Rebecca Wolfram | Art Sidebar | Chicago Reader

Rebecca Wolfram 

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Except for a cat who stays in the basement and shies from men, Rebecca Wolfram lives alone in her century-old house in Little Village, painting in her attic studio and playing the violin. In the front room, which doubles as a private gallery, are five small paintings of women in the branks, or scold's bridle, a head-size iron cage with a serrated bit used in 17th- and 18th-century Britain as a punishment for gossips. On a lamp shade Wolfram has drawn scenes from "Delgadina," a medieval song about a king's daughter who refuses her father's order to sleep with him, then is locked in a tower until she dies of thirst. The ballad is still popular in Mexico, and Wolfram's fascination with the story grew when she mentioned it to her neighbors. "Everybody knew it," she says. "They could sing the whole thing." Not all her work is quite as dark. True, there are 45 drawings of Grendel's mother, who kidnapped and slew a Dane to avenge her son's death and was herself then killed by Beowulf. But the pictures show Grendel's mother in happier times--making love to Grendel's father, nursing baby Grendel--and in her youth. Wolfram says, "I imagine that as she entered puberty she became a monster."

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