Happy Birthday Frida Kahlo

5 Reasons I’m Inspired by Frida Kahlo:

Pop culture recognizes Frida Kahlo as one strong woman whose unibrow and determined face are known around the world. Her surrealist artwork with bright bold colors reflects her Mexican heritage. I have to admit that I am not sure that I would have appreciated Frida Kahlo had she been a contemporary artist living in my community. She was such a force, a strong personality who fearlessly painted her emotions and feelings. I tend to view circumstances more privately and although my emotions and feelings drive me, I would not be painting my self portrait in different states of physical and psychological suffering. Kahlo was a revolutionary. She was a political activist. Her paintings reflect her political and societal concerns. And Frida Kahlo’s art - well it is was often quite shocking. In light of her circumstances, there are many reasons that I have found studying her artwork fascinating.

1. Perseverance

Keep at it. For Kahlo, hard work fulfilled her. Disabled by several tragic accidents that could have killed her, Frida Kahlo lived a painful existence wearing a corset every day for spinal support. Despite disabilities, she spent her life producing artwork, working for the Mexicotyl Movement and writing for her political causes. She was a revolutionary who stood up for her beliefs. She made others stand up too. She continued to live out each day to its full potential.

2. Create through the Pain

Kahlo had a withered leg as a result of childhood polio. That is why she wore long, colorful, traditional, Mexican skirts. She had planned to study medicine until a serious bus accident impaled her hip crushing her spine and hips. Several weeks after her hospital release, she painted her first painting, a self-portrait, while lying in bed looking up at a mirror. Many of her paintings were done from her bed using a mirror to reflect the world outside her room.

3. Tell Your Story

Many people journal to express themselves. Others use art. Frida Kahlo used her life experiences and was a prolific creative force in both.

4. Find the Spirit

Kahlo’s spirit was indomitable - almost furious with passion. She took her life’s circumstances and harnessed them into her brushes and canvases. The Frida Kahlo Museum in her hometown of Mexico City references over 200 paintings and drawings, all pieces to the puzzle of her life.

5. Work with Emotion

Kahlo painted her feelings. Pain and suffering. Anger. She suffered physically from her illness and accidents. Her relationship with her on and off husband, Diego Rivera, and multiple miscarriages caused her mental anguish. Her work is like a diary and the emotions are clearly on the canvas. Frida Kahlo’s paintings were bold and just like her Mexican heritage reflect a warm color palette. Deep red and bright gold paint colors offset her black hair and dark unibrow.

Thinking about Kahlo in my studio, I generally find myself working a little harder. They say comparison is the thief of joy, so I would never compare my work to Kahlo’s. However, I find myself wanting to work just a little harder, through the aches and pains. I find myself expressing gratitude for my environment and my health. After a long day in the studio, I think about Frida Kahlo and the pain she must have endured in order to put her heart and soul on the canvas. I’m thankful I have so many blessings, but I have tremendous empathy for Frida Kahlo. She was one inspiring artist.