I’m currently suffering from the twin nightmares of severe period pain and EDS pain, my body feels utterly cripple by pain. Just typing this hurts, but I feel like I need to turn this pain in to something constructive, and it got me thinking about one of my idols – Frida Kahlo.
I knew about her and liked her art, but didn’t know a great deal about her life when I watched the film Frida. The film was a real eye opener for me, and also hugely inspirational.
This painting is one of my favourite Kahlo paintings, if you’ve read about my health problems you should be able to see instantly why.
If you don’t know about Frida let me do a quick recap.
When she was 6 she contracted polio which left her right leg thinner than her left, it’s also suspected she had spina bifida which would have affected the development of her spine and legs. Then when she was 18 the bus she was travelling on was involved in an accident which resulted in a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. On top of that a handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus, which meant she was never able to carry a pregnancy to term. She recovered from the accident enough to be able to walk, but suffered a great deal of pain for the rest of her life, which resulted in long periods where she was bedridden or in hospital.
Through all of this though she painted.
She had a special easel made which she could use whilst lying in bed.
She achieved so much despite the pain, and in fact used it to create some truly incredible works of art. She also made use of the trauma of her dysfunctional reproductive system in her art. She created beauty from what were some truly horrific experiences.
I remember watching the film and thinking how she was in a much worse state than me, and still followed her dreams. She didn’t let the pain stop her, and has left this incredible legacy behind.
I know it’s something that is always at the back of a my mind now, though I don’t profess to have even half her talent!
I know that right now there is a show on in the New York Botanical Garden which is a re-imagining of her studio and garden, which has original artwork by her and also a recreation of her desk. It looks amazing, I just wish I could go there. One day I’d love to go visit her studio, Casa Azul, which is now a museum dedicated to her.
I leave you with this quote by Frida
I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.