A good portion of examining and journeying through my creative recovery these last nine weeks has been about fear and procrastination (which are pretty much two sides of the same coin as it turns out). One of the exercises that I had to do was to create an art totem, a guardian angel who would sustain and nurture me in times of drought and doubt, and to that end I made a reblanos of the wonderful Frida Kahlo.
It is almost impossible to be afraid, doubt yourself or procrastinate when the steely yet playful gaze of Frida is upon you and you can hear her say, through cigarette smoke: "I dealt with a bus crash, countless operations, a leg amputation AND Diego Rivera - now GET TO WORK!" You can see one of the reasons why I chose her but there are so many more. Here are just five of the many, many reasons why I love Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón de Rivera:
- Fearless: she was born with polio - and still learned how to paint. She was in a bus crash so severe that doctors thought she would die. Then they said she'd never walk again. Then they said she'd never have a normal life. She didn't die. She did walk again. She kept on painting and she conquered Paris and married Diego Rivera. She had numerous back operations, each one more debilitating than the last, and she had a leg amputated and she STILL kept on painting, and seduced both men and women, among them Trotsky. The word fearless was invented for her.
- Revolutionary: She changed the date on her birth records so that it would seem she was born on the day of the Mexican Revolution. She fought social injustice, prejudice, stood up for the common man, marched, protested, distributed tracts, harboured Trotsky when he was on the run, and STILL kept on painting.
- Intimate: Frida looked at every deep, dark corner of her soul and put them on canvas. And kept putting them on canvas. We know about her because she painted all of it and never shied away from the truth of her life however painful, both physically or emotionally. Every lock of hair, every drop of blood, every shattered bone tells a story. I defy any woman (or any man for that matter) to look at her portraits and not feel the jagged ache of their own heartbreak, or the razor sharp slice of their own emotional pain, the snap of their own vulnerable bones.
- Diego: you cannot talk about Frida without mentioning Diego, her husband, soulmate and source of both joy and pain. Their love affair is in the annals of legend and all the fierceness, intensity, betrayal and reconciliation is played out on her canvasses.
- Avant Garde: she was often declared to be a Surrealist, but denied this, stating that she painted her reality not her dreams. She was ahead of the curve and fiercely so, not following any fashion or trend but painting her own truth in her own way.
I'm a Pagan by religion, and devote myself to the Goddess. My religion is all about passion and life, however messy, joyful, tragic or insane. It's also about empowerment, and Pagans tend to devote themselves to powerful female Goddesses - women of great compassion, fierce warriors, passionate lovers and nurturers. In the pantheon of Pagan Goddesses I like to think there's a place for Frida who embodies all of these traits and more. She was absolutely a one off.