina Pierre,(http://www.marcellosculpture.com/reviews/index.php) made my day by sending a note exclaiming “You are the 21st century Frida Kahlo!” What a thrill! My teacher, whom I admire and respect, compared me to one of my idols and one of the great artist women of the 20th century!
Lying on my living room sofa, after returning from the ER with a cast up to my knee and the prospect of three months off my foot, I was terrified. I tried to contemplate what my next three months could look like. Used to the independence of having a subway on my corner and a car at my disposal, I saw my world shink to the first floor of my house. Even the prospect of bumping my tush up the carpeted steps to the second floor and hobbling down the long hallway to my bedroom, seemed a distant possibility. Compounding the impact was the fact that I broke my right ankle, my driving foot. This will leave me with no wheels other than those of my wheelchair.
So what to do? I conjured up artists’ images, many of whom endured pain, illness and hardships during their lives. My mind returned to Frida Kahlo, who was in a trolley car accident when she was 18 (after having contracted polio 3 years earlier) and suffered such severe injuries that she endured surgeries, long periods of immobility and amputation during her short life. On a visit to the National Museum of Women in the Arts (http://www.nmwa.org/, I saw the contraption that Frida spent much of her recovery in—it was a cross between a corset and a cage. http://www.nmwa.org/news/news.asp?newsid=280)LookingMore like an instrument of torture rather than one of healing, my body felt much the way I envisioned Frida. Thankfully, my injuries are nowhere near the scope of Frida’s but the caging of my body felt much the same.
Frida was able to paint through her convalescence, much to my amazement. As you see from her pictures, she painted her heart and soul, ruthlessly depicting her most available model, herself. Her beauty, her flaws, her culture and her pain all are on her canvases, confronting the world.
I am hoping to create a series during my convalescence that will depict some of my emotions. This will be very different from my usual fare, which tends to see the joyful side. Already I have committed imagery to paper in sketches but have yet to get back to painting. Stay tuned.
While working with my students, I delved into the world of mask making. Working with them led me to explore what this format might look like in my own art making. This mask, Black/White, is made from paper board, found materials, paper mache and acrylic paint. I love that masks tread in a world between 2 and 3 dimensions; they are sculptures that hang on the wall.