About sokorra

A thirty-something Graphic Designer and writer who likes to blog about books, movies and History.

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

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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

Announcement About This Week’s Posts.

For those of you looking forward to my friday Women of History posts, You may have noticed that I never posted on Friday.  I had part of it written, except there is remarkably alot out there on Frida Kahlo, my featured person.  So instead of getting just one Women of History post this week, you are going to get 3.  Frida’s post is going to be cut into two (Today and Wednesday) and I will return to normal scheduling on Friday with Rosario Castellanos.

I’m also going to pause and state that I welcome suggestions for the Women of History posts.  I have already taken a few requests already, but I’m always open to learning more about the women out there that made (or should have made) the history books.

I am also considering doing a more indepth version of these posts for Nano this year, with the plans for maybe a e-book (with more sources of course) at the end of it.  But we will see.  I also have a few novel ideas as well.

Back on topic, Frida’s story – part one – will be posted later tonight. Hope you all enjoy reading it.

Disclaimers Discussion

Recently I came across a social media post that had a screenshot of a conversation about the history of disclaimers.  It made me want to revisit the topic, which I wrote about during my Fanfic Primer series.  A Disclaimer, traditionally, has been a notice on any piece of fan-made media that explains that the content is based on someone else’s creative property and the creator of this media is not out to make money on it.   When I first started writing in middle school, everything had a disclaimer.  It was common practice particularly on fanfic.  Culturally, fanfic had not quite made it as a true expression.  People still saw it as plagiarism, and an attempt to use someone else’s creativity instead of your own.

The amount of conversations I had with people who asked me when I was going to start to write something real was high.

There was also a fear of getting punished for your fanish endeavours in your public life.  Fanfic archives were password protected at times, and disclaimers could be lengthy.  Some creators of the original content *would* at that time pursue fan-content makers.  Anne Rice in particular had a history with prosecuting fanfiction writers.  Fanfiction.net won’t allow fanfiction based on her works, and authors of content from that time have found themselves sent cease-and-desist letters, or further.   Anne McCaffrey, an author I love had the opinon that having others play with her characters would be hard to keep seperate, so she made a forum for the fanfic and allowed it no where else.  Whether or not that kept her from actually seeing it, I’m not sure.  I haven’t participated on that forum in many years, so I also don’t know if they have loosened up on that since her death.

I feel disclaimers are important for a multitude of reasons.  Historically they protected people (or at least attempted to) from being accused of trying to make money off of someone else’s intellectual property.  But it was also a place to show that you acknowledge you are taking some leads from other sources. This is where I think it is still important.  While places like Archive of Our Own, and general culture have given fanfic more respect as a medium, an author should still acknowledge the author of source material.  Any source material.  This is why I am glad that AO3 has allowed author notes sections where I can credit any other sources outside the main one I tagged as well as thank any betas/helpers that helped out.

Fanfic itself is not only for free anymore as well.  If you go on Amazon and type in Pride and Prejudice you can find hundreds of variations and adaptations to the classic novel.  Some are free on Kindle Unlimited, others are not. Other older books are simular.  However, the balk of fanfiction is made by people who either want to play in universe that they love, or want to see where the story go go.

So while a debate can exsit on whether disclaimers are necessarily needed when its clear contextually that its a fanfic, I think they are important to keep at least in theory.  It can be used in a author’s note, or a full traditional disclaimer.

What do you think about disclaimers?

Women of History: Katy Jurado

Authors Note: I apologize for any horrible Spanish used.  Most of my translations are either US Titles provided on IMDB or use of Google Translate as my Spanish is rusty.

Since it is May, and May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) is tomorrow we are going to have a theme of Mexican (or Mexican-American) Women of History for this month. Our first woman featured is Katy Jurado. Katy was a Mexican actress who eventually had a Hollywood career. Continue reading

Camp Nano Roundup & May Looking Forward

So its May, which means Camp Nano is over at least for a little bit.  The next camp Nano is in July.  I started the month with a goal  30,000 words. Unfortunately I ended up taking my goal down to 15,000 after I spent half the month sick or otherwise unable to write.

On the bright side, I did in fact meet that goal. I got a little over 17,000 words for the month and a couple of chapters finished and waiting for posting which was part of my goal.  I did not finish any of my stories or the song drabble prompt series but that’s okay.  Camp Nano is just about trying, so I don’t feel quite so bad about not meeting all of my goals.

I plan on using May to try to finish the WIPS I listed for my April goal, but I have no word count goals or anything like that.  Also I will be starting to plan my November project, getting the research/pre-writing done before the month begins.  It will make Nano a lot smoother.

There is no theme for my May posts, and I’m still planning out the month.  I do know that friday I will be posting the Women of History series, focused on Mexican women of history since its Cinco de Mayo this month.  In the US it’s a day celebrating Mexican-American culture, although in Mexico its a military observance day celebrating the battle of Puebla that occurred on May 5, 1862.

There will also be some book reviews, although I haven’t finished any recently so it will be as I read them rather than a back log of reviews.

Hope everyone is having a lovely Spring.