The text: Frida, 2002 (Director: Julie Taymor)
The media: film
The thought: We all need art more than we understand; it is stifled under modern attitudes. How can we live more art?
The lesson: Frida Kahlo’s life through art, our lives through art
The most delightful part about watching Frida, besides the colors and the beautiful celebration of (bi)sexuality, was, to me, the idea of art as a crazy, variegated reflection of our real lives. We have every reason to want to escape the mundane aspects of everyday life, especially with how consumerist and shallow middle-class America has become. In other cases or other places, the need for art may arise from extreme poverty or corruption or simple apathy — the things that make our lives difficult or boring or unpleasant. Luckily for us, our human predecessors gave us exactly the creative tool to help ourselves mitigate these very human problems.
Escape from the mundane — or perhaps just visualization of the mundane as something less mundane — is one thing, and an important one at that. According to the portrayal of her life in the movie, Frida Kahlo painted to ease the physical and emotional pain brought on by medical trauma and her love story with husband Diego Rivera. Her mundane was, in fact, much more tumultuous than so many of ours. But it was her life, and she used art to escape its more unbearable parts.
We may be confined to one body for our entire lives, but through creativity and imagining, we can soar beyond our physical limitations and live in our imagination the way we cannot in our reality. The beauty of Kahlo’s creative labor was that she infused it with extraordinary color, imagination and feeling, allowing her world to be seen so clearly by the rest of us. Not all art needs to be this way. Kahlo had connections — namely, a world-famous painter as a lover — that spread her influence across continents and, now, time, allowing her to be hailed as a great artist. But all art does not need to be famous art.
Everyone can be an artist, but as many of us unfortunately know, our creative potential is often stifled early on by competitive spirit, critical friends or teachers, lack of perseverance or a perceived lack of resources and drive. Is this an American tendency? I feel intuitively that other cultures might prioritize creative expression more effectively than we do. We do an all right job, but unfortunately our current society values numbers, grades, and measurable success, because they are, well, measurable. Supporting art costs money, because people feel it is not a basic necessity. Therein lies the age-old problem of our modernity.
How can we bring more art into our lives, if we have been so brainwashed by this monster we call society/economy/efficiency?
At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can. — Frida Kahlo
An answer for myself: be insistent about making art every day. I may be timid about drawing or painting or dancing my feelings, which are often so overwhelming or complex (aren’t everyone’s?) that I don’t know where to begin. But words and stories and poetry I have crafted for years. Music is a beautiful thing that I want to craft more. Art doesn’t even have to be of traditional media; being creative and thinking innovatively are both artistic pursuits. Consider this post the first step.
I absolutely love browsing through the list of Kahlo’s paintings at Frida Kahlo Fans, (one among many other great sites I’m sure!).