Art, Artist Frida Kahlo, Latinas

Can You Name #5 Latina Artists?


self portrait of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Lola Alvarez Bravo photographer
Self Portrait of Diego Rivera with Frida Kahlo by Lola Alvarez Bravo 1930

For Women’s History Month, the National Museum of Women in the Arts thought of a great way to get people thinking about women artists.

Their Twitter campaign is Can You Name #5Women Artists. Check out their twitter feed.

What may be more difficult than naming five women artists is to name #5Latina Artists, #5AfricanAmerican Artists, #5Native American Women Artists or #5Asian Women Artists.

Here’s a look at five artists who are Latina (there are many more, but for the sake of this post, we’re looking at five):

Lola Álvarez Bravo is probably best known however for the photographs she took of her friend Frida Kahlo, (see above photo). She was the director of photography at the National Institute of Fine Arts and was the first person to exhibit the work of Frida Kahlo in Mexico City in the early 1950’s.

For 50 years, she photographed a wide variety of subjects, making documentary images of daily life in Mexico’s villages and city streets


Print of La Tierra Santa by Cecilia Alvarez.
La Tierra Santa by Cecilia Alvarez

Cecilia Alvarez was born in National City, California. Her mother is Mexicana and her father is Cubano. Cecilia was raised between San Diego, California, USA and Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. This cultural and political mix inspired much of her work.

I bought this print in Seattle, Washington in 1998 while on a trip with my three children and a nephew. The subject matter spoke to me.

Family Tree by Frida Kahlo, photograph by Libby Rosoff, cc
Family Tree by Frida Kahlo, photograph by Libby Rosoff, cc

Frida Kahlo’s work is by far the most visibly know among women artists. I picked an art piece not widely seen which is a painting of her family tree. It is on display at the Frida Kahlo Museum, Casa Azul in Mexico.

I don’t need to say much about her fantastic work since you’ve probably seen the various movies or books about this legendary artist.

mural in Los Angeles, Judy Baca
The Great Wall of L.A. by Judy

This piece is by muralist and educator Judy Baca. This section is part of a greater mural in Los Angeles which spans centuries of events. The entire piece is 2,754 feet and began in 1976. Her murals and awards are too numerous to list but can be found here.

Soraida Martinez Verdadism Art Gallery
Soraida Martinez Verdadism Art Gallery

Soraida Martinez created the art form called Verdadism which combines the Spanish word for truth (Verdad) and the English suffix for theory (ism).

“My Verdadism paintings are about a deeper understanding of the human soul, tolerance and to promote respect for all human beings. All Verdadism paintings are juxtaposed with social commentaries,which are all based on my life experiences.”

Patssi Valdez was one of the founders of ASCO, an art collective from the 1970’s. Her work is housed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum as well as several other museums in the USA and has shown her work internationally.

This is one of my favorite acrylic pieces and if I could afford to buy the painting I would. Maybe it’ll come out in a print.

Painting on acrylic "What is she Writing?" by Patssi Valdez
What Is She Writing? by Patssi Valdez,


Explore the Twitter campaign and add to the list of women artists at #5womenartists. Share the info.


Artist Frida Kahlo, Chingona, Empowerment, Frida, Hope, Latino Rebels, Maribel Hernandez Designs, Self Identity, Strong Women

Reasons to Celebrate Frida Kahlo’s Birthday

Around the blogosphere and Facebook, many are paying tribute to the artist, activist, feminist icon and chingona Frida Kahlo. Last year I remembered her anniversary.  Today is her birthday.

Over a hundred years after her birth, Frida remains memorable. In addition to her art, much of this has to do with her honesty about emotional and physical pain, her activism, her love of country and her self-identity as a woman. These are reasons to celebrate Frida’s birthday. 

Frida Kahlo produced 143 paintings, 55 of which are self-portraits. When asked why she painted so many of these, Frida replied:

 “Because I am so often alone….because I am the subject I know best.”

Her honesty in her response is precisely why she is remembered. Similiar to her au naturel face of unplucked eyebrows and unshaven upper lip, this was a woman who was comfortable with her identity. What she highlighted in many photographs, was her indigenous and mestizo roots and the culture of Mexico. 

This was a woman who lived a life in physical pain from several injuries and still painted.

 “I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.” * 

She was a woman who lived a life marked by emotional pain and depression. Her beloved mother, Matilde Calderon, died of breast cancer. Her father, who encouraged her to paint after her horrible accident died of a heart attack. She had several miscarriages. Her husband, Diego Rivera, was infamously unfaithful.

“I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.” **

Frida was a ‘relatable’ artist. Carlos Fuentes, famed Mexican novelist said: 

“Frida found a way of painting pain – of permitting us to see pain and in so doing, reflecting the pain of the world. … She is a figure that represents the conquest of adversity, that represents how – against hell and high water – a person is able to make their life and reinvent themselves and make that life be personally fulfilling… Frida Kahlo in that sense is a symbol of hope, of power, of empowerment…”

Frida’s philosophy of life was described just days before her death, in her still life, using the words Viva La Vida (Long Live Life). 

This was a woman who took pain and depression, placed it on canvas along with her vision, and created beauty. It takes a strong woman to translate tragedy into beauty.  

 “It is not worthwhile,…to leave this world without having had a little fun in life.” ***

That, right there, sums it up. Happy Birthday, Frida.

*Letter to Ella Wolfe, 1938, quoted in Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera In a footnote, Herrera writes that Kahlo had heard this joke from her friend, the poet José Frías.

**Quoted in Time Magazine, “Mexican Autobiography” (27 April 1953) a year before her death.

*** Smithsonian Magazine

Artist Frida Kahlo, Chingonas, Patssi Valdez, Vogue-Mexico, Wisdom

Wisdom for the Weekend-Frida Kahlo

googleimages royalty free

The grey clouds outside, weighted with rain, will last through the weekend. I like the rain, but not when I’m feeling a little down and out. Like now.

Because I know that I can’t let the feelings take over or I’ll bury my head under the covers and stay in my PJ’s all day, I’m assembling some indoor activities to keep myself occupied-to keep my head up. 

I came across this Vogue cover. It’s the November 2012 issue in Mexico. 

Frida Kahlo is one of my very favorite chingonas.I feel  sad that I will miss a museum exhibition that this cover highlights. Las Apariencias Enganan ( Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo) opens on November 22 at the artist’s museum, La Casa Azul in Coyocán, Mexico. Several pieces of Frida’s colorful, unique wardrobe, which set her apart from the women of her time (1930’s-50’s), will be on display.

Frida sits in a tranquil repose on this gorgeous cover. Sitting for Nikolaus Murray, the photographer, must have caused her pain. She suffered from polio, several broken bones including a crushed pelvis from an earlier bus accident, and a spinal cord injury. She was in traction for many months, wore a brace, and limped. And still this woman painted while recuperating in her bed, paintings that are renowned for their surrealist renderings.  

In this photograph, Frida projects a wisdom through her eyes-a knowing. Wisdom has many meanings. A simple yet profound one is from Wikipedia “Wisdom is also the comprehension of what is true coupled with optimum judgment as to action.”  Wisdom is also discernment, insight, lessons learned. 

Some wisdom from Frida Kahlo:

  • Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?  
  • At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can. 

  • Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. 
  • I love a woman with cojones 

  • I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. 

 It’s raining now. I think I’ll begin the morning perusing the short stories and poems in my new issue of Huizache. What a gorgeous cover, huh. The art is titled ” The Crying Tree,” by Patssi Valdez. 

The artist notes, in the back of the book, state: “The crying tree is shedding the tears of distress and pain that one endures in a lifetime.”  When I read her quote I think of the wisdom of her words. 

In the picture, there is growth, vibrancy, fruit, seeds, and living plants growing right underneath that crying tree. I am reminded that although the clouds are heavy and I’m going through a sad period, that there is beauty from pain, grey clouds, and the rain. 

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.