Frida Kahlo was born in 1907in Mexico. She was a fierce and passionate woman.
Kahlo experienced many eventsthat led her to start painting. Kahlo’s artworks do not only show us the traumashe experienced but it also takes us through a journey through her life. (The art story,2018) As Kahlo herself stated “I never painted my dreams, I painted my own reality” (Fkhalo.
com, 2018) Kahlo was a surrealist painter and she used vibrant colors together witha style that was influenced from both the Mexico culture and Europeansurrealism. (Arthistoryarchive.com, 2018) My Birth was painted with oil on metaland it tells us two different stories from two separate events that heavilyaffected her. Kahlo started this piece after she suffered one of many miscarriagesand finished shortly after her mother passed away from cancer (Sabbeth, 2005) My Birth represents both Kahlo givingbirth, and being born into this world.
(Lomas, D., & Howell, R. (n.
d.)Another might reasonable assume that the woman giving birth is her own motherand the baby coming out is Frida Kahlo herself. The miscarriage and knowingthat she will never be able to have children of her own, the fetus that isexiting the womb seems lifeless. The painting of The Mater Dolorosa (fig 1)also known as the mother of Christ or the “virginof sorrows” shows sadness by the tears rolling down her face and the skin whichis pierced by a blade in the throat – symbolically showing the grief and thatshe emphasizes with the mother laying on the bed with a cover over her headwhich indicates thatthe ghost of death and loss lives closely together and dangle over the single momentof birth. Kahlo allows us to see her Mexican roots, since the painting is madein a votive stile, which is a fairly smaller traditional Mexican painting thatis obtained from the catholic church art. Kahlo also drew small pictures ofherself in her diary along with a a sentence saying “The one who gave birth to herself…who wrote the most wonderful poem ofher life” A part from showing agrieving mother who just lost her child, it also shows the capability offinding courage to create a strong and beautiful piece of art despite thetrauma. (The art story, 2018) The message that Kahlo tries to deliver from thepainting is to understand the importance of birth and death and remember that andhow easy it is to have it taken away. It might also be said that the paintingwas inspired by an Aztec sculptured that Kahlo had bought and placed it in herhome.
Aztec sculpture which represents Tlazolteotl,also known as the “Goddess of fertilityand midwives” (The art story, 2018) My Nurse and I by Frida Kahlo, 1937 (fig.2) This piece was painted in 1937with the use of the technique oil on metal. It was made when Kahlo’s husbandDiego Riviera encouraged her to start painting a series of life events. Thispiece was the first art piece where Kahlo incorporated and explored the pre-Columbiansymbolism and culture into her paintings. MyNurse and I is a self-portrait where she portrays herself as a baby withthe body of an infant and the face of a grown woman being breastfeed by hernurse. The face of the nurse is covered by a pre-Columbian mask, implying thatshe is not seen as a person, but rather of symbolic value. The mask refers toMexico’s colonial past and it suggests that the painting is an interaction betweenhistorical findings as well as nature and culture.
There is a common negativeportrayal of gender and race that Kahlo managed to capture and in My Nurse and I it represents the powerand equality. (Borsa, n.d.) Even though the native woman’s face is not shownand the skin of the infant is paler, it gives the sense of affinity since thereare many similarities between the infant and the nurse. Both have black hair thatis above the shoulder and their eyebrow both unites as one in both of theirfaces together with the milk that goes into Kahlo’s mouth gives the impression thatbaby Frida feels safe in her strong arms. Kahlo did have a native nurse whengrowing up and the painting does not only depict the nourishing of baby Frida,but also how she embraced the native heritage of Mexico. The flowers on thenurse’s right breast is an indirect quotation to the Mexican culture.
(Deffebach,2015) Another might reasonable state that since the birth of her eleven months’younger sister Christina, she had strong feelings of loss and abandonment from hermother Matilde Calderón. The nurse is breastfeeding her but because of the pre-Columbianmask, it is impossible to know if she is only doing it out of practical reasonsor if she is bonding with the infant and is she is pleased taking care of her. (GoogleArts & Culture.
n.d.) The Aztec identified days in their calendarwith different parts of the creatural body and the flower represents one of thedays in the calendar, which is affiliated with the nipple. It is believed thatout of all the paintings that Kahlo completed, this one was her favorite becauseit allowed her to connect with her Mexican heritage – which she continued doingwhen she painted the rest of her paintings during her lifetime.
(Deffebach,2015) As Kahlo once commented on her creation: “I am in my nurse’s arms with the face of a grownup woman and the bodyof a little girl, while milk falls from her nipples as if from the heavens” – FridaKahlo (USEUM, 2018)