“I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.”
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist during the 1940s who mostly worked through art but also wrote. When she was nine years old, she had a pain in her leg that was diagnosed polio; she recovered and had a limp. It was her father that taught her how to overcome the bullying she encountered afterwards. He did this by teaching her how to run, swim, and box; things that were considered unladylike in that time. As she grew up, she stayed the strong woman we all know and love. She lost love at the age of 14 due to suicide and when she did marry, her independence ultimately led to the marriage’s demise. In her younger years she wanted to be like her father. She wore a suit and tie often and with her sisters and mother in the house, it seemed odd, but she was pushing forward in making a statement that not all women had to act or dress a certain way. (#NotAllWomen)
In 1925, Frida was in a terrible bus accident where a hand rail went through her hip. Her clothes were ripped off in the crash and someone’s gold dust had fallen all over her. It is said that they had to put her back together like a puzzle because her leg and hip were broken in at least 11 places. It was after this that she became more political minded and more activist-like in her actions.
In 1939, she went to live in Paris. This is when she became friends with Picasso, and other famous artists of the time. While in Paris, she painted one of her most famous works, The Two Fridas (pictured below). The painting shows two versions of herself sitting side by side, with both of their hearts exposed. One Frida is dressed in white and has a damaged heart, the other is wearing bold colored clothing and has an undamaged heart. These figures are believed to represent “unloved” and “loved” versions of herself.
She went through more health issues and went into the hospital for her final time in 1954 when she passed away.
*Moment of silence*
So what does this mean to a woman born and raised in the U.S.A? To me, it means that women shouldn’t be held to certain standards of how to act. It’s something I constantly struggle with as a woman who doesn’t necessarily fit in the cultural standards of how a woman should look. Growing up, I was close to my grandfather who, yes had tea time with me, but also taught me “manly” things like; poker, black jack, dominoes, football, baseball, how to ride a bike, how to look for change in the pay phones, and to always take off my cap when coming indoors after playing outside. When I came out to my parents as not-straight, they started to think that I liked those things listed above because I wanted to be a boy. Of course, this isn’t true by any means. I’m fortunate enough to not get stoned when I want to wear a suit but I would think she had similar issues. People making fun of her because of how she acted or held herself. I guess it just makes me more confident in who I am. It makes me realize that I’m doing alright for myself despite not looking or acting like a lady. She kept it very real with her audience and researching her has taught me to keep it the same way regardless if it’s an audience in the concert hall or the audience of students I end up teaching. Her art spoke about what was seen around her, not what she wanted to see. We, as artists, need to do the same.
Coyle, Damien. “Alfonso Monreal, Fenderesky Gallery at Queen’s 5-22 September 90.” Circa, no. 55 (1991): 35-36. doi:10.2307/25557590.
Doyle, Jennifer. “City of Angles.” Art Journal 71, no. 1 (2012): 151-55. http://0-www.jstor.org.lib.utep.edu/stable/23279676.
“Frida Kahlo.” Biography.com. November 29, 2016. Accessed January 31, 2017. http://www.biography.com/people/frida-kahlo-9359496#related-video-gallery.
PBSukchannel. “The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo | PBS America.” YouTube. October 26, 2012. Accessed January 31, 2017. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jYWKoMFjnbs.