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Frida Kahlo – Works of Pain and Anguish

One of my favorite artists is Frida Kahlo. Since I am a huge fan of symbolism, her work sparked my interest while taking a humanities course in college. I immediately found myself wanting to know more about her because of the unusual ways she portrays herself in her paintings.

The Two Fridas

The Two Fridas

Kahlo’s paintings convey both physical and emotional pain that she endured throughout her tragic life. She often dressed herself in men’s clothing to rebel and annoy people, but she had issues with her body after having an injured leg from a bout of polio. She’d been in a bus accident when she was 18 years old, which left her with several broken bones, a fractured spine and confinement to a bed for many years. Probably worst of all for her was the inability to have children.


Kahlo often did destructive things, too. At one point in her life, she cut her beautiful long hair to spite her husband, Diego – probably because of his affairs with other women. In return, she also began having affairs and painted a beautiful portrait of herself to give to her married lover.

Self Portrait with the Portrait of Doctor Farill

Self Portrait with the Portrait of Doctor Farill

It seems that almost all of Kahlo’s paintings I found are self-portraits (and a few still lifes). In none of them does she portray herself as a happy person, which leads me to wonder more about this woman. Was she obsessed with festering in her own self-pity? Was she in more emotional pain than physical? Was she a bit of a narcissist? I think the mysteries lie in the symbols of her artwork.

Mirror – Ode to Sylvia Plath – a Poem

Sylvia Plath’s poem Mirror has been one of my favorites since I was a teenager. Mirrors force us to look at things that we don’t necessarily care to see in ourselves.


I see –
the matches
the fires
the blemishes
the needs…
They hurt.

Copyright © 2011 Shannon Hart

Shannon's Creative Work: SELF PORTRAITS &emdash; Mirror - Self Portrait 2005

Boundaries in Relationships: Space Invaders

Have you ever played the game Space Invaders? It came out in 1978, and as a small child I played it until I had blisters on my fingers. I was determined to shoot down the enemy if I couldn’t hide behind the walls that almost always got torn down. Of course, in video games, the game always wins. But in real life, we have the power to control what happens; it’s just a matter of learning how to use it.


One day it dawned on me that the aliens in the game Space Invaders are much like people who are space invaders. (Some people often refer to them as energy vampires.) They invade space and suck the good energy right out because they have no respect for other people’s needs or boundaries.

For instance, the friend that has endless relationship problems – you provide an ear to listen. A week or a month later, same friend, same problem. Six months later, a year, two years  – same friend, same problem. Her relationships literally make her ill, and listening to her somehow starts to make you feel ill as well. You’ve invested countless hours listening (the way friends do for each other) to her rant about her ex or about how everything in her life sucks. Now it’s your turn. You have an issue and need an ear just to hear you vent, and now your friend doesn’t have time for you.

Healthy friendships are based on mutual listening skills; otherwise you are an unpaid therapist.

Sometimes space invaders are determined to selfishly grant their wants rather than someone else’s needs. A friend whose ex would not stop contacting her after she broke off the relationship, even after she ignored and warned him, got to the point of having to call authorities. Obviously, he had no self-control and zero respect for her needs and boundaries. She probably set these parameters at the very beginning of the relationship, translating his actions into flattery and “love” at first, instead of listening to her own needs and boundaries. (Unfortunately, many people do not recognize it, because it’s the way they were brought up.)

plural noun: boundaries
a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.

Another person I know goes out of her way to “help” people with all good intentions, but she does it without their permission – and then expects things to go her way. For example, she was trying to set her friend up on a blind date with some dude that turned out to be a dud (she invited them to the same party without informing the woman of her intentions). Instead of accepting that her friend had boundaries about dating and being set up with complete strangers without her knowledge, she got upset that she “went out of her way” and didn’t feel appreciated. What she did caused three people unneeded stress – her friend for the embarrassment and invasion of privacy, the dud(e) who was embarrassed after getting his hopes up, and herself because she had expectations for something she had no business sticking her nose into.

Even after explaining to a space invader that they have crossed a line (or many lines), explaining that perhaps right now is not the time to continue a conversation, or explaining that right now we may not be feeling well enough to do what they would like us to do, they continue making excuses and finding ways to invade our space… if that person continues to disrespect your boundaries, it’s time to either set the boundaries or let them go. Space invaders will make us crazy, make us literally ill, and make us want to scream.

Shannon's Creative Work: Abstract Paintings by Shannon Hart &emdash;

“The Scream”


In the game Space Invaders, you get 3 “lives,” but in real life we only get one.  But we do have three choices as to how we handle these people: we can either continue allowing space invaders win and slowly kill us, place the boundaries today, or completely end the relationship by announcing: Game Over.


Ode to HG Wells’ “The Country of the Blind” and “The Star”

I wrote this while taking Coursera’s Fantasy & Science Fiction course. The assignment was to write an essay on HG Wells work, but I do things my way. I combined the two stories and created a poem out of it.

She was like a lion,

a big bright shining star

Her mane rose up,

captured the sky

like a chariot on fire,

ripping open

those that surrounded her

Push, pull, push, pull…

Most never take notice

until it’s too late

But the one with one eye –

he notices

Yes, he notices

He sees her bodacious beauty –

mountains rising above him,

he begins to feel caved in


Until he realizes he’s in love.

Shannon's Creative Work: Abstract Paintings by Shannon Hudnell &emdash;

Recalling the Sinking Dream – a Poem

Back before it was Lulu, it was I loved it because there was a page on the website in which random movable words were given in order to create a poem of approximately 20 words. I used the site quite a bit to generate ideas for writing. Here is one poem I wrote using this method:

Recalling the Sinking Dream

Cradling my knees
I cried
–  Begging

to see
to touch
to understand
and to love –

Shannon's Creative Work: Abstract Paintings by Shannon Hudnell &emdash;

Childhood Treasures: Sugar N Spice

Someone made this for me when I was a baby (dated 1974). It is made of some type of ceramic, but very heavy and extremely durable. The little dolls appear to be the Holly Hobbie type. I remember putting random things inside the flower pot at the bottom of it – fake flowers, real flowers, candles, and probably pieces of toys. Today I don’t have anything in it. Perhaps I will fill it with little treasures that I find – things like tiny feathers or loose change.

It amazes me that it hasn’t broken in the several moves that I’ve made over the years. I currently have it hanging in my art/meditation room, where I put other things that make me joyful.


Prophetic Dreams

The very few times in my life in which I’ve had dreams that came true made me have more faith in listening to my subconscious. I don’t understand why prophetic dreams happen randomly over a period of a few years and stop altogether. I dream every night, but none like the ones I’m about to talk about.

Shannon's Creative Work: Bikini Posters &emdash;

In the very first prophetic dream that I recall, I was looking at my best friend and her boyfriend smiling and waving at me. In the dream I had no reaction to them, more as an observer. There was another woman in the dream that I did not recognize, and I didn’t get to see her face. All I remembered was that she had blonde hair and was older. I didn’t remember the dream until later the next day.

My best friend had to drive me to the emergency room. Her boyfriend stayed on the phone with me until she arrived at my house (this was before cell phones). While waiting in the ER, there were several techs in and out of the room. When I saw the older, blonde nurse come in to check on me, I remembered my dream. Everything seemed so surreal at the time. I watched her, she said nothing, but had a peacefulness about her. She came in twice to check my IV, and I never saw her again.

Another time I had a prophetic dream was a few years later. I was dating someone at the time that I will refer to as Mr. Bad News. I had more than one dream about Mr. Bad News cheating on me. Each time, my dreams were telling me something, but I was too stubborn to see what was right in front of my face – until the last time when there was physical evidence. In the last dream, there was another girl with him. I couldn’t see her face, but I could see her long, wavy brown hair. The following day, I visited Mr. Bad News. His neck looked like he’d gotten into a fight with Miss Hoover. The girl he was with? Long, brown, wavy hair.

When I was in college, the CD player in my car stopped working and had one of my favorite CD’s stuck in it. I missed my Chili Peppers’ Californication CD for several weeks until I dreamed that I hit the eject button and it started working again. Initially, I’d forgotten about the dream the next day until I was driving around and it hit me. I didn’t think it was going to work, but I pushed the eject button and miraculously, out popped Californication! I couldn’t believe it!

The dreams I have now are filled with symbolism that takes time to interpret – and even then, still doesn’t always make sense to me. I keep a dream journal, and in a year, I’ve filled two of them!

The Art of Peter Saul – Criminal Medicine

When I was a student at Florida State University, I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing artist Peter Saul. At the time, he was 63 years old and an instructor at the University of Texas. After seeing his work at FSU’s art museum, I was inspired! There was so much detail and elements of story that I knew I just had to write my art education term paper on this awesome artist. This is a portion of my paper and interview concerning his work Criminal Medicine.

The art created by Peter Saul reflects the images of surrealism, pop art, and abstract expressionism. His use of distorted gesture and unrealistic figures imitate the style of surrealists; his bright fluorescent colors and cartoonish style represents the work of pop artists; and his abstract figures mirror the abstract expressionists. Saul’s subject matter usually includes social or psychological issues. Viet Nam became the subject of Saul’s work in the 60s. Some of the artist’s work came from a personal level, such as his “Self-Portrait”. Saul has exhibited his work all over the world, including France, Switzerland (Bibliography) and at Florida State University.

Criminal Medicine, one of Saul’s pieces located in the Florida State University’s permanent collection, was painted with oil on acrylic in 1966. Like his other works, Criminal Medicine is filled with symbols of its time – the 1960s – the flower power, Vietnam era. This piece’s symbolism involves an objection to the war that was so devastating – and so objected – to so many people. Criminal Medicine is about the power the United States’ soldiers had over the Viet Namese. There are chemistry tubes and vials labeled “race mixer” and “criminal medicine”, a U.S. Army sergeant, a female figure with a hat, a house, protruding eyes, musical notes, a cross with an army coat nailed to it, and the word “adultery” labeled nearby a female figure with an embryo in her womb. She sun is shown in different phases: smiling empty-eyed and not smiling. The subjects are overlapped, and the cartoonish colors include bright pink, orange, yellow, green, and silver, with bright and military shades of green and blues. Saul’s style in this artwork is tightly pieced together with black outlining the colors.

Criminal Medicine takes on a deconstructionist attitude, with its contradictions in the social setting. It represents what was behind the scenes of the destructive war – prejudice, pregnancy, and prayer. The racism between both countries was prevalent. The soldiers were impregnating women before they’d leave the country, and there were people praying for their lives to be saved probably more than ever.

In his interview, Saul says that there is a lot of psychology involved in Criminal Medicine. The sun is a curious item in the painting, with its spacey smile on one side and its melancholy look on the other. Perhaps the artist was trying to remind himself that it was still the age of LSD, despite what was happening across the world. Ironically, Saul claims to have never taken LSD or any drug (Interview), although his work appears to be “trippy”.

(Note: LSD was banned in ’66 when this painting was completed.) (“Political Paintings”).

For more information about this piece at Florida State University’s Museum of Fine Art, visit: