The World of Frida part 1

 The colors of the Chinese embroidered silk applique (crane and dragon) Frida used to adorn her red leather boots. (acrylics)

The colors of the Chinese embroidered silk applique (crane and dragon) Frida used to adorn her red leather boots. (acrylics)

In March of this year I began work on a submission for The World of Frida juried exhibition at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, California. The show, which runs from July 8th through September 16th, celebrates the culture, style, and persona of the highly-influential artist Frida Kahlo. Along with juried and invitational artists' works, the show features a national, traveling photography exhibit titled Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray that makes a stop in Walnut Creek after traveling across North America.(organized by the Nickolas Muray Photo Archives and GuestCurator Traveling Exhibitions).

 Nickolas Muray,  Frida on White Bench, New York  (detail), 1939. Courtesy of the Nickolas Muray Photo Archives and the Bedford Gallery.

Nickolas Muray, Frida on White Bench, New York (detail), 1939. Courtesy of the Nickolas Muray Photo Archives and the Bedford Gallery.

My research for this project began online. I scoured art sites and the like but was left uninspired, so I visited the Berkeley Public Library and came across this gem: Frida by Ishiuchi, a collection of riveting, intimate photographs taken in 2011 by highly-acclaimed Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyako. The photographs were of Frida’s personal belongings, wardrobe, and medical apparatus hidden from the public for fifty years following her death. I was immediately hooked!

 Drawing inspiration from Ishiuchi's photograph of Frida's red leather platform boot to create my color palette to represent the main elements photographed.

Drawing inspiration from Ishiuchi's photograph of Frida's red leather platform boot to create my color palette to represent the main elements photographed.

The image that captivated me most was that of Frida’s brilliant-red leather boot and cuff with prosthetic leg. This literal extension of Frida stands majestic in spite of the disability it represents. The longer I studied the photograph the stronger my connection to Frida became and the more compelled I felt to elevate the importance that Frida placed on costume and color as a means to shape her own narrative; fighting valiantly to not let her disability define her. 

 I used varying gauges of annealed wire to create the structure of Frida's boot with leather cuff and prosthetic leg. And just as Frida did, I wired two tiny jingle bells to the "laces".

I used varying gauges of annealed wire to create the structure of Frida's boot with leather cuff and prosthetic leg. And just as Frida did, I wired two tiny jingle bells to the "laces".

I used wire to capture the firmness of Frida’s convictions and the physicality of the elements. I imagined myself marching alongside her as I shaped varying thickness of wire into lace openings, leather ties, contours of the raised heel, and the Chinese embroidered silk applique. I even attached two tiny jingle bells, just as Frida did, to announce her arrival on walkabouts. I paired this with a ribbon of soft canvas color swatches: the warm browns of the leather cuff, the pale fleshy colors of the prosthesis, the bright red hues of the boot, the brownish black of the sole, and the vivid threads of the Chinese crane and dragon embroidered silk applique.

 I sewed soft, painted canvas swatches to the background canvas using 34 gauge annealed wire. The swatches represent the colors depicted in Ishiuchi's photograph.

I sewed soft, painted canvas swatches to the background canvas using 34 gauge annealed wire. The swatches represent the colors depicted in Ishiuchi's photograph.

In late April I learned my piece, "Adorned Boot", had been selected for the exhibition by jurors Lisa Congdon, fine artist, illustrator and author, and Rebecca Gomez, Curator of Exhibitions and Programs at the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, TX. I am deeply grateful to these ladies and the Bedford Gallery for this opportunity to participate in this special exhibition and for the promise of befriending more artists in this community.  Thank you!

 Finished artwork: "Adorned Boot" - 20.5" x 20.5" x 1.75" frame with acrylic glazing, canvas, acrylics, annealed wire (varying gauges), and jingle bells.

Finished artwork: "Adorned Boot" - 20.5" x 20.5" x 1.75" frame with acrylic glazing, canvas, acrylics, annealed wire (varying gauges), and jingle bells.