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About my self-portrait

Self Portrait with Archetypes, 1992This oil painting was my final project for both an oil painting class and a women's studies class in college. The assignment for the painting class was to pick a painter from a list given to us, then paint something in the style of that artist. I picked Frida Kahlo, a Mexican-German artist who led an extremely colorful life. Horrifically injured in a streetcar crash in her late teens, she endured over thirty operations and much physical pain throughout her brief life. Consequently, she had a lot of time to herself during recovery periods and started to paint. Of her many self-portraits she said, "I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best."

In my painting, the birds carrying banners recall her use of such motifs in Mexican folk art. The top banner depicts a Venus symbol and the word "woman" in English, French, German, Polish, Hebrew, and Arabic; the bottom banner depicts the astrological symbol for Earth and the word "goddess" in the same six languages, which I chose because I speak and/or have studied each one to some degree.

The window into my head is reminiscent of similar self-portraits of Kahlo's. The archetypes depicted come from a book about Jungian archetypes by the professor of the women's studies/psychology class I mentioned. I'd have to find the book to refresh my memory of the name of each archetype, but I do remember Wanderer, Warrior, and Lover. I came up with this selection of archetypes based on taking the book's test, which would assess which ones were most important to me at that time of my life (1992).

The pose, facial expression, and idealization/exaggeration of certain physical features are also trademarks of Kahlo's style. Finally, the yin-yang at the throat and the ankh earring are just there because I like their symbolism.


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