Lecture brings work of influential Latina artist to life

More than two-dozen students gathered on Wednesday, Oct. 19 for a program that blended art, history and culture as smoothly as paint on a canvas.

One person who knew quite a bit about that process was Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, the subject of the lecture, which was titled “The Empowerment of a Latina Woman.”

Ricardo Miranda, fine arts coordinator and assistant professor of art at the College, remembers a “rediscovery of Frida Kahlo” in his hometown of San Francisco in the 1980s. He brought this enthusiasm for the study of Kahlo to the College while speaking at the event held in Brower Student Center.

In a poll taken prior to the lecture, only half of the students in attendance said that they were familiar with Kahlo and her work.

After a review of the social and cultural customs of her time, it was possible to picture the world in which Kahlo lived.

Through her abstract and symbolic paintings, one could see the ways in which Kahlo perceived this world. Miranda quoted Kahlo as saying that she did not consider herself a surrealist because she painted the reality of her own life.

The methods that Kahlo used to express her reality were mainly symbolism and abstract representation. Despite the abstract nature of her expression, these paintings allow others to see the world as Kahlo saw it, and therefore to understand her with more clarity.

“I liked the way the speaker incorporated a lot of visual material,” Andrea Nate, senior Spanish major, said. “It really helped to support (Miranda’s) main ideas.”

One piece that was used was a scene from the biographical movie “Frida,” which depicted the bus accident that physically disabled Kahlo, but greatly inspired her artistic career.

After the accident, Kahlo was able to dedicate most of her time to her paintings, many of which expressed the pain and anguish that she experienced.

It was this same movie that inspired members of Lambda Theta Alpha and Chi Upsilon Sigma, two Latin sororities, to organize and sponsor this event. A viewing of the movie based on this 20th century artist, starring Salma Hayek, aroused a desire in these students to share the legacy of this fascinating woman with their peers.

After watching the movie, Fe Almanzar, senior Spanish and secondary education major and a member of Chi Upsilon Sigma, realized that this was a topic that a wide variety of students would find interesting and informative.

“Our organizations both do a lot of academic programming,” Almanzar said. “We wanted to do something interesting or fun that would attract a different crowd – a more artsy crowd.”

It seems the organizing groups were pleased with the artistic event and its turnout.

“(I knew) this would be a great program because a lot of people don’t know about (Kahlo’s) history,” Johanna Fulgencio, senior Spanish and criminology and justice studies major and member of Lambda Theta Alpha, said.