Frida Kahlo's impact on me

I had been taking art classes in school for years before I discovered my love for Frida Kahlo. Sure, I had heard of her and seen pictures of her work, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I began to feel a connection with her. Something about her story, whether it was her bisexuality or her reflection of personal struggles in art, I found relatable. I found solace from my own suffering in her work. I struggled with coming to terms with my own bisexuality for such a long time. I saw it as sinful and shameful. Although Frida was in a tumultuous marriage with Diego Rivera, they both had many affairs, and in Frida’s case, those affairs were with both men and women. She showed me that my sexuality was not something I needed to hide, nor was it something to be ashamed of. 

As a teenager, Frida was involved in a bus accident that left her to recover in a body cast. This is when she began to focus on her painting career. My senior year of high school, I went on a field trip to the North Carolina Museum of Art to see some of Frida’s work in a traveling collection. I was already a fan of hers, but seeing her work in person was beyond inspirational for me. Her use of symbolism and vibrant colors was so spectacular, that I began to draw and paint in color instead of just black and white. She showed me how to see the world in colors, and that there were rainbows that came from rain. 

The piece by Frida that impacted me the most was a self portrait she painted in 1940 entitled Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. In this piece, Frida depicts herself surrounded by things she finds meaningful and beautiful like the monkey and leaves, yet she is solemnly suffering with the thorn necklace and dead hummingbird around her neck. This piece has had such an impact on me because I related to her silent suffering. I felt lost for so long; Frida helped me find my way. Her story of physical and mental pain inspired me to dig deep into myself and realize how strong I am. 

To this day, I thank her for giving me strength when I was weak. Frida’s story continues to inspire me as I find myself throughout my life and throughout my experience with art.