Frida and Me

Frida and Me February 17, 2014
Frida Kahlo, by Guillermo Kahlo, 1932

Frida Kahlo, who lived in Mexico, is one of my favorite artists. She survived a traffic accident as a teenager that left her in constant pain and, like me, unable to bear children.

On September 17, 1925, Kahlo was riding in a bus that collided with a trolley car. She suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident, including a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. Also, an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus, compromising her reproductive capacity.

The accident left her in a great deal of pain while she spent three months recovering in a full body cast. Although she recovered from her injuries and eventually regained her ability to walk, she had relapses of extreme pain for the remainder of her life. The pain was intense and often left her confined to a hospital or bedridden for months at a time. She had as many as thirty-five operations as a result of the accident, mainly on her back, her right leg, and her right foot. The injuries also prevented Kahlo from having a child because of the medical complications and permanent damage. Though she conceived three times, all her pregnancies had to be terminated. (Wikipedia)

Though I wasn’t as damaged as her, I too had several surgeries on my legs. All that time laying there gave me time to practice meditation.

It isn’t just her ability to keep going through all of the surgeries and weeks of bed rest that makes her my hero. It’s how she paints her spiritual and physical struggles and enlightenment into her paintings.

Frida’s works are connected by the themes of nature: animal, vegetative, and human. In each painting there are vines, or veins, even thorns that move in circles connecting each item representing a circle of life: pain and beauty, life and death. Her work can be appreciated through reprints or images online. However, I had the pleasure of seeing a showing of her collection at the San Francisco art museum. Some consider her a surrealist, but she also painted while in bed rest. The canvases were hung above her. I have a theory that caused some of the distortion. Some of her works are very colorful, others show anger and pain. The colors are dark, paint strokes thick and pressed into the canvas to the point that bristles broke off and embedded into the art.

For Frida, art was her creative outlet, her way of dealing with disabilities. For me, it’s writing. For others, maybe singing. What I know is it’s important to find a way to express yourself, a way to unburden your mind and soul and remind yourself of the cycle of life.

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