The Rising Arts Writers Program is an initiative created by The Arts Beacon to encourage, mentor, support and post writings by aspiring locals writers. With the intention of fostering critical responses to art and artists in the Valley, the RAW Program creates an opportunity for up and coming writers to comment on their own art scene using the platform of The Arts Beacon website while also being a valuable resource for local artists seeking insights into their practice.
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The Heard Museum presents: Frida Kahlo - Her Photos, a selection of 241 images on view until February 8, 2016. Curated by Mexican artist and historian Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, the exhibition centers around six themes in Frida’s life: Origins: Blue House; Politics; Revolution and Diego; Broken Body, Fridas Loves; and Photography. Frida Kahlo - Her Photos gives the viewer a well rounded glance of the vast collection of photographs and personal items from her residence in Mexico, Casa Azul, that was first opened to the public in 2007.
Many of the photographs belonged to Frida’s family and her husband, artist Diego Rivera; however she is credited for safeguarding the photos as personal mementos, often adoring them from her sickbed. Frida’s father, Guillermo Kahlo, was a photographer and as a result, he took many high quality photos of her childhood and her family which can be seen in the exhibit. Photography was important to Frida’s mother’s family as well. Frida’s father was taught photography by his father in law, Antonio Calderón. Due to early exposure to photography in her daily life, Kahlo developed a strong sense of identity that was later evident throughout her work.
Frida and Diego kept their inner circle of artist friends close, where often they would use Frida as the subject matter of their own work. Photographer Nicholas Murray created a series of staged photographs portraying Frida when she was bedbound, showing that much of the reality she faced was one of isolation and pain. Many photographs included in the exhibition are further composed by Frida herself, reflecting on the streetcar accident in 1925 which caused her lifelong health problems. Frida also mutilated photographs, especially ones of herself. The bone dislocations caused by the streetcar accident, as well as her inability to conceive led her perception of her body as “broken.” The cutting and splicing of these photographs were much like her paintings that dominated her career.
Many of the objects in Casa Azul kept by Frida were actually possessions of Diego’s. Photos of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky, as well as memorabilia reflect the political climate in which Frida and Diego immersed themselves. Following Lenin’s death, Diego’s support of succession leaned towards Trotsky, and once Trotsky was exiled from the Soviet Union, he lived for a while in Casa Azul. Frida also kept Diego’s photos from his travels through the USSR of social workers, monuments, and soviet technology. Although Diego had been a longtime supporter of the communist party, he denounced the party after they made multiple attempts on Trotsky’s life, never rejoining.
Frida Kahlo - Her Photos gives viewers multiple perspectives of the private life of Kahlo, and the rich backdrop to her artistic and troubled life. The exhibition is not in chronological order, but rather is sorted by motifs that shape her paintings and aids the viewer in observing the realities in which she lived. Although Frida is well known in regards to her relationship with Diego and her self portraits, the exhibition stands out as it invites many viewers for the first time to delve into the biographical origins of where her art began. Notes, kiss marks, bends and folds on the photographs are proof that Frida often regarded these as objects of great importance by seeking solace and comfort in them, and reaching for them in her times of difficulty.