In an effort to expose students to different cultures and allow them to see and experience the world beyond classroom lectures, the SSI Department, along with the Multicultural Organization, Co-Curricular Programs and the Social Equity department, showed the film “Frida” as the second part of the Contemporary Issues program.Students from Latin American Studies, Basic Writing, Spanish and the Arts departments came together Tuesday evening for a presentation about Frida Kahlo.
“I saw ‘Frida’ because of my interest in art, with a possible career as an art historian. I’ve heard a little about the struggling story of Frida Kahlo before, but I wanted to know the whole story. By seeing this movie, it meant more to me because I found that she was a very strong and beautiful individual rather than a helpless, uglydamsel. Frida was the prime example of female empowerment, or empowerment in general, because somehow, despite all she had been through, she still prevailed. I really enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to those needing some inspiration,” said freshman Jessica Madeira.
Kahlo was one of the most influential female Latino artists, and her life provides an example of determination and optimism.
At a young age Frida suffered from polio and at the age of 18 was in a tragic trolley accident in which she was severely injured for life.
Following the accident, she met her husband, Diego Rivera, a fellow Mexican artist. Rivera sparked much controversy through his art by focusing on socialism, the revolution of the Mexican people and exposing the world to communistic thinking. Their marriage was tumultuous and included affairs, illness, separation and divorce.
Throughout her later years, Frida experienced many illnesses, but also much praise from the artistic world. Many of her works were self-portraits, perhaps because she saw herself as a vehicle for self-improvement. Her work was very expressionistic, painting from her many painful experiences and from her heart.
Frida played an important role in the change of thought towards modernism and the rise of women, especially in the artistic world. Her paintings reflected the pain she experienced throughout her life, making her work symbolic and meaningful. Although she experienced so much pain, her greatest attribute was remaining positive, optimistic and determined.
Although Frida died in 1954, her work continues to express the need for people to open their eyes to the world around them and the hopeful message of optimism and determination.
Today, Frida Kahlo’s pieces are some of the most sought after pieces of artwork. The Philadelphia Museum of Art currently does not show a piece of Frida Kahlo’s work, although they are seeking to add her work to their collection.
“I participated in this presentation as part of my Basic Writing course. I found the film very interesting from a historical standpoint,” said freshman Lee Jankauckas.
However, the most important part about Tuesday night’s presentation was not just the biopic of Frida, but the aspect of challenging students to see beyond the confines of West Chester, looking outwardly to contemporary issues that Frida fought for and still exist in our world today.
“The film is important to cultural diversity to allow students to see a perspective beyond the traditional American or European ways. The film also displayed a person with a disability, yet one who became a survivor.
Hopefully through these programs, we can open the eyes of our students, to the determination and optimism of this influential artist,” said Dr. Ginger da Costa, Art Department. In the case of “Frida,”
Mexico is on the border of the United States and many of the issues presented by “Frida” still affect the lives and ideas of people and even students on this campus.
By seeing a film and having an open discussion about the piece, students are provoked into thinking and discussing, more so than listening to a lecture where the potential to be distracted is great.
The third installment of this program will include the film “Hotel Rwanda,” followed by a discussion panel. The film displays, in a brutal recount, the genocides that occured in Rwanda in the mid-1990’s. A review of “Hotel Rwanda” will be featured in a future edition of The Quad.