The (Almost) Daily Dose: Frida in Flight
We all need to open our wings. We need to find the spirit that allows us to lead with our hearts. We need to tap in and fly
The first time I came face-to-face with a Frida Kahlo painting was at the Museum of Modern art in San Francisco about seven years ago. I stood there for a long time, taking in the details and the folk-art-like forms of she and Diego hand in hand.
The disparity in their size, the beauty of the composition, the colors and banner in the bird’s beak which reads, “Here you see us, me, Frieda* Kahlo, with my beloved husband Diego Rivera, I painted these portraits in the beautiful city of San Francisco, California, for our friend Mr. Albert Bender, and it was the month of April of the year 1931,” all added up to overwhelm my being. Of course, I had seen Frida’s work before but the sheer beauty and love emanating from that canvas made me want to weep. I felt Frida’s heart opening up to me, right there. I had difficulty walking away.
This year I had the amazing opportunity to go to Mexico City and visit Frida’s home which is now a museum. I found out much I did not know, about her polio, about her horrendous car accident, about her constant pain and how physically disabled she was. On display were many of the various contraptions she wore to try and ease the pain. These harsh-looking corsets shared space with some of the long skirts that became her trademark. It was immediately clear that the garments were a way to use color and beauty to effectively hide her disability.
When Kahlo was in her 40s, her right leg was amputated at the knee due to gangrene. At the exhibition, above the story of that surgery was a piece of art with these words: “Feet what do I need you for when I have wings to fly.”
Again I was stopped in my tracks, much like that first day in San Francisco. I felt her spirit and her heart and I understood that she was passing on a message as I walked by. Even though I was lucky to have my two legs, I still needed to open my wings. We all do. We need to find the spirit that allows us to lead with our hearts. We need to tap in and fly.
*Kahlo later changed the spelling of her German name, Frieda, to Frida