Frida Kahlo Steps Out
“Oh, I’m so bored!”
Millie jumped, startled. She’d thought she was all alone in the Diego Rivera Theatre lobby, where she, a docent, was locking up after a group viewing of the Diego Rivera Mural of Pan American Unity. The mural, painted during the Artists in Actions exhibition of 1940, was a carefully guarded treasure, so she was supposed to be the last to leave before setting the burglar alarm and locking up.
“I can’t stand it a moment longer!” the voice said in beautifully accented English. When Millie located the source, she saw that it was coming from the center of the mural. Frida Kahlo, a palette in one hand, was extending her other hand beyond the usual confines of the mural.
“My God!” exclaimed Millie.
“Take my hand and help me out, and I’ll paint your portrait,” Frida Kahlo said.
“Go back!” Millie said. “You can’t just step our of the mural like that.”
“Because I’m in charge here, and I’d get in trouble if you disappeared. I’m in charge of keeping people out and components of the mural in.”
“You keep people out?”
“Not if they have a scheduled tour,” Millie said. “But I keep out thieves and art desecrators.”
“Please help me out. Just for a little while. I just hate this passive pose, being gawked at all the time when what I really want to do is paint.”
“I’m afraid I’d get in trouble. You’re the very center of the mural.” Frida Kahlo once again extended her hand. “If you help me out, I can get out more easily and the mural won’t be destroyed in the process.”
“Oh, my God!” Millie said again taking Frida Kahlo’s hand and helping her step out.
“What time is it?”
“My goodness! I’ve been trapped in there for sixty years. No one should have to stand still that long.”
“I don’t understand. All this time you stay put, and suddenly today you just step out? Why now?”
“I couldn’t stand it a moment longer,” said Frida, turning around and looking at the mural. “Sometimes you have to step back to get the full picture.” Her eyes settled on the spot where she was no longer standing and then on Diego Rivera, who was painted behind her missing form, holding hands with another woman.
“Oh, how typically Diego!” Frida said. “As I stand with my idle pallette, he’s carrying on behind my back with another woman.”
“That’s Paulette Goddard, an actress famous in the thirties and forties,” Millie said, getting into her docent routine. “And the lit up tree you see is called-“
“He’ll never grow up. That infant, that great monster…”
“Oh, that’s what you say in the video we show. I Paint What I See ...”
“What’s a video?”
“Oh, you have been stuck in there a long time. You’re even on the Internet now-a whole web site. www.riveramural.org.”
“I think I need to be filled in on a few details,” Frida said. “Could you bring me up to date?”
"Well, we've just entered the new millennium!" Millie responded. "and things have changed a lot for women over the past sixty years."
Assignment 1: Finish this story. What can Millie do or say to sum up women's issues--problems and progress--over the past sixty years?
Assignment 2: Finish this story. Imagine that Millie decides to bring Frida Kahlo up-to-date on women's issues by taking her on a tour of San Francisco. Where will she take her? What will she need to explain?
Assignment 3: Finish this story. Imagine that Frida Kahlo wants to go off on her own to explore, so Millie takes her place in the mural. What will Millie experience that women might not experience today?