Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Frida Freak

A Frida Kahlo pin from The National Museum of Women and the Arts
 There was an article in The New York Times recently published about The Guerrilla Girls, a group of women who seek to portray women more prominently in the arts. They asked pedestrians: “Can you name three female artists? The people asked that question outside the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art can’t get much beyond Frida You-Know-Who-I-Mean. That’s old, sad news to Lynn Hershman Leeson, the director of ‘Women Art Revolution’ — ‘W.A.R.’ — a documentary history of the feminist art movement.” It's extremely sad that in 2011 there's still a complete inequality the art community, a community which is supposed to be based on the freedom of expression, and yet remains oppressive when it comes to gender and race (of course, it is also ironic that Guerrilla Girls asked people standing in front of the SFMoMA, who seemingly have an interest in the arts). But although Frida Kahlo maybe the most easily recognizable of female artists to even the most misogynistic of art consumers (indubitably because of her signature uni-brow and sometimes akin to wearing menswear), that doesn't in any way lessen her message that continues to stay relevant today.
My Frida Kahlo backpack from Things Built on Etsy
Frida Kahlo, though now one of the most well-known female artists,  had a hard time making her way to fame. Even though she suffered domestic abuse, polio, a horrible car accident, and a multitude of other problems throughout her life, Frida remained a strong-willed voice of politics and feminism through her art and has been a powerful role model for women for a long time.  Frida often curses in her writing, and clearly wasn't going to succumb to the image of domesticity that women of the 1940's/50's were conforming to. I love reading her quotes like this one, on why she painted so many self-portraits: "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best."
My best friend bought this backpack for me for my birthday off of Etsy and it brightens my day when I put it on. I’ve worn it to school every day since I got it and will wear it once school starts up again in September. It’s so colorful just like Frida’s paintings and epitomizes the spirit of Mexico. I just love Frida's use of Dia de Los Muertos skulls, velvet, monkeys, and bright colors throughout her work. Everything she touches is are brilliant colors tinged with melancholy. 
For my birthday I also got The Diary of Frida Kahlo, which is a book that shows an inside look at Frida’s diary and then page by page transcribes the symbolism behind her words and drawings. The following are some pages from the book:
Frida always dressed so beautifully, too. Not constrained to gender norms, she often times wore men’s clothes and cut her hair short. Frida definitely also started the velvet trend with her “Self-portrait in a Velvet Dress” painting. In our society, we are so narrow in our vision of beauty, we have it ingrained in our brains that for women, we have to be like hairless, naked mole rats to be beautiful. And yet, I find Frida Kahlo's unibrow to be beautiful in and of itself. One of the best Frida Kahlo quotes is when she said, "I used to think I was the strangest person in the world. But then I thought, there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like be who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true, I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you."

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  1. Thanks for sharing, I got a Frida coloring book at a museum and am quite proud of my work. Thinking about framing it. You're right, I probably would have just made it to three (Frida, Georgia and Camille Claudel) I couldn't have made it to 4 on the spot. Embarrassing.



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