Sunday, January 26, 2014

frida cotton dress

Frida Kahlo. Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird.

Frida Kahlo is one of my heroes. 

She was a feminist before it was a thing, simply by the strength of her own determination. Frida was also a talented, self-taught painter. She was born in Mexico during their Revolution, and it seemed to have set the tone for her life. Through many personal tragedies, including ailing health from a bus crash that resulted in over 30 surgeries through her life, a lecherous husband, and miscarriages, she produced powerful and beautiful art. Frida has always captured my imagination and empathy, through her paintings and her life. And not just because I have a girl-crush on the luscious Salma Hayek who plays Frida in the eponymous movie about the artist. 

Frida with a fawn. She loved animals, often including them in her paintings.

Frida Kahlo on a boat.

She was a modern woman at a time when women were expected to live in the box of gender coding, and not complain or struggle against their lot. Kahlo expressed her life primarily through self-portraits. Some people classify her as a surrealist, a label the artist herself rejected. She said:

          “They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. 

            I painted my own reality.”

Because of her health, Frida was in bed a lot. And not the, yay, let's sleep in and drink coffee in bed sort. More the excruciating pain and surgical recovery sort. I've wondered what kind of person and artist Frida would have been had she possessed good health and a happy marriage. Suffering has a way of either creating or destroying artists.

So, today's quick project is reminiscent of Frida, maybe something she would have worn on a hot day while painting. I'm thinking of the hot pink of sunlight through bougainvillea, the smell of oil paints, and feeling of cool cotton. This was a peasant top and a cotton slip that I joined together, and gathered with a bit of elastic. Not exactly an item that is fully handmade, but enough to meet my project requirements.

Below is an image I made from one of Kahlo's quotes, part of a letter to her husband. She was strong and yet vulnerable to a love that was never fully returned. I wish I could go back in time and hug her. As we head into February, the month of love and all it's implicit loneliness, this quote seems 
especially resonant:

If you want to learn more about Frida, here are some resources:

The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo, PBS documentary.

A tour of Frida & Diego's house, Casa Azul.

A snippet from "Frida", the film about her life. Like all movie interpretations, to be taken with a grain of salt. ;) Still, a well-acted and visually captivating film.

The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo, a PBS produced website.

An article about Frida's miscarriages.'s information on Kahlo.


  1. I love the Freida stuff and your pretty blouse/skirt!

    1. Thank you! I hope to do little pieces here and there that are inspired by other artists/designers/historical figures.