Many of us never really find out what defines us beyond the friends we keep, the bands we hate, and how we like our eggs cooked. We hesitate, we bury the truth. We hold up our flickering candles while people we admire are overflowing like volcanoes. Frida Kahlo knew no such meekness of character. Her selfness could not be contained. Her art did not end at the edge of a canvas. It pumped through her veins, it welled in her eyes, it pervaded everything.
“Really, I do not know whether my paintings are surrealist or not, but I do know that they are the frankest expression of myself.”
“The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.”
“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”
Fifty five years after her death, the contents of Frida’s closet (long sealed by her surviving lover Diego Rivera) are now on exhibit at the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City. Oh, to have been present the moment this monument was unlocked, to witness her joyous deluge awakening to creaking hinges. Having survived a spinal birth defect, childhood polio, devastating injuries from a trolley crash, and a repeatedly broken heart, Frida’s wardrobe seems to celebrate the miracle of borrowed time.
Some people (usually called artists) instinctively transform pain and hardship into insight, humor and solidified beauty like it was a chemical reaction. For Frida, life, art and pain were literally inextricable. Her body cast and corrective boot were vibrant canvasses. She braided ribbons and enormous flowers into her hair and wore an envious overabundance of oversized jewels, vivid lipsticks, and facial hair. Incorporating her dreams and nightmares, she immortalized every detail of her style and rustic elegance in a series of self-portraits that would come to profoundly influence fashion and art forever.
I know I could stand to be a little more like Frida.
Be Honest About Who You Are.
Frida could have just as easily plucked her eyebrows and waxed her lip, but instead she stood out proudly amongst a sea of forgettable femininity. She drank, swore, and got depressed. But even as her body ached and her husband philandered with models and dancers, she roared with authenticity.
“I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows. But now the damned things have learned to swim ,and now decency and good behavior weary me.”
Creativity is our attempt to communicate what is ultimately inexpressible; how we interpret our individual realities. From the delicate way you slice onions to how you make your bed, your life is your Art. Fashion is nothing but a precious daily opportunity to turn our soft little bodies into works of beauty. Figure out what you love and do it as often as you can. Create until there is nothing left in your head. Write to figure out what’s in there in the first place.
Garnish your daily life with humor and beauty like there actually is no tomorrow.
Sing in the shower. Wear party dresses to dinner. Pile on costume jewelry like it’s going out of style. Paint your house a heartbreaking shade of indigo. And ferchrissakes, laugh.
“Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing.”
Life is too short for hesitation. Art is not art if it is half-assed.