Three Fridas (2015)

For clarinet, string quartet, and optional live painterThree Fridas cover - Nina Shekhar
Duration: 15 minutes

I. Self-Portrait
II. Henry Ford Hospital
III. The Wounded Deer


Program note:

Frida Kahlo was a woman of extraordinary resilience. Severely injured in a bus accident at age eighteen, she suffered from lifelong health problems, having 35 surgeries as a result of the accident. She began to paint to escape from her extreme pain, creating over 140 paintings symbolizing her own physical and emotional wounds. Three Fridas focuses on three of these: Self-Portrait (The Frame), Henry Ford Hospital, and The Wounded Deer.

I. Self-Portrait (The Frame) (1938) is an experimentation of mixed media. Kahlo was known for her self-portraits, remarking, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” This self-portrait is unusually brighter than her others, symbolizing her optimism even while experiencing constant pain.
II. Henry Ford Hospital (1932) depicts a naked Frida lying on a hospital bed. Kahlo suffered a miscarriage in Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Having pierced her uterus in the bus accident, she was unable to have a baby for the rest of her life. Connected by umbilical cords to her stomach, six figures hover around her hospital bed: a female torso, a snail, an orchid, a machine, a fractured pelvis, and a perfectly-formed male fetus. Each represent the agony of the event and her shattered hopes of the future.
III. The Wounded Deer (1946) portrays a young stag with a head of Frida mortally wounded by arrows. Kahlo expresses her disappointment after her failed spinal operation which she had hoped would relieve her back pain, as well as her emotional wounds from her tumultuous marriage with fellow artist Diego Rivera. Yet the deer is still running despite her fatal wounds. Even through her horrific physical and psychological anguish, she keeps fighting to survive.

“I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.” – Frida Kahlo


Audio recording:
Jakob Lenhardt (clarinet), Grace Kawamura (violin), Lian Ojakangas (violin), Abigail Choi (viola), and Julia Knowles (cello)



February 15th, 2016Three Fridas - Nina Shekhar (write HEAR right NOW 2-15-16 concert poster)
write HEAR, right NOW
(University of Michigan Student Composers Concert)
Performed by Jakob Lenhardt (clarinet), Grace Kawamura (violin), Lian Ojakangas (violin), Abigail Choi (viola), Julia Knowles (cello), Siena McKim (live painter), and Simone Shemshedini (visual artist)
Britton Recital Hall, Ann Arbor, MI

April 2nd, 2016
Threads All Arts Festival: Marathon Concert
Performed by Jakob Lenhardt (clarinet), Grace Kawamura (violin), Lian Ojakangas (violin), Abigail Choi (viola), and Julia Knowles (cello)
The Yellow Barn, Ann Arbor, MI

July 26th, 2016
Bowdoin International Music Festival:
Artists of Tomorrow Series Concert
Performed by Adam Gallob (clarinet), Wan-Chun Hu (violin), Andrew Ng (violin), Alexandra Simpson (viola), and Samuel Viguerie (cello)
Studzinski Recital Hall (Bowdoin College), Brunswick, Maine