POWERFUL PAINIAC: FRIDA KAHLO

 

Frida Kahlo was a goddess. She was a phenomenally talented Mexican painter whose raw, bold, and often heart-wrenching work expressed her struggle of living with chronic pain. Frida was severely injured after being impaled during a trolley accident as a teenager. The accident shattered her spine and pelvis and critically damaged her reproductive organs, which lead to multiple operations (it's estimated that she underwent as many as 35 surgeries) and several miscarriages. Frida often expressed her experience with pain and suffering in her work. 

I've been enamored with Frida and her work ever since I saw her self portrait titled Broken Column. In this work, Frida stands naked from the waist up. There are tears in her eyes and nails embedded in her skin along her chest, breasts, arms, and torso. Her spine is replaced with a crumbling column and she appears to be held together with a corset brace, which she often wore to help stabilize her posture. Her work cuts me deeply. I find such resonance in the strokes of her paintings. She exquisitely captures the angst, fear, and sorrow that so often consume someone living with pain. I'd like to know what Frida's life would have looked like if she were born in a different era. Would she have more support? Would she have other options and alternative treatments that, perhaps, would be more successful in helping her manage her condition? If so, how would that impact her art? Who would Frida Kahlo be without her story? How would her legacy manifest without it? We can ask ourselves these same questions, I suppose. That aside, I have been and always will be forever changed, moved, and inspired by Frida's emotionally-charged, spirited, and painful work. 

Frida lived an unmistakably bold life --well beyond the confines of her limiting health conditions--which I will not document in this post. However, if you are interested in learning more about Frida, there are many well-written biographies, her journal, a museum, documentaries, and a feature film. Frida died at the age of 47 in 1954.

From time to time, I will feature an admirable and inspiring individual who lives/ed with chronic pain or illness. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment below. 


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