Rebecca Wolfram | Art Sidebar | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Art Sidebar

Rebecca Wolfram


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


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."

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment