Por Qué Amor / Why Love, were dual images (see below) that we created for the Wonderland Gallery exhibit Simply Frida, an annual group art show that honors the art of renowned artist Frida Kahlo.
Jason and I have long been moved by Kahlo’s heartbreakingly complex works that symbolically tackle gut-wrenching topics of abandonment, abuse, and betrayal, while also championing resilience, strength and unapologetic confidence. In Por Qué Amor we explored the emotional and physical suffering that result from “loving” relationships that are laced with aggression, cruelty and pain. As a survivor of an abusive relationship, I (Stacey) can relate personally to the emotional struggles of seeking nurturing love only to unwittingly cultivate a relationship fraught with emotional and physical pain.
For our piece Para Olvidar el Amor / To Forget Love, we chose to address the isolating vulnerability someone in an abusive relationship endures as they struggle to remain peaceful despite the deadly accuracy of the hurt. We also sought to represent the frustrating reality that even as the victims try to “forgive and forget,” all to often abusers repeat their ill-treatment again and again.
In Sufrir el Amor / To Suffer Love, we wished to symbolically represent how often we choose to protect and cherish the destructive emotional and physical behaviors that cause such pain.
When embarking upon this series, we drew direct inspiration from Kahlo’s art including The Wounded Deer, 1946 (left); The Broken Column, 1944 (center); and a series of photographs taken through the years of Frida wearing a Mexican Flower Crown most commonly seen as a Day of the Dead Headpiece (right).
With these images in mind we began by stoically posing a woman in a manner that we that could be modified later with digital painting and CG. During shooting, we like to sketch in real-time on top of the images to work out our ideas. We also made a very loose sketch of an accompanying heart that would serve as a complementary still life (right).
The CG elements for these pieces were sculpted, painted and rendered in Zbrush. The flower crown, earrings, string, and bandaids were photographs that were composited. The background was taken of a stunning old wall at Alcatraz.
Below are the images shown together as a diptych.
It is astoundingly difficult to break free and rise out of abusive relationships. We hope these images from Por Qué Amor speak to those who have suffered abuse and despite their injuries have found self-worth and strength.