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Frida Builds a Patrimony of Cultural Ideals

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From a young age, Frida has been an advocate and critic of her society and of others. When she was a teenager, she attended the National Preparatory School and she was part of a group of young people who showed sympathy for socialism and cultural nationalism. Later, Kahlo joined the Mexican Communist Party during the 1920s. The following examples demonstrate Frida’s use of politics as fuel, much like her physical pain.

What the water gave to me is an artwork which was considered to fit more towards the surrealist movement in Frida’s art, depicting a private moment in which Frida is having a bath and she meditates upon her whole life (Figure 3). Here again, Frida takes about the suffering of the Mexican people and their culture from the presence of these two countries by being exploited in their natural resources and wealth. Even though the forms of exploitations have changed over the years, the impact upon the Mexican people was the same, thus harming their economy and making the people poorer. 

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Other paintings such as Self-portrait on the borderline between Mexico and the United States (figure 4), are explicit criticisms of the United States. Frida puts herself in a landscape between the industrialized US and a pre-industrial Mexico. She paints the United States’ part with three machines which have electronic roots. One of them converts into the roots of the Mexican plant and the other root is located beneath the pedestal where Frida stands. There are factories and smoke in the US side, and this all landscape contrasts with the Mexican side which produces plants from the fertile land and whom ancestors belong to the great civilizations of the pre-Columbian world represented by Main Temple at Tenochtitlan. 

Another painting showing her anti-US stance is My dress hangs there, (Figure 5). The entire idea that this painting conveys is criticism about the North American industrialism and how Mexico suffers directly as a result. Frida Kahlo died at 47 and was a political activist who never gave up fighting for a unified country under the philosophy of socialism. She dealt with the issues of both political and cultural identity within the context of other nationalist discourses. As a result, there is evidence that she is illustrating her psychological pain through her cultural heritage and political ideas as well.

By remaining artistically active under the weight of sadness, Kahlo gave the world a vicious and uncompromising look, not just through her physical wounds, but also the psychological wounds buried within her cultural identity and political stance. As for her legacy, she stands as a defiant female presence in a male-centric world, and one who defined her own image, making it legitimate for women to outwardly display their pains as they are an intrinsic part of life. 

Frida builds a patrimony of cultural ideals and social values that are today important for her country and the world. She is the archetype in which life and artwork become inseparable and through movements such as feminism and the MeToo resulted in widespread commercial use of her image became a phenomenon that has taken on a life of its own quite separate from the body of work she left behind.   

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