Frida Kahlo: Crossing Cultural Boundaries

Celia Stahr

ART 195
Core F

Course Description:

Frida Kahlo’s bold paintings and captivating persona are usually discussed in relation to her Mexican homeland; however, the artist spent three years (1930-1933) in the United States during a formative period of her creative and personal development.  How did this extended stay shape her ideas, her image, and her powerful paintings?  In order to answer this question, the class will map Kahlo’s journey through the diverse cities of San Francisco, Detroit, and New York.  We will pay close attention to the historical and art historical circumstances of the early Depression era as well as examine how gender and ethnicity were socially constructed in 1930s America.   Ultimately, we will delve into these various issues in order to better understand what happens when an artist crosses cultural boundaries and is faced with a new place that possesses different norms, expectations, and social practices.

Faculty Bio:

Celia S. Stahr, Ph.D., has a background in Modern and Contemporary art history as well as African art and the Diaspora.  Her secondary areas include Native and Mesoamerican art and visual culture.  She is particularly interested in artists who cross cultural boundaries and the political, social, artistic, and psychological ramifications of such actual or imagined “border” crossings. Stahr has published essays on artists such as Friday Kahlo, Elaine de Kooning and Yong Soon Min. She is writing Frida Kahlo and the American Experience, a book that contextualizes Kahlo and her artistic production within the historical and social circumstances of San Francisco, Detroit, and New York during the Great Depression.