There’s A New Frida Kahlo Exhibit That Features Rare Family Photos And It Made Me So Emotional

Frida Kahlo died 63 years ago, yet her presence is alive more than ever.

Frida Kahlo in the Blue House, Anonymous, 1930 ©Frida Kahlo Museum
CREDIT: Frida Kahlo in the Blue House, Anonymous, 1930 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

Since her death, there have been countless exhibits, documentaries, biographies and feature films all in her name. However, her persona is still so inexplicable, which is why we continue to seek her out. It is her persistent and mysterious entity that brought me to Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif., to experience “Frida Kahlo ‐ Her Photos.” This exhibition is unlike any that I’ve ever seen. It does not feature her artwork but rather 240 original photographs that belong to Frida and her family.

The “Frida Kahlo – Her Photos” exhibit in Santa Ana, Calif., is unlike any that I’ve ever seen. It features 240 original photographs that belong to Frida and her family.

“Throughout her life, Frida meticulously collected thousands of photographs of loved ones as well as scenes of Mexican culture, politics, art, history, and nature,” Bowers Museum states. “After her death, the collection was locked away by a grieving Diego Rivera in Frida’s Mexico City family home, Casa Azul.”

This exhibit is incredibly rare because the images have been locked up for 50 years.

But why did I start crying as soon I entered the museum – before even seeing a single photograph?

#bowersmuseum #fridakahlo #streetphotography #fineartphotography #lofi

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Bowers’ beautiful Spanish architecture is breathtaking, but Frida’s presence on the grounds is palpable.

Frida’s image can be seen on posters and billboards throughout the streets of Santa Ana and Anaheim. It really gave the city a whole new cultural take. Given Frida’s Mexican roots and the large Latino population in the area, the visual of her face really put historical context to her influence.

Once inside the museum, and upon entering the exhibit, it’s as if Frida’s spirit guided me inside her sacred world.

If you click on #BowersMuseum on Instagram, you will see the many people that visited just to see this Frida show.

The show begins with a rare look at the history of her family.

"Frida Kahlo - Her Photos"
CREDIT: “Frida Kahlo – Her Photos”

Guests can see several images of her father, Guillermo Kahlo, and her mother Matilde Calderón y González, and her extended family. I had no idea how affluent her family was. Even more incredible was the fact that Frida’s mother was as eccentric as she was.

We also see beautiful images of Frida as a little girl.

Frida at the age of 5, Anonymous, 1912 ©Frida Kahlo Museum
CREDIT: Frida at the age of 5, Anonymous, 1912 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

This part really got me choked up. Here we have young Frida, a future revolutionary in the making and a child that would grow up to inspire so many. The show is divided into six sections and follows her life in a chronological order.

Aside from famous images we’ve seen of Frida, the show has some really amazing shots of the artist that most haven’t seen before.

Frida Kahlo, by Guillermo Kahlo, 1926 ©Frida Kahlo Museum
CREDIT: Frida Kahlo, by Guillermo Kahlo, 1926 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

It’s quite stunning to witness Frida developing as a young girl into adulthood through these images. You can literally see how Mexico and her family influenced her style and early work.

One of the most touching moments in the show is this picture of Diego with Frida’s kiss marks.

Diego Rivera (in his study at San Ángel), Anonymous, ca. 1940 ©Frida Kahlo Museum
CREDIT: Diego Rivera (in his study at San Ángel), Anonymous, ca. 1940 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

While most fans know a lot about the relationship between Diego and Frida, here we can see her true devotion of the man that influenced her tremendously.

On the wall above some these photographs of Diego reads a quote by Frida:

“I have suffered two serious accidents in my life, one in which a streetcar ran over me….the other accident is Diego.”

Of this love, a historian, who was featured in a short film in the exhibition said, that her love for Diego was more than intense and desperate. It was a fixation because he introduced her to art, culture, notoriety, desire, and, of course, love.

The images of Frida after her accident are especially heartfelt because fans can fully grasp her excruciating pain and unwavering spirit.

Frida in the New York hospital, by Nickolas Muray, 1946 ©Frida Kahlo Museum
CREDIT: Frida in the New York hospital, by Nickolas Muray, 1946 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

I found the images of her incapacitated state to be moving and made me feel more appreciative of the art she created during this time.

One of the reasons I believe people, especially women, adore Frida so much is because she owned up to all of her realities and never made excuses for who she was. Here was a woman that painted her pain, her fears, her loves, and herself regardless of her insecurities or what anyone else thought.

Naturally, even after I exited the exhibit, I still couldn’t get enough of Frida’s spirt. So I went crazy at the gift shop and stocked up on Frida goods.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

I highly recommend buying “Frida Kahlo: Her Photos,” because it contains images from this show and many more.

This exhibit will be on view at the Bowers Museum, 2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA, through June 25, 2017.

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