One hundred-nine years ago today, a girl was born to a father of German (or perhaps Jewish) descent and a mother of Native American and Spanish heritage on the outskirts of Mexico City. This girl was to become a gifted artist whose short life was marked by tragedy and pain whose work was to become celebrated by Mexican indigenous peoples and feminists alike. This girl was the famous Frida Kahlo.
As an eighteen year girl, Frida Kahlo was severely injured in a bus accident that caused her lifelong pain and clearly influenced her art. About four years later, the second (self-described) accident of Kahlo’s life occurred – her marriage to the renowned Mexican artist, Diego Rivera. The couple’s relationship was tempestuous at best and Kahlo openly engaged in sexual affairs with other men and women. Rivera tolerated her affairs with women, but chaffed at her infidelity with other men.
Many of Kahlo’s paintings were self-portraits that represented her physical and psychological pain. She routinely insisted that she never painted dreams, but rather, her reality. The challenges of her life can be summed up well by her quote about why she painted so many self-portraits. Kahlo said, “”I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”