Artist Frida Kahlo, Chingonas, How to be a Chingona, poetry, Sandra Cisneros, Strong Women

Frida Kahlo- Chingona Artist

Happy belated anniversary date to Frida Kahlo, a chingona artist. She died on July 13, 1954 leaving art that lives on in perpetuity through her incredibly emotive images and poetry.  

N.Muray collection

The term “Chingona” is a Spanglish term, slang, for a

bad ass, wise woman, powerful, individualist, self-activated, a woman who lives a life for their own approval, self-empowered, a strong woman 

You might find the word in an urban dictionary but it’s a subjective term that’s more of a concept than a specific definition.  I think most Latino’s agree with terms similar to those I mentioned above and could probably add more identifiers. 

Frida Kahlo de Rivera was a Mexican painter, and is perhaps best known for her self-portraits. Kahlo’s life began and ended in Mexico City, in her home known as
La Casa Azul ( the Blue House). Diego Rivera was her husband. Leon Trotsky and Nickolas Muray (the photographer of this 1938 photo) were her lovers.

One of my favorite authors, Sandra Cisneros, shares her perspective on “How to be a  Chingona in 10 easy steps.” One of the steps rings true about Frida Kahlo’s life: 

Depression has a purpose if you use it before it uses you. Compost it through art

Frida Kahlo encountered much suffering in her life. The polio she contracted at age six left her right leg thinner than the other, a bus accident resulted in a broken back and a pierced abdomen resulted in subsequent miscarriages. Her husband was also tempestuous and unfaithful.

She produced 143 paintings, 55 of which are self-portraits. When asked why she painted so many self-portraits, Frida replied: “Because I am so often alone….because I am the subject I know best.” This video, from the History Channel, gives a view of Frida’s life:

This visceral poem is one of my favorites:

I had swayed. Nothing else. But suddenly I knew
In the depth of my silence
He was following me. Like my shadow, blameless and light
In the night, a song sobbed…
The Indians lengthened, winding, through the alleys of the town.
A harp and a jacaranda were the music, and the smiling dark-skinned girls
Were the happiness
In the background, behind the “Zócalo,” the river shined
and darkened, like
the moments of my life.
He followed me.
I ended up crying, isolated in the porch of the parish church,
protected by my bolita shawl, drenched with my tears.
Reproduced in The Letters of Frida Kahlo: Cartas Apasionadas, ed. and trans. Martha Zamora, San Francisco: Chronicle Books, p. 9. 
Today, more than half a century after her death, her paintings fetch more money than any other female artist.  Felicidades to a gran chingonaLa Frida.
Now go out and live like a chingona.

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