Amy, Frida and Sylvia – stories of love, loss and freedom.
“Perhaps some day I'll crawl back home, beaten, defeated. But not as long as I can make stories out of my heartbreak, beauty out of sorrow.” ~ Sylvia Plath
These three artists are the epitome of 'confessional' poetry, painting and music – Sylvia plath, Frida Kahlo and Amy Winehouse. Their art echoes their life and themselves, on the good days and the bad. What they made stands stronger in the context of their lives. They wrote about their love/ their lack thereof, their pain/ their strength, their insecurities/ the wisdom that sometimes accompanies it. It's like a pendulum swinging from one side to the other – from darkness to light.
Sylvia plath is an honest yet mysterious poet. Her poems are not understandable unless you know her life, her troubles and her pain. In that context, her art is in perfect congruence. It takes strength to confront the unsettling parts of life as this poet did. Her poems are littered with her own struggles juxtaposed against the struggles of humanity. Her pristine childhood is one she has bottled up and locked away. She criticizes her father and their relationship, compares him to Hitler and asks why people assume authority over others. She expresses her morbid desires for her own death and the possibility for peace after life. Its unforgiving honesty in Plath that makes us take a good hard look at ourselves. By holding up a mirror to herself, she is holding up a mirror to all of us.
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do” ~ Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo a Mexican painter who painted 145 pieces in her lifetime, of which 55 are self portraits. Its moving, eerie, yanks an emotion from somewhere deep inside. In her paintings, she shows herself to the world, exposing her insides. She paints herself in casts after her accident; her binary identity - that of a Native American woman opposite to her dutch heritage; and the boldest, maybe even disturbing portrait is the one of her after a miscarriage. She painted lying on her back, holding the brush with her teeth after she met with an accident. She had herself carried on her bed to her art show because she was too sick to travel. Courage in the face of ailments was how she painted herself. The paintings convey that strength to the viewer. Exposing our scars and scabs is a way to say 'see, we are all flawed'
Amy Winehouse is contemporary. She died young but its her music that stands out in spite of her tragic death. Her songs are a translation of her life – one of abandonment and broken dreams. She takes tough conversations, things she has said, things that have been said to her and puts them into her songs. The men in her life find central focus a lot. She asks them, confronts them through the melody. Would her life have been the same without the music? ... What we do know is that her music changed the narrative around a lot of taboo topics. There is something powerful in the act of taking something ugly and transforming it into the beautiful.
'I don't say things because I'm bitter. I say things everyone else is thinking but no one dares to say' ~Amy Winehouse
Darkness and creativity are unlikely partners in a dance. But they do tango sometimes. The reason why these artists stand out is because they let the pendulum swing the other way through their creativity. They took whatever their life gave them, all the sludge and grease and turned it into fuel. Looking at their works, human life does not seem to have changed much. But somehow we are connected across time by the commonalities of our experiences.
Take whatever life gives you and turn it into fuel for you. Nobody else is going to.