Here's what Marianne had to say about Frida:
I have been a teacher for over 35 years, now retired doing artist residencies in the area. When I taught art, I often dressed up as different women artists, mainly Frida and Georgia O'Keeffe. Frida was the greatest hit, and I enjoyed 'being' Frida for the day. I portrayed Frida for children because I wanted them to understand she was, as all artists, a real person. Also, because Frida loved animals, I would show portraits of her with animals, such as, her monkey. She is a great role model for young girls to be who they are and not apologize for themselves (as I've always done).
I think her work is fascinating, but not really appropriate for younger children. When I show my young students examples of her paintings, I am very careful with my choices. There are some powerful images that are obviously very erotic and disturbing. I've been to a few major exhibits of Frida's paintings and always come away with feeling like I've seen a tormented soul's work...lovely and terrible.
What do I know about Frida Kahlo? I have read a few books about her, saw the movie (Salma Hayek), and have been to exhibits of her work. I felt the diary being published was a bit unfair to Frida, a bit invasive if you know what I mean. I certainly wouldn't want my diary published. But it was insightful and gave a clear picture of a vulnerable, struggling woman...like so many of us, full of insecurities and beauty.
Frida's art is surreal and full of symbolism. I like how she mainly painted herself; her work tells stories of her life's journey and emotions. Of course, she had lots of time convalescing after surgeries, so why not do self-portraits? She's the epitome of self-awareness. And yet, did she really see she was the better artist (than Diego Rivera) who she passionately idolized? I wonder. Her obsession with him was a bit much, I think.
All I know, really, about Frida Kahlo is that although she died fairly young, her work - like all art - lives on. I wonder what she'd think if she were to return (in spite of the fact that her last words were that she 'never return') and see how famous she is now. I think she'd be amazed. As in one of Mary Oliver's poems, she was truly a 'bride married to amazement.' Frida really lived. She is an inspiration because of the accident and all the pain she dealt with and yet she kept going. She kept painting. Thank goodness she did. Thank goodness she didn't shave her 'uni-brow'! Now that is a powerful statement!
I am absolutely no expert on Frida Kahlo, but when I have dressed up as her, I get a sense of a very mysterious woman, full of passion, who was like all of us in the sense she wanted to be loved and leave her mark in the world... she dared to paint her soul on the canvas with no apologies. I like that about her. Gutsy, truly courageous. But vulnerable and very real.
This past Halloween, a friend asked me to accompany her to an assisted living facility, so I resurrected Frida after not having portrayed her for some time.