This week’s Artist is not up and coming and new by any means. In fact, she is no longer dwelling with us here on this earth. However, her legacy lives on and is popularized by other mega stars of various types frequently, and rightly so!
Her name is Frida Kahlo. Born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón and born and raised at La Casa Azim in Coyoacán, Mexico. A feminist (whether she called herself one or not), who was deeply inspired by Mexican popular culture folk Art and who used the aforementioned to explore questions of gender, class, identity, race and post-colonialism. And a woman who was not scared of politics and who joined the Mexican Communist party in 1927.
What I adore about her most is that her life was as beautiful and magical as her Art. In fact, Kahlo, was described as a Surrealist or magical realist as her paintings had a heightened sense of autobiographical elements mixed with a touch of realism and fantasy as well. Her life was her Art and the core of both her Art and Life was the understanding and the practice of LOVE. Whether it was the love of painting or the love of her lifetime lover (celebrated muralist, Diego Rivera), who she learned to love – flaws and all – unconditionally, or even the greatest love of all – herself; Kahlo loved deeply and passionately and authentically. She refused to allow the traumatic hand life dealt her at a young age to conquer her spirit and will to live.
She was a warrior and a fighter for all that represented life. She was disabled as a consequence of having poliomyelitis (polio or infantile disease) as a child and she was in a bus accident at the age of 18, where an iron handrail impaled her through her pelvis, fracturing the bone. She also fractured several ribs, her legs, and her collarbone and displaced three vertebrae. Having to wear a plaster corset, Kahlo was bed ridden for several months and her body was crippled and in pain for most of her life. Having to forego her plans to attend medical school as a result, she refused to allow this tragedy to crush her. In fact, this was when she grew her hobby, painting, into an actual legacy unbeknownst to her. Painting, was perhaps the catalyst and the one thing, she held onto to still her mind, dry her tears and ease her burdens and physically express her soul.
Every challenge Kahlo faced she used as a force to keep her going. Whether it was her miscarriage or her husband cheating on her with her very own sister amongst the countless others or her aching body and then finally liver disease; Kahlo superseded every expectation and imagination and kept blazing through the fire until she transcended all physical boundaries of this life and she did it with a hell of a spirit!
I was ignorant of the depth of Kahlo’s life and the resilient beauty of her convictions until I saw the movie Frida on Netflix in Tokyo. I watched that movie in the wee hours of the night and I was deeply moved and impacted by the narrative I saw unravel. Selma Hayek did a phenomenal job and really embodied the spirit of Frida Kahlo and I am a better woman for experiencing this particular adapted version of it.
So, take a look at some of my favorite pieces of Kahlo’s work and make sure you do your own research on this natural born warrior and brilliant artistic lover; for she has so much more to teach us with the way she lived her life than you will ever learn from just looking at her work with the naked eye.
And Frida Kahlo, you get the heART of Cool STAMP. Thank you for showing us what fearlessness truly means by courageously living and loving as you died.
💜Love & Light☀️,
CRISTEN M. MILLS