Skip to main content

Reading Objects 2019: Student Edition

Image of item
Emil Nolde
Head of a Woman, ca. 1910
watercolor (paint)
watercolor (painting)
48.26 x 35.56 cm (19 x 14 inches)

Johnathan Trout

Undergraduate- Pyschology

Class of 2020

Head of a Woman

        My father never approved of my lifestyle. He disowned me at the ripe age of 16. It’s unfortunate to hear, but easy to understand. That’s what one does when their son won’t marry. I believe he was first suspicious of my intentions when I decided to let my hair grow. To feel the strands of my red lush curls gently caress my shoulders was invigorating. I could dance with my hair, I could play with my hair, and lastly, I could live with my hair. His suspicions only grew as I got older. I remember one time I thought he was gently holding my cheek, but then slapped me once my blush began to smear on his thumb. What can I say? I love to wear red.

        Growing up in a town where nothing happened and on a farm where your best friend was a cow, you seem to crave excitement anywhere you can find it. Stealing mothers make up was one of my guilty pleasures along with wearing her clothes. She was always so understanding of my behavior. She would even let me borrow her jewelry on days where father left town. I should’ve known she’d figure out it was me. It’s not like the farm animals needed eyeliner. We would often laugh and have tea parties attempting to be flappers expressing our wealth.

        Unfortunately, she passed away during one harsh winter and I was left alone with him. I begged for father to bring her to a hospital but he insisted we wait out the storm. She died holding my hand. There is a silver lining though, my father never got rid of her clothes.

        One night, on the cusp of spring, I decided to dress like her. I wore her favorite blue evening dress, put on her favorite red lipstick, and fashioned my hair into a bun. That was when my father walked in. At first glance, he called me by my mother’s name. As we stared at each other in silence, a single tear fell from his face. I couldn’t tell if it was because of how much I looked like mother, or because he realized he had lost a son. He let out a single scream of terror and fell to his knees. I wasn’t surprised by his actions. A woman with red hair has the power to make such an impression. Over the course of the next few days, I decided it was best if I leave. The man was still mourning over the loss of his wife and son. Oh well, women are more powerful on their own anyway.