Duality Melissa à la Two Frida’s
Melissa's reflection on her 4" Binding Unbound book page

Dr. Kraft writes: (chair piece—the “classical” chair represented her Anglo influences, and the “rustic” chair her Mexican influences--and also detail of collage with Neruda poem)

Melissa writes: “[This piece represents] a recurrent theme in my life—the duality of my cultural experiences. From the outside looking in, there may not be many aspects of my life that distinguish it from that of the average White Anglo Saxon individual. I played soccer, went to church every Sunday morning, and took the mainstream culture’s requisite swimming, music and ballet lessons. Yet, there are many other life experiences that separate my upbringing from that of Anglo-American kids. For example, reciprocity and interdependence are paramount in the Hispanic culture, while independence and autonomy are emphasized much more in Anglo American families. As a first generation American whose parents are both Mexican immigrants, differences such as these have sometimes played antagonistic roles and have given my life nuances that re alien to all of my friends and to most of those with whom I interact on a daily basis. [more]

“One of my first recollections of being singled out as the ‘other’ occurred in kindergarten when my classmates badgered me with questions of where I was from. At first I could not grasp the implication of their question, but quickly understood when I said I was an American and they retorted, ‘No, you’re not. Look at your color.’ I again realized that I was in certain ways set apart when I was in junior high and one of my best friends and I were talking about my being Hispanic and she said, ‘Well, at least you aren’t one of those ghetto Mexicans.’ It was at this time in my life that it really hit home that my Anglo friends perceived me as different not only from them, but from other Hispanics. I then would take the time to look around at others in my advanced placement classes and in National Honor Society meetings and realized that there were hardly any Hispanics. . .

“My Hispanic roots also include the issue of machismo—that over-inflated sense of self that Hispanic males have traditionally had. Hispanic men sometimes objectify women and see them sa the subservient members of society. This is of course a traditional view, and the new Hispanic woman strives to be assertive and strong, yet this is still not a fully realized reality for Hispanic women. I included the poems in an effort to deepen the Hispanic/Feminist connection. Undeniably, Pablo Neruda markedly influenced modern Hispanic literature. While his critically acclaimed work reflects the turmoil of the Hispanic avant-garde, his most widely read and recited poems deal with love in conventional, traditional terms. One of his most quoted lines, ‘Love is so brief, forgetting so long’ irked the Mexican writer Rosario Castellanos who responded directly to this line in a poem of her own. She dismisses the blithe romanticism of this canonized poem and infers that the message just serves to promote male dominance in relationships. The disregard for women that Neruda’s poem might imply plays an important role in forming Hispanic women’s identities and has also had an influence on mine. . .

“As indicated by the title I gave my work, I gathered my inspiration of the use of the chairs from the famed Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. Her own search for identity and her need for self-exploration motivated mine.”