I was recently invited to a party thrown by an art teacher who happens to be amazingly creative, very inspiring and just a little bit crazy (as all art teachers should be).  The dress code requested was to come as ‘a work of art’. There was not even a single second of hesitation in mind when the invitation came through; it was just too tempting, as if I had been waiting for this moment for the last decade!

I was first introduced to the  extraordinary and complex character of Frida Khalo during my  my first teaching practice at Strathern. The Head of Art I was working under was a pretty passionate feminist and a big supporter of women artists, I probably learnt more from her about art history than I ever did at art college. When I went on to teach art myself, I used Frida Khalo’s work frequently with my younger students, they were often at first repulsed and confused by her work but once they learnt a bit about her passionate and tragic life story, they were soon able to decipher the symbolisim in her paintings and connect with the sadness and desires at the heart of Frida Khalo’s paintings.


If you don’t know Khalo, I recommend 2002 film ‘Frida’ staring Salma Hayek, it gives a pretty comprehensive and slightly too beautiful representation of her crazy, fairly short life.

One of the attractions for me of Khalo’s work is her representation of Mexican culture in both her paintings and exaggerated traditional costumes. Since her death, The Mexican people have raised her to an iconic status, their representations of her in their altars and day of the dead figures are incredible looking works of art in themselves and have inspired some of my own work built inside vintage tin boxes.

 

Getting back to the party you can see I didn’t quite pull off the sad intense Khalo stare without making it look just a bit too grumpy! The bazaar thing was, I wasn’t the only Frida at the party infact most works of art turning up at the party had a double: there were several American Gothics, banksys and Van Goghs, how crazy is that given the vast world of art out there!

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