When I’m down, distracted, unclear, and unsure of what’s next. I ask myself,
“What would Frida do?”
If you don’t know her yet, Frida Kahlo is/was a fiercely creative, greatly influential Mexican painter and activist.
I’m not sure how true it was to Frida’s actual lived experience, but the movie “Frida,” directed by Julie Taymor, is a spellbinding magical realism experience, the same style in which Frieda painted her paintings. I recommend it.
In one scene, at the funeral for her mother, Frida picks a dying flower from a bunch and tucks it behind her ear, in a defiant, reverential gesture that says,
“What is dead and dying is also beautiful. Do not overlook this. Our grief grows out of the same soil as our joy. We must honor life by celebrating it, all of it.”
Frida Kahlo had polio and spina bifida, was in a bus accident that caused her lifelong medical problems, and thus was in chronic physical pain most of her life.
And yet even when bed-bound
in a body cast, still she painted.
I have a picture of her on my altar, a queenly reminder to make art out of life, even — especially — the painful parts.
And by the way, if you didn’t know, I also paint in oils. I don’t have much time these days to do so, but you can check out some of my past artworks, if it pleases you.
So when I call out to Frida,
here are some of her responses:
“Mira,” she smiles, “Even when bed-bound and in pain, let the beauty you see be what you do — and what you speak and what you create.”
“Look for the beauty in what others would look past and discard. It’s there, it’s especially there, and only the foolish or closed-hearted cannot see it.”
“Make art out of it as a way of making sense of it.”
“Dance as much as you can.”
“Who gives a flying f*ck how old you are.”
“Gather as many interesting, complex, creative people as you can and dance with them, revel with them, disagree with them perhaps, but hold them close even when they are far.”
“Always adorn yourself, even if all you’ve got is dying blooms.”
“Treat each new wrinkle now with the same reverential excitement you treated your budding breasts then.”
“When the world points out in you something ugly or unlovable, laugh and paint yourself surrounded with flowers, saying, ‘How great a fool must you be to not see and love THIS!?’”
Thank you, Frida.
Let’s do what Frida would,
PS: Photo by Wendy K. Yalom photography