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Broad Art Museum opens exhibit on Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo exhibit
Posted at 2:44 PM, Jan 17, 2022

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University's Broad Art Museum opened the Kahlo Without Boarders exhibit this weekend taking a closer look at Mexican Artist Frida Kahlo and her health throughout her lifetime.

“This exhibit came about in conversation with Cristina Kahlo, Frida’s grand niece," said Museum Executive Director Monica Ramirez-Montagut.

Kahlo had her first solo exhibit in Mexico in 1953, but most of her work remained unknown until the 1970's.

“She’s one of the most important female artists, women in the 20th century,” Ramirez-Montagut said.

The exhibit is meant to show some of Kahlo's work during her hospital stays.

“We do have a self portrait of Frida from 1932 that was done in a hospital, in the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit soon after she had some health issues,” Ramirez-Montagut said.

And highlight some of the things people might not have known.

“With her doctors she became close friends," 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 actually could not pay her bills, she would actually paint some canvases for her doctors and give them as gifts instead of paying some of the bills.”

Ramirez-Montagut said the collection is meant to be relatable.

“It is a perspective of humanizing someone that has become and icon, almost an image and almost bring her down to Earth and to have a conversation with us during challenging, global pandemics that we’re having right now,” Ramirez-Montagut said.

The exhibit includes pictures from her hospital stays, letters and never before seen medical archives from her hospital stay in Mexico.

“In one of the files it says that she had, for breakfast she had orange juice, but she also had orange juice with two spoons of sugar which means that she was probably diabetic,” Ramirez-Montagut said.

Ramirez-Montagut said she hopes these medical files can be analyzed by health care provides who come see the exhibit.

“We’re showing information on Frida for the first time ever and has not yet been processed so we’re hoping that a lot of research and other people's perspectives will come from visiting this show,” Ramirez-Montagut said.

While this exhibit highlights some of Kahlo's work, it's also meant to highlight health care providers.

“I think a lot of visitors will identify with some of Frida’s situations right and we are living in a global pandemic our health care, healthcare providers, people that take care of us have become of paramount importance in our every day lives," Ramirez-Montagut said.

“Her story is a story of resilience, it’s a story of chronicle pain, it’s story of a very brave women who made this journey widely available to the public through her art and now through stories that she helps us tell through the photos she documented off herself in the hospital and the letters she wrote from the hospital,” Ramirez-Montagut said.

The exhibit is open now through Aug. 7 and is free to attend. The museum will host special events related to the exhibit like Kahol's great niece Cristina Kahlo coming to talk about the exhibit, later this summer.

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