As the summer continues to play out, and the US Women won the World Cup, AGAIN, I think it timely to introduce you to one of my very favorite painters of all time, Frida Kahlo. Why now? Nu? Like RBG, Frida is my hero. Born on July 6, she would have been 112 today.
That is slightly older than me.
Frida was a brave and mighty girl who grew to be a revered painter and overall bad@ss Mexican woman. I just know that if she were alive today, she would have given that gonif (thief) mrt, a well-pointed barb or two for his deplorable and despicable treatment of Mexicans, and all immigrants everywhere.
I’m trying very hard to stay focused and not go off on this topic when concentration camps are surpassing summer camps and conditions are horrific.
Frida’s childhood inhabited the chaos of a dictatorship
sounds familiar during the Mexican Revolution. Such timing taught her to be outspoken about her views and values sounds familiar. By her early 20’s, she was a proud member of the Mexican Communist Party I am a proud, card-carrying member of the ACLU. She was never afraid to use her voice to speak out for her heritage, and her country sounds familiar.
At the age of 6, Frida battled polio. From then on, she was plagued with health issues. As a teen, she was severely injured in a bus/trolley accident. Her legs, already weakened from polio, were gravely damaged as a metal handrail crushed her pelvis, fracturing her spine, legs, and feet.
After the accident, she was left bedridden and wearing a medical corset around her torso. She began to paint to beat boredom. Her mom, she had a special easel made so Frida could paint while lying on her back. Such a mitzvah! (good deed). She did many self-portraits, and later asked famed Mexican painter, Diego Rivera, a K’nocker (big shot), to critique her work. In time, they married and their stormy relationship, and fiery moods and tempers filled many a canvas for Frida.
If we cannot do what we will, we must will what we can do. Aoyb mir kenen nisht ton vos mir veln, mir muzn veln mos mir kenen.
Never farfaln (hopeless, lost), Frida always brought her own personality, chronic pain, relationships with men and women, miscarriages, medical procedures, and deepest feelings into her paintings. She also managed to add female strength, grit, and empowerment. Her work always spoke about indigenous culture, nature, gender, class, identity, and race in Mexican society. She painted her view of the world around her, her reality, for all to see. This is why she vehemently opposed being labeled as a ‘surrealist.’
Frida is revered for her naive, folky style, bright, bold colors, her love of Mexican culture and many portrayals of the female experience from a feminist perspective. She is a hero to many more than just me. She is an inspiration for many artists, people with chronic pain and disabilities, the LGBT world, and women everywhere.
Quotes from Frida Kahlo:
Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?
I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.
There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.
At the end of the day we can endure much more than we think we can.
Frida, she died way too young. She was only 47. Such tsuris (troubles, grief), always. She was found dead by her nurse at 6 am on July 13, 1954. It is said that she died from a pulmonary embolism. Gutinue (OMG), just imagine what more she could have accomplished if she were other-abled! She never once kvetched (complained) or let her illness, chronic pain, or disabilities stop her from living her life to the fullest.
Frida, her glass was always half-full. She lived every day with strength, dignity, and pride. May we all be so lucky. May I follow her bad@ss lead.
A bie gezunt. Go in good health.