I AM-Frida Kahlo
Rooted in a deep respect and appreciation for Aztec civilization. Frida’s Mexican-ness and fascination with her mixed-ancestry lent itself to placing Aztec symbols, such as monkeys, skulls, and flowers, in many of her paintings. As a child, she never had good health. At age 6, she was diagnosed with polio because of the infectious disease, which would cause her to walk with a limp all her life, which she would be made fun of. Therefore, she would wear long dresses to try to cover it.
It was her father that would show her how to overcome teasing and loneliness, through what was then considered unladylike behavior, at the time with his encouragement she boxed, wrestled and swam.
Frida would grow to denounce colonialism & developed a strong sense of "Mexicanidad," a term used to describe an affinity and admiration for indigenous Mexican culture. At the age of 18, she was traveling by bus and a streetcar crashed into it. She broke her collarbone, two ribs, and her leg was crushed, her foot and her shoulder was dislocated, but probably the most painful were the injuries to her spine and pelvis that broke in three places.
Her injuries were so extensive; the doctors did not think she would survive, but a strong spirit like Frida could not be crushed. She was unconscious for several weeks when she woke up she immediately asked her father to buy her art supplies. He was the person who designed a special stand for her so she could draw lying down.
Frida would continue art and decided to show her work to a respectable and experienced artist (Diego.) He thought her work was very good. Something clicked between them and they got married in 1929. Following her marriage to Diego, she embraced folkloric attire and began wearing the colorful Tijuana dress she is now known for; it is traditional for the matriarchal and represents a culture of female leadership and independence. They were an unlikely couple, her being 21 and him being 41. The couple had a nickname the elephant and the dove, but they entertained each other and were never bored.
In 1939, Frida headed to Paris where she had to meet artists such as Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso who loved her work. Frida became pregnant several times, but all of them ended in miscarriages. Frida would never give birth to a healthy child and she sunk into depression. This is when for the first time consciously Frida decided that she would paint about herself and that she would paint the most private painful aspects of herself and not only that, but to use a genre that is Mexican, that is religious, political & traditional, to best convey that she painted her pain.
She soon divorced from her husband Diego. Frida valued her self-portraits a lot, because many of them were an expression of her difficult life & the revolution. She said quote “Before it was my earliest experience — I am only a cell in the complex revolutionary mechanism of the peoples for peace and to the Mexican Indian. Among those great multitudes of Asian people, there will always be the faces of my own — Mexicans — with dark skin and beautiful form, with limitless grace. Black people would also be freed, so beautiful and so brave. (We are subjugated for now by capitalist countries.)” Her feelings about revolution and people's freedoms were strong.
In 1940, Frida had very serious health problems and was admitted to a hospital with every year passing Frida’s condition got worse. She had several serious surgeries. In 1953, her leg had to be amputated because of gangrene. The same year she had a personal exhibition in Mexico, which she attended on her hospital bed.
In 1954, just before her death Frida attended a protest against the USA intervention in Guatemala, Frida had said, “I have to fight with all my strength to contribute the few positive things my health allows me to the revolution. The only true reason to live for.” Frida felt she would die soon, she wrote in her diary, “I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return.”
Frida finished her last work 8 days before her death. It was originally called watermelons, but became well known by the quote carved on one of the watermelons; “Viva la vida” which translates to “Long live life.”
The artist died 1954 at the same house she was born in just before her 47th birthday. A year later, the house Frida lived in was turned into a museum, to this day her fans from around the world still visit it known as La Casa Azul. In her lifetime full of pain and struggle, the Mexican artist completed more than 150 paintings. Her art has inspired other forms of creativity movies have been made about her. She has inspired books and even music in her honor and during the feminist movement; she became admired as an icon of female creativity. Her last wish was to be remembered as the stern and unshakable revolutionary. In a 1952 letter to friend Antonio Rodriguez, she wrote, “I wish to be worthy, with my paintings, of the people to whom I belong and to the ideas which strengthen me.” A prominent critic had summarized attending her last & final show that she would be alive to attend and said, “It is impossible to separate the life and work of this singular person-her paintings are her autobiography.”
I Am, Frida Kahlo