My original artwork research is “The Two Sisters” (French: Les Deux Soeurs), oil on canvas, 71 H x 53 W, by Theodore Chasseriau (C) 1843. Location: Musee du Louvre, Paris, France. Depicted are Chasseriau’s own sisters Adele and Aline, which he painted when he was 23 years of age. With my feminist spin, I’ve reimagined an avant-garde image of iconic Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo y Calderon (b. 6 July 1907 – d. 13 July 1954). Her exquisite beauty, grace, and absurd, yet expressive hand gestures are featured along-side Spanish poet, playwright, and theatre director Federico Garcia Lorca (b. 5 June 1898 – d. 19 August 1936). Kahlo’s interests in politics and art led her to join the Mexican Communist Party in 1927. In my imaginary dreamscape world of magical realism, they were destined to become comrades since bonding over concerns of Havana syndrome (first reported by US and Canadian officials in 2016) when they both found themselves on winter vacation in Havana, Cuba. Once the story of their close emotional relationship surfaced, a rumor of their clandestine reunion has since exploded in the tabloids. This is an important homage to Lorca who was assassinated by Nationalist forces after the start of the Spanish Civil War near Granada, Spain, due to his outspoken political views. Lorca was perhaps targeted for being gay, a socialist, or both. His body was never recovered. My Dadaist inspired formal portrait pays tribute to peace-loving radical artists who’ve been ravaged by the chaos and horrors of war.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
RHONDA URDANG has been making and exhibiting her work since 1970. She has had a varied and interesting career; she has worked as a typesetter, museum gallery attendant, apprentice dot etcher, and journeyman color separation artist on high-fashion catalogs in the graphic arts industry in Omaha and Phoenix. Since leaving academia, the patriarchy, and pseudoscience behind, her ingenuity has flourished. Rhonda is interested in making contemporary art that challenges the narrative. The Feminist Art movement has argued that re-appropriation and re-signification is a cross-cultural process by which disregarded or oppressed individuals can reclaim artifacts or images that were previously used in a disparaging manner and uplift them in a way that brings about socio-political empowerment for under-represented womyn. She stays true to her artistic instincts and is always authentic. Since Founding Flagstaff Feminist Art Studio, she has worked in multiple disciplines including femmage, assemblage, book art, collage, digital manipulation, painting, film, and satire. Her thought-provoking works have been exhibited widely in regional, national, and international shows in 40 states. She has lived in Northern Arizona for over three decades. Her work is informed by the people, place, and color palette of her surroundings and by her personal life experiences — arising from what remained of the char. Some womyn are lost in the fire while others are built from it. The struggles for freedom and human dignity along the way were meant to shape her for her purpose. Stargazing has become a crucial aspect of her world on the Colorado Plateau.
© Rhonda Urdang