Culture

Frida Kahlo- my mentor

One of the exercises that we were given during the art therapy course, was to write down 3 mentors. Then, we had to mention what we most appreciate about these persons and what characteristics inspire us most. One of the mentors which I put down on my paper was Frida Kahlo. She is a Mexican painter which from my point of view used art as therapy in order to endure her lifetime physical and emotional pains. I really believe that art saved her soul and gave her purpose and meaning to her life.

What I admire most about Frida is the amount of courage she had as a woman in a society that was still suffering from equality in gender rights. She was not scared to show her vulnerability and sensitivity in a world that might have perceived this as a weakness. Frida was so open to share her every physical and emotional scar. She was not scared to be an open book in front of her audience. She shared her sadness, her miscarriages, her love towards her husband, her disappointment towards her husband’s affairs, her loneliness, her thoughts of death and her place in this world. These shared emotions did not alienate her from her audience. It only brought her audience closer. Even though her expressed emotions were so personal, there were emotions that everyone could relate to. When I look at Frida’s paintings there is something inside of me that calms down. It’s as if every pain and every doubt is reassured. The fact that someone else felt it, expressed it and got on with it, gives me the strength and power to continue despite the inconvenience of feeling something painful.

Another thing that I admire about Frida, is that she was not scared of her sexually and expressed it with the same openness that she expressed her other emotions. Again, let’s not forget the time in which she lived in. She was not scared of painting male and female organs and to symbolically represent sexuality. I loved the fact that she was open about her bisexuality and yet again she wasn’t scared of being judged for it.

One thing that I loved about Frida is that she portrayed reality as it was. She was very authentic in her paintings, just as I think she was in reality. She loved to paint self-portraits and none of them hid the reality. Her lack of expression, her strong features, her unibrow, her wrinkles, her light mustache and her tears. Everything was traced with extreme precision and authenticity. She was not scared or ashamed of how she looked like, of how she was and of how she thought and felt. She felt comfortable being herself in front of her public and she wasn’t scared of being judged.

The painting called “My birth” shows Frida’s passion for reality and her courage of showing things as they were. Many might find this painting too disturbing and explicit. But this is what birth looks like. Frida didn’t like to make things “pretty” for the sake of it. She painted with her eyes and heart and she didn’t want to spare her public from all the gory, painful details. The painting “The suicide of Dorothy Hale” which was painted at the request of Clare Luce for the mother of Dorothy is another example of Frida’s love for truth. Instead of doing a nice looking portrait of Dorothy, Frida chose to portray her death, as it was. In this painting, she captured the victim’s pain and sorrow and the tragedy of her death. It’s as if Frida owed it to her. She felt responsible to show the suffering that Dorothy might have felt.

Frida was a feminist not by label, but by all her actions. Her self-portrait with chopped hair is one of the paintings that I love most. Even though she loved to be feminine, she didn’t run away from a masculine look. She loved to wear man suits without being scared of being judged. For her, women and men were equal and she didn’t like to identify herself only with one gender.

I admire Frida a lot for her interest in politics, history and culture. She was an active woman, participating into rallies even when she was on her death bed. She cared about building a better society and she liked to be involved in politics. This from my point of view, shows what a well-rounded person she was. She was curious about herself as an individual, but also her role in the society. She regarded all aspects of live and portrayed them artistically in order to give them a louder voice and bring awareness.

Frida remains for me my biggest mentor and symbol of strength and vulnerability. When I hit rock bottom, I often think of her. She helps lift me up in moments where hope is gone.

Thank you Frida!

Who are your mentors and why?

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