Thursday, January 10, 2013

Frida Kahlo was Never in the Closet

So, I just read about the opening of Frida Kahlo's private closet that has been locked since her death in 1954. A museum has put many of the contents from the closet into an exhibit. There is an article about it on the Univision News tumblr.

I just dislike the fact that the article claims that Frida tried to hide her disabilities. To say so is to claim that she thought her disabilities SHOULD be hidden and that just defies her whole body of art.

Frida Kahlo's painting "Broken Column" is a self portrait of the artist with tears falling from her face. Her usually elaborately styled hair is loose and hangs down her back. She's garbed in  a torso brace, leaving her breasts and arms exposed. Her torso is open from the neck down, revealing an ionic column on the verge of collapse. From her waist, she is wrapped in a sheet that she holds with both hands. In the background, a desert full of dunes extends to the horizon where it meets an ominous sky that appears windy or about to rain.

Frida is a disability culture icon. I hope that UnivisionNews will reconsider what was written here. Frida is practically a saint in the eyes of many people with disabilities, especially those of us who are also women and people of color, just like her.

"Autorretrato con el Retrato Dr Farill" (Self-Portrait with the Portrait of Dr Farill) shows Frida sitting in a wheelchair. She wears a floor-length skirt and a simple, loose top. Her hair is braided and wound into her signature style. In her left hand there's a palette with a human heart in the place of paints. Her right hand clutches paint brushes. Next to her, there's an easel with a painting of her doctor's face. The doctor is dressed in a suit and his eyebrows have been joined together in the same way that Kahlo always painted her own. The entire painting is styled in the form of an ex-voto.
Using prosthetics makes it easier for people with disabilities to function in a world that is often unfriendly to bodies that differ from what is considered "normal". They aren't made to hide one's disability. People who use them often decorate them, because it becomes a part of who they are. If you had to wear one pair of shoes every day, wouldn't you want it to be a pretty pair of shoes? Frida celebrated disability. She made her disability into art so magnificent that it is known all around the world. Please, if someone sees this, encourage UnivisionNews to change this awful and untrue claim that is being made.

No comments: