Women of History: Rosario Castellanos

This week seems to have a theme of Mexican women who are in the arts born in the early 19th century.  Rosario Castellanos was a poet, activist and author who became associated with the “Generation of 1950”, a poet’s group that gained popularity following the end of WWII.

Rosario was born in Mexico City on May 25, 1925 to a family of ranchers in the state of Chiapas, so she grew up in Comitán. During the years before her birth, landowners in Mexico had a hold on the power structure.  Her family was of mixed heritage and had indigenous servants. She was an introverted child and found herself at odds with her family.  She didn’t care for the way the indigenous people were treated, and her relationship with her mother was estranged after she proved to favor her brother.

When she was 9 years old, President Lazaro Cardenas passed and enacted the 1934 Agrarian code which redistributed land from the wealthy elite and changed the social-political makeup of Mexico.  It also effected Rosario’s family, as much of their property was confiscated.  The country had spent much of its recent history with the power being in the hands of wealthy landowners, and the redistribution of land broke up that power hold.

When she was 15 she moved to Mexico City with her parents. Unfortunately, within a year, both her parents had died, leaving her and her siblings orphans.  She enrolled in the National Autonomous University of Mexico, studying literature and philosophy.  She also joined the National Indigenous Institute, developed by President Cardenas, to help promote literacy in impoverished sections of the country.  She also began writing for the newspaper Excélsior.

It was while she was at the school that she met Ricardo Guerra Tejada, a fellow academic and philosopher.  The two married in 1958. The two of them had one son, Gabriel, born in 1961.  Rosario suffered from depression and fertility issues and would have no more children. She and Ricardo divorced in 1971 after Ricardo’s infidelity came to light.

In 1960, she published Ciudad Real, a collection of short stories that focused on the differences between selected groups.  It dealt with both racial and gender related bias. She also became the press director for the University a year later. She also taught at the university and had visiting professorship in various universities across North America. In 1963, she wrote Oficio de tinieblas or in English as The Book of Lamentations in one translation and The Office of Darkness in another. The story recreates a native rebellion in a more modern time period.  The struggle of native people was an influence over much of her work.  She was inspired by also by two Catholic authors as well, including Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz, who I profiled several weeks ago.

Rosario’s work was varied.  She was dedicated to improving literacy and women’s rights in Mexico.  She also served in several governmental positions, culminating in being assigned in 1971 to be Mexico’s ambassador to Israel in 1971.

Rosario died on August 7, 1974.  She was 49 years old, and her death was an electrical accident.  She left behind a body of work that showcased the idea of feminism in Mexico as well as better treatment for indigenous people.  She holds a high spot in Mexico for both her literary and governmental pursuits.  Two of her works were published after her death, as well.

Most of the sources of information about her that appear in English online appear to just repeat the same information. There are several sites and videos in Spanish that may include information but unfortunately my Spanish is not good enough to translate that quickly.  I’m also sure offline there is more information, if you are interested in learning more about Rosario and her works.  Amazon has several of her published works in Spanish.

Further Reading

Wikipedia:  Rosario Castellanos

Wikipedia:  Cardenista Land Reform 1934-1940

Encyclopedia Britannica: Rosario Castellanos

Rosario Castellanos was one of Mexico’s greatest Poets – Constance Grady (Vox.com)

Rosario Castellanos – Beth Miller (2012)

 

Master List

Women of History: Frida Kahlo (Part Two)

(See Previous)

[WARNING: Paintings linked within in this post may have triggering content]

1937 also happened to be when Frida became more productive as an artist, with several self-portraits and other paintings.  She began to exhibit her paintings despite her own doubts about her talents.  However, others did not have the same doubts and she became more recognized as an artist in her own right, rather than just the wife of Diego Rivera.

Her first solo exhibition happened in New York City in 1938.  She managed to sell half of her paintings despite it being the great Depression, and her exhibit was also attended by several famous artists and public figures.  It brought more attention to her art and earned her two commissions.  One was for A. Conger Goodyear, who was the President and founder of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) which remains a major art museum.  Another was for Clare Boothe Luce, a socialite and political activist who commissioned a portrait of her friend, Dorothy Hale.   The painting depicted Hale’s suicide, with writing on the bottom with the details of the event. The painting was controversial due to what it depicted.

This would not however be the last time that a painting of Frida’s would be considered scandalous or controversial.  In fact, the following year she traveled to Paris for another exhibit of her artwork only to find the gallery refused to showcase most of her work.  They found it too controversial for their audiences.  However, on the brighter side the Louvre bought one of her paintings.  The Frame (1938) was the first artwork by a Mexican artist that the famous art collection had bought.

Frida moved back to her childhood home, La Casa Azul, in 1939 following her divorce from Diego. She would remain there until her death, living at times with her husband and/or her sister and her children.  The 1940s were a productive time for Frida, although her health started to decline even further.  She tried new mediums and substrates for her art and starting making art that was considered more sellable to support herself.

She continued to exhibit her art in Mexico and the United States, attending three separate exhibits in 1940 alone.  Some of her more famous paintings were painted while she was back at La Casa Azul.

1940 was troubling year personally however.  While her artistic work seemed to be going higher, her personal life and health suffered.  She was arrested and held for two days in Mexico City as she was investigated when her former lover, Leon Trotsky, was killed.  It was suspected that she, and her sister Cristina, knew who the murderer was.  She was released, however.  She then found herself in San Francisco soon afterwards dealing with various health problems, including a fungal infection and back pain.

While she was in San Francisco she was reunited with Diego, and the two reconciled.  They remarried in a civil ceremony on December 8, 1940 and returned to Mexico together.  Their marriage remained as it was before, with both having affairs.  Diego kept their old home in San Angel as a second apartment and his studio despite living at La Caza Azul.

Her health problems continued, as she had chronic pain due to her spine, her hand infection became a continuing problem, and at one point she was treated for Syphilis.  She went through twenty-eight different casts in 14 years due to the pain she lived through. She also suffered from depression after her father, who she had been close to, died in 1941.

One highlight of the 1940s was that Frida’s artwork had gained more notice in her native Mexico, and she was a member of the Seminario De Cultura Mexicana, a commission of the Mexican government to spread awareness of Mexican culture.  With the Seminario, she held various exhibitions, attended conferences and other promotions.  It led to her accepting a teaching position in a local national Art school called La Esmeralda.  Eventually her illnesses prevented her from having classes on campus, and instead she held them within her home and studio. Her students, known as Los Fridos for their devotion to her, continued her ideal of painting from Mexican culture and life.  Her own works continued to be somewhat controversial, but she always kept to what she wanted to express.

In 1945, she faced another health setback.  Her pain had worsened to the point that she could no longer sit or stand for long periods of time.  She traveled to New York for a surgery, but in the end the surgery did not help.  Like she always had, she painted her emotions into her art, such as The Wounded Deer (1946).

In 1950, she once again tried to get a bone graft, but it was not a smooth recovery, and several follow-up surgeries were required.  At this point, Frida was forced to use either a wheel chair or crutches to move around.  This did not stop her from being politically active or continuing her paintings.  She got an adjustable easel so she could paint from her wheelchair, and campaigned for a ban on nuclear weapons. When Doctors told her she needed to be on Bed rest and therefore could not attend her solo exhibit in 1953, she had her bed delivered to the gallery and had herself carried by ambulance and stretcher to it so she could attend the event.

As the mid fifties arrived, Frida’s health declined rapidly. In August 1953, only months after her exhibit, she had a leg amputation due to gangrene.  Her depression increased, and she became addicted to painkillers according to some sources.  At times she was suicidal and was hospitalized in 1954.

She was active till the very end, both as a political activist and as an artist.  In 1954, she released at least four paintings and she also attended a demonstration against the CIA invasion of Guatemala with her husband in July.  However, her activity did nothing to help the illness, and on July 13, 1954 Frida passed away at the age of 47.  Arguments about what actually caused her death appear to differ between various sources.

She was laid in state at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, a cultural center, and a communist flag covered her casket. She was later cremated and her remains displayed in an urn at her home, La Caza Azul.  In her memory, Diego allowed her childhood home to become a museum to his wife’s artistic career, and for the promotion of Mexican history, culture and art.  He died in 1957, and the museum opened a year later.

Frida left behind a legacy in her art, and in her courage to do what she wanted despite people telling her she couldn’t.  She never let people change her into something she rather not be.  She preserved through physical pain and made artwork to express her life in a surrealist way.  Many people relate to her artwork.  Many people also relate to her, whether it is her feminism, her politics, her disabilities, or her bisexuality.

Her artwork has only increased in value, setting records for sale prices for Mexican artists. Two Nudes  in a Forest (1939) for example was auctioned in 2016 for 8 million dollars.  Interest in her art and her life have increased over the last few decades due to new biographies (such as Hayden Herrera’s Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo -1983) and the fact that in 1984 her works were considered national treasures and Mexico prohibited any more from leaving the country.

In more recent years, the biopic Frida (based on Herrera’s biography) was released in 2002 and stared fellow Mexican Selma Hayek.  It won several Academy awards.  She also gained a mention in 2017’s Coco.  In the US, she got her own postage stamp in 2001 and was inducted into the Legacy Walk in 2012.  In the past year, Mattel released a Frida doll as part of her new Women Role Models collection.

Further Reading:

Wikipedia: Frida Kahlo

Wikipedia: Diego Rivera

Wikipedia: Mexican Revolution

Biography.com: Frida Kahlo

Lisa’s History Room:  Frida Kahlo An Accidental Artist

Frida Kahlo.Org

The Frida Kahlo Foundation

Mattel Unveiled ‘Role Model’ Barbies for International Woman’s Day and I’ve never felt less Inspired – Biba Kang (Independent)

Mattel.com:  Barbie celebrates Role Models

Diary of a Mad Artist – Amy Fine Collins (Vanity Fair Magazine -1995)

 

 

Women of History: Frida Kahlo (Part One)

Frida_Kahlo,_by_Guillermo_Kahlo_3
Frida Kahlo;  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Guillermo Kahlo; 1932
Frida Kahlo is a well-known artist and will be our featured Woman of History this week.

[WARNING: Paintings linked within in this post may have triggering content]

Frida was born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon on July 6, 1907 in a small suburb of Mexico City.  Her father was a German immigrant to Mexico, Guillermo (born Carl Wilhelm) Kahlo.  He was a photographer, so the art bug came naturally to Frida.  Her mother was Matilde Calderon y Gonzalez, a Mexican born woman of indigenous and Spanish descent.  Guillermo and Matilde had four daughters together: Matilde, Adriana, Frida and Cristina.  Frida also had two half-sisters named Maria Louisa and Margarita, but they played a lesser part in her life.  Frida would be especially close to her younger sister Cristina. Continue reading “Women of History: Frida Kahlo (Part One)”

Accuracy or Story, That is the question

Recently I have been watching quite a few period pieces.  Some were complete fiction, others based on true events or actual people.  And its made me ponder the thin line between entertainment and bad accuracy.

There is of course a balance one must keep when doing a period piece.  The story has to be interesting, engaging, with the ups and downs that keep an audience enthralled.  Yet, at the same time, people like myself like to see historically accurate stories.

For some this is relatively easy, especially those that took place in recent years.  For example, Apollo 13 (1994) which is based on a real-life event that took place in April of 1970.  It’s not only one of my favorite films, but it is also one of the films I’ve seen a very real effort to keep things as real as possible without losing the entertainment value.  So while it’s not word-for-word, and they added a few dramatic arguments (after all, the events took place over a week and they have to pack that all into 2 hours), it’s still fairly accurate.  They even went as far as filming scenes in low gravity to make more realistic movement for the space scenes.

Another example is The White Queen (2013).  Now this film takes place in the 15th century during the war of the roses.  And it tends to go more towards creating a good story than depicting the actual events.  Not that I still didn’t enjoy it, but there were some things that happened in the mini-series a quick google search or a Wikipedia search could tell you happened differently.  And since my knowledge is not high on English history as much as it is American history I’m sure there were other moments that would drive my friends who are crazy.  Of course, it’s harder to be as specifically accurate when there is about 500 years and a lack of photographic evidence to really examine.  Facts from this period of time are constantly being reevaluated as new sources of information are found, or someone notices something in what has already been found no one really took note of before.  But there are some general facts to get straight.

I enjoyed the series, but mostly because of the cast, who did a brilliant job in making me not care that not all the facts were right.

So I suppose the question is – when you watch a film, mini-series or TV series based in a specific era, about real people, do you want more accuracy or more story telling?  Would inaccuracies done to make things easier to understand to a chosen demographic make you less willing to watch (for example, the costuming decisions in CW’s Reign)?

What’s your opinion?

July Goals

Its that time of the month again where I go over my goals sheet from the start of the month, see if I accomplished anything I set out to do, and start to make a new goal sheet for the next month.  I’m posting some of them here to basically feel more accountable for them since other people know of them.

THis month didn’t go so well as I ended up not doing ANY of my goals.  So many of July’s goals will be roll overs as I try once again to accomplish them.

Assisting me this month as far as writing is Camp Nano, which I talked about last night so hopefully I will actually achieve the 50,000 word goal for the month.  This should also help me with my goal to catch up with the drabble prompts from a challenge I am doing.  I also hope to finish alot of various fics.

And now t hat recap of last night’s post is over, I also am rolling over some health goals.  I want to reduce my sugar intake (less pop, resist the temptation that is 99 cent cake slices) and also start doing pilates regularly to perhaps ease some of my back pain and help me be healthier.  Maybe start using my phone health app a bit more regularly to track my meals to see what exactly I am eating.  (A good bet is not enough of the right stuff, too much of the yummy but not good stuff)

I also plan on continuing to try daily drawing goals, and to take classes on Lynda to assit me in bringing back my motiavation and actual follow through with graphic design.  I feel like my artistic muscles are atrophying.

I also hope to update a few of my websites that I run, try and get them spruced up.  Partispate more in my creative online communities, and read a few more books.  I’m at the halfway mark for my goal I think (either 25 or 26, I need to check my record), but I need to keep up with the reading because not only is it a relaxing activity for me and helps me keep my stress levels within dealable boundries but also because I’m determined to reach that goal this year.

I’ve got Hunger Games queued up next (among the other 5 books I’m in the process of reading). I’ve already read it, so I’m not sure if I’m going to review it, but I might make some Hunger Game themed posts as I read through the series.  One you might see this month is a post on my changing thoughts about Gale Hawthorne.

And maybe I’ll start posting that rewatch series of Gilmore Girls since the new season is approaching.  (I’m excited yet afraid…)

 

 

Resolutions & Goals

new-years-day-1054594_640
Source: Pixabay

Every New Years, a popular tradition is to make a set of resolutions for the coming year. And its almost a tradition to fail at keeping them too.

This year I’ve decided I’m not making resolutions.  I’m making goals.  While its not really all that different, when you say “Goal” that puts less stress on meeting it while still being a motivator.  It also allows you to be more flexible.  If a goal needs altered, it feels less like a failure.

My goals for 2016 are as follows.

  • Write on this blog every day.
  • Write on 750words every day.  For those who don’t know, 750 words is a website that is dedicated to keeping people writing by setting a daily goal of 750 words.  You go on there and you get points for keeping up with your writing.  It also gives you statistics on the mood of what you wrote, how many pauses and breaks you took (basically any break in typing over 3 minutes) and various other data.  Its a good tool if you have trouble getting yourself writing.  Its also a good place for brainstorming because it saves all your entries for the month, so you can go back and see what you wrote when you just sat down and wrote for 30 minutes or so.
  • Revitalize my graphic design portfolio.  Revitalize my love for graphic design.  Start an Etsy store and start earning income for what I went to college for.
  • Get a new day job.  My current job gives me too much stress for not enough money to pay all my bills.
  • Read 52 books. My friends and I have a yearly project where we try to read at least 50 books in a year.  I decided to make it 52 this year as there are 52 weeks in the year.  As I have only once made it to 50, we shall see if this was a good idea or not.  The basic premise is that I will read books available in (e)print  (ie Fanfiction doesn’t really count, sadly) on their own (so book on short stories is one book, you can’t count it by story).  Also it needs to be primarily reading, so math text books don’t count either.

    It will effect this blog as I will do a review/end notes for each book I read this year.  I will also keep a page listing all my books for the year along with links to their review/commentary post.  This will be tagged/categorized as bookit  (Does anyone else remember that program?  I hope it still exists.)

  • Read a book on each president so I know one thing about each of them other then they were President at some point.  So far I’ve only done Washington, and of course I know all the presidents Post Reagan.  I might make this a running post of mine.  Perhaps that is tomorrow’s Post topic – What I learned about Washington.
  • Draw each day.
  • Finish an original novel.  Also finish a couple of my fandom related projects.  Get my WIP list down to under 10 (its at 30+ right now)
  • Learn to drive.

 

I don’t know how many of these goals I will manage to achieve, but I felt that writing them all down on a post might give me more motivation to keep it.  After all, I told everyone I would do it, didn’t I?

So here’s me keeping at least one of my goals for the day.  Now to just do my 750 words writing and start reading Jane, Stewardess of the Air Lines  by Ruth Wheeler which is an old novel.  The copyright inside my copy reads 1934.

More Typography Quotes

Form follows function-that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.

Frank Lloyd Wright

“Designers provide ways into—and out of—the flood of words by breaking up text into pieces and offering shortcuts and alternate routes through masses of information. (…) Although many books define the purpose of typography as enhancing the readability of the written word, one of design’s most humane functions is, in actuality, to help readers avoid reading.”
— Ellen Lupton (Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students)

 

And I am still Alive

Sorry for the non-updates.  I’ve been so busy in school that haven’t had time to post anything here.  But alot has happened since I last updated.   School’s over, I wrote a small novella that I’m currently working on revising.  I’m partispating in a virtual season, I have updated my Deviantart account with photographs and have several art projects on my to do list.

I’m currently working on a review of the Pride and Prejudice movies.  Lets hope that goes well.

My Writing: A Self-Analysis

I made myself promise to write in this blog at least once a day.  I plan mostly to write about my writing, and my artwork/graphics and not my personal life since I already have an online journal for that. 

So what about my writing?    I write mostly fanfiction, and a little original.   I’ve been nominated for awards twice, but haven’t won, both for the same fandom (Stargate SG-1/Stargate Atlantis).  Most of what I write is one-shots because while I can have full length novels running around in my head, it has a hard time translating to words on a piece of paper or Word.  I sometimes write better when I’m on a computer then when I have a blank notebook in front of me.

I’ve always liked to write.  My earliest stuff that I can remember were poems and homework assignments for Creative Writing class (Short stories) in 9th grade.  I think the first story I wrote that I still have is a story called “The Wing” which was in responce to a challenge in CW to write a horror story since it was almost halloween.  In my story the main character moves to England and finds her next door neighbor, and the father of the guy she likes, is a Vampire.  Its not that good (It goes too fast), and one day I’ll rewrite it into a better and longer story.

Continue reading “My Writing: A Self-Analysis”