EAST LANSING, Michigan — The Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University opened on Kahlo without borders exhibits this weekend taking a closer look at Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and her health throughout her life.
“This exhibit was born out of a conversation with Cristina Kahlo, Frida’s great-niece,” said Museum Director-General Monica Ramirez-Montagut.
Kahlo had her first solo exhibition in Mexico in 1953, but most of her work remained unknown until the 1970s.
“She is one of the most important female artists of the 20th century,” said Ramirez-Montagut.
The exhibit is meant to show some of Kahlo’s work during her hospital stays.
“We have a self-portrait of Frida from 1932 that was done in a hospital, at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit shortly after she had health issues,” Ramirez-Montagut said.
And highlight some of the things people may not have known.
“With her doctors, she has become a close friend,” Ramirez-Montagut said. “She would ask them for health advice, but she would also ask them for personal and political advice and on occasion she couldn’t pay her bills, she would actually paint a few canvases for her doctors and give them as gifts to the instead of paying some bills.
Ramirez-Montagut said the collection is meant to be relatable.
“It’s a perspective to humanize someone who’s become an icon, almost an image and almost bring it back to Earth and have a conversation with us during the difficult global pandemics we’re having right now,” said Ramirez-Montagut.
The exhibit includes photos from his hospital stays, letters and unpublished medical records from his hospital stay in Mexico.
“In one of the files it says she had, for breakfast she had orange juice, but she also had orange juice with two spoonfuls of sugar, which means she was probably diabetic,” Ramirez-Montagut said.
Ramirez-Montagut said she hopes these medical records can be analyzed by health care providers who come to view the exhibit.
“We are showing information about Frida for the very first time and have not yet been processed, so we hope that a lot of research and other people’s perspectives will come from visiting this show,” Ramirez-Montagut said.
While this exhibit features some of Kahlo’s work, it also aims to showcase healthcare providers.
“I think many visitors will identify with some of Frida’s situations and we are living in a global pandemic, our health care, our health care providers, the people who take care of us have become of paramount importance in our daily lives,” Ramirez-dit Montagut said.
“Her story is a story of resilience, it’s a story of chronic pain, it’s a story of a very brave woman who has made this journey widely available to the public through her art and now through stories that “She helps us tell the story through the photos she documented of herself in the hospital and the letters she wrote from the hospital,” Ramirez-Montagut said.
The exhibition is open now until August 7 and is free to attend. The museum will host special events related to the exhibit, such as Kahol’s great-niece, Cristina Kahlo, coming to speak about the exhibit later this summer.
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