The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
I’m one, if not, the biggest fan of Frida Kahlo! Her work has inspired much of my art, as I am a Hispanic woman who shares a similar fondness for surrealism, nature, and capturing the human experience through art depicting pain and beauty, respectively.
My favorite painting of hers without a doubt is Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbirds (1940). The piece features Kahlo in a state of vulnerability; she painted this piece following her divorce from fellow acclaimed Mexican artist, Diego Rivera. This painting is often regarded as a representation of her resilience, and this is further shown through the thorns which dig into her neck. These thorns are reminiscent of the crown Jesus wore upon his crucifixion. Kahlo has given herself to love, i.e., the hummingbird, only to be betrayed by her husband’s infidelity. Traces of Diego are found in her accompanying pet spider-monkey, gifted to her by him, and a black panther, which represents bad luck and death, alike. Consequently, she is left to find salvation through nature (and her art), as the butterflies and dragonflies flying above her give hope to new beginnings.
In other words, Frida Kahlo was brilliant. Her clever symbolism and her ability to convey the grief that follows the loss of love, or a lover, stand the test of time. More so, Kahlo empowers us to triumph over our heartbreaks, both of love and of life. I first saw this painting at the age of 13, and to this day, I continue to return to this painting when I need to feel empowered. It gives me the strength to continue my art and to live a life that will inevitably be marked by losses.
If you wish to be empowered, Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbirds (1940) will be displayed this month at the Harry Ransom Center here on campus at The University of Texas at Austin. Be sure to check it out! Spend your time with the painting and don’t worry about looking “weird,” Kahlo’s work isn’t meant to be glanced at; it is a sight to behold.