Coming into this course I did not know how to properly analyze art or for that matter how to research the subject in any meaningful way. I accomplished what I set out to do. I gained insight into how to properly do research and conduct analysis. Now, I feel more confident going forward. On the whole, I enjoyed my time in Murals and am happy with what I took away from the course as well.
Going into the group activities and peer editing I was excited to get a second or a third pair of eyes on my paper in order to hone my ideas as well as my writing. Being paired with other students with similar topics helped considerably because although we were researching different subjects the overlap in our research allowed us to critique and add helpful insight that would have been omitted otherwise. When you are dealing with your project by yourself things can sometimes become tedious and boring quickly. Working in a group with others can help foster increased interest for yourself in your work and you have the ability to do so for others as well. Overall I enjoyed working within these small groups and peer editing circles.
I have been fascinated by the idea of the miscegenation and how mixed race people have been traditionally treated as well their role in society. Oftentimes they occupy a realm of social strata that is bar none one of the least desirable, having been outcast from both of their tribes. Additionally, (as was the case with mixed race people in South Africa) these mixed people are in the smallest minority making their situation that much more harsh. To make matters worse progress in terms of these mixed peoples’s civil liberties is oftentimes slow and difficult to bear fruit. That is why when I learned of the great progress that the “Los Tres Grandes” (and especially Orozco) was making after the revolution to pivot the national identity away an white european one, I knew thats what I wanted to explore more in depth.
Going into research process I knew I needed to find sources pertaining to miscegenation and Orozco’s role in promoting the culture and prominence of the Mestizaje. Given that this was a very narrow topic I was initially concerned that I would not find enough suitable sources. However, this could not have been further from the reality of the situation. When I went to look at the list that had been provided by Dartmouth summon I was completely inundated by sources. The tricky part of the process was attempting to pick the most salient sources from the list because there would be some that had information that was slightly good for my topic but possessed too much tangential information for it to actually be worth it. When I had sifted through the results I found that I was left with a couple of books that were promising but I was left with a nagging need for more primary sources. I then remembered the letters that Cortez had written during the conquest of Mexico and found their translations on the American historical society website as well as other documents surrounding about the war and Malinche.
Knowing which directions I wanted to go specifically in my paper proved initially challenging but after mapping ideas out and rereading some of my sources I began to get a more clear idea of where I needed to go. From there I crafted a thesis statement that laid out the main ideas of my essay. It started with the beginning of Mexico with Malinche and Cortes and their impact on modern Mexico as well as the evolution of the social/racial system and ended with the impact of Orozco and other artists on the traditional social molds. I then set up a bare bones version of the Cortes/Malinche paragraph to act as a spring board for the rest of the essay.
I found the movie very fascinating especially its capacity to portray the complicated relationship between Rivera and Kahlo. I had trouble understanding why both of them stayed with each other despite the many slights each caused the other (infidelities, altercations and strife). However, Frida made me fully realize the extent to which, as Frida put it, their “souls were intertwined”. Furthermore, this tumultuous relationship emphasized how much pain Frida endured on a daily basis. The extent to which this physical and emotional anguish helped guide her work, was astounding. Kahlo’s dramatic renderings of herself in painted form were transmuted perfectly under Taymor’s direction. The director’s keen eye brought a sense of vibrancy and life to her paintings and flowed perfectly with the narrative. Moreover, I believe that Taymor’s determination to place a degree of emphasis on Rivera’s work helped to assert that he was the more famous part of the couple during their lifetimes. Additionally, through this onscreen focus it demonstrated that Rivera helped to propel Kahlo’s art career. While some may this lack of focus on the eponymous character irksome, I think it touches upon the realism of the situation and the characters’ lives.