Frida Kahlo 2015 NYBG
Villalobos Brothers and Humberto Flores named Musical Artists in Residence and Musical Curators for the 2015 Frida Kahlo Exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden
Tree of Hope, Keep Firm
Árbol de la Esperanza, Mantente Firme
Violins and voices, speak of justice! Brushstrokes, guitar harmonies and rhythms, inspire us to grow a garden of sound!
Kahlo’s mystical aura and larger-than-life persona have been a source of inspiration for countless artists in every discipline and in every continent. Her iconic depictions of her own life distilled through incalculable pain, beauty and heartbreak, have left an indelible mark on our collective subconscious.
To talk about Frida is to talk about Mexico. And yet, her influence is universal, perhaps because she used Mexican folklore mostly as a conduit, not a destination.
With this Artistic Residence, we hope to achieve the same. We want to find the commonalities, the shared enjoyment of music, the universal values – while at the same time recognizing the struggle and the suffering that our own country is going through.
In 1933, after spending more than three years in America, Frida wanted desperately to return to Mexico. Her husband Diego, however, remained fascinated by the United States and did not want to leave. Out of the conflict came “Allá cuelga mi vestido” (My dress hangs there), a collage representing an ironic portrait of American capitalism and superficiality. Filled with symbols of a modern American industrial society, it pointed to social decay and the destruction of fundamental human values. In this painting, Frida takes an opposite view to her husband, who was expressing his approval of industrial progress in a mural in the Rockefeller Center (“Man at the Crossroads” was later destroyed by Nelson Rockefeller after Diego Rivera refused to remove an image of Lenin) . What is missing from this painting is the focal point of nearly all of Frida’s paintings…herself. Instead, Frida’s Tehuana dress hangs empty and alone amidst the chaos in the background. It may be her way of saying “I may be in America but only my dress hangs there…my life is in Mexico.”
For many of us, this last year has felt a lot like that. We may be living here in the States, but our minds and hearts are connected now more than ever to the tragic events unfolding in Mexico, in places like Tlatlaya, Iguala, Ayotzinapa and other cities, where students, and increasingly teachers, have been paying the ultimate price in their struggle against corrupt governmental forces.
For this reason, and drawing on our own experience as an immigrant family living and working in the United Sates, we hope to paint a musical self portrait. Like one of Frida’s many, ours will hopefully be a nuanced, passionate offering; full of joy, beauty and delicate harmonies, but also resilience, a deep connection to nature, and lots of perseverance and idealism.
As Mexican-American artists, we feel honored to represent the Latino communities living in the United States. When we break the silence by pressing our bows against the strings, the acoustic canvas of the New York Botanical Garden will be forever connected to Frida’s “Casa Azul”, her blue house in Mexico City. With our violins and our songs, we will create a living bridge between Coyoacán and the Bronx.
THE VILLALOBOS BROTHERS:
March 9th, 2015