“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world, but then I thought, there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels flawed and bizarre in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this, know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
― Frida Kahlo
First of all, don’t get me started on Freda Kahlo.
Yes I taught high school art, and yes, I thought Freda Kahlo was a freak!!
Way out there on a limb kind of freak.
Not her work per se, but her life in general.
She was a mess.
Not, in my opinion, the poster child of a role model for kids.
I once had a student, who had done a marvelous rendition of the self portrait of Freda as the colonial Mexican woman verses the modern woman, —as there were the two woman seated side by side, each in custom dress of the times and there was blood.
Lots of blood.
Which of course symbolized the “tie that binds” between the contrast of both woman who resided within the one single woman. A quasi self portrait of the two Fredas.
A contrast and a conflict–all nice and neat–rolled into one with severed arteries and lots of blood, spilling out on a colonial victorian white ornate dress.
A bit off putting to a mild mannered observer.
We were to always have art work on display at the Board of Education office. The ladies who worked down at the BOE were always a bit, shall we say, intimidating and reserved.
Yet they always loved it when the high school would send work down to be displayed–as the work was quite exceptional—not because of their teacher, but because I always had some exceptional kids.
I debated sending the Freda piece, knowing how “the ladies” were, but yet I knew the work was indeed exceptional.
I sent it, against my better judgement.
That whole, “I know how they are, yet I know good work when I see it” kind of conflict a high school art teacher must constantly rankle over.
Sure enough, they called up to the high school asking that I please take the one particular piece back, bringing them something a bit more “happy.”
Hence the story of Freda in a nutshell and of how her work could effect her viewers— as she had that eye for shock value.
But it wasn’t until I showed a PBS documentary, for my kids one day in class, —a small biography piece on Freda, that I finally developed an appreciation for the person she sadly was—her tragically sad life and the circumstances surrounding her growing up, her marriage, the horrific accident, the love / hate relationship between her and her much older husband (and may I add much less attractive) Diego Rivera as well as their dabbling in to communism and an alleged affair with Mr Trotsky himself—ode to the heady times of revolution—
All of which played a part in the building of the person of Freda Kahlo.
And so it is with today’s quote in mind–a sweet thought regarding the position of being a stranger in a strange land—as Freda so eloquently states, that somewhere there is truly someone who is sympathetic and empathetic to the plight of the “newness” of a stranger.
And so it is, with Freda’s wonderful quote in mind, that I step out on the new and foreign soil of southern Texas wondering. . . is it just me, or are the locals all staring . . .
(duck, pigeons, sparrow –locals of San Antonio, Texas / Julie Cook / 2014 )