¡Víva La Vida!

SPRING 2020

by Hector Garza, Cohort ’18

The author, Hector Garza at Casa Azul. January 2020. Photo courtesy of Hector Garza
The author, Hector Garza at Casa Azul. January 2020. Photo courtesy of Hector Garza

Nestled in a quiet neighborhood in Coyoacán, Mexico City, La Casa Azul serves as an oasis for creative minds and curious spectators with the desire to look beyond the cobalt blue exterior of artist Frida Kahlo’s birthplace, childhood residence, and place of death, and enter into the intimate universe of an artist who experienced immense pain and suffering. Kahlo impacted the art world with her unconventional lifestyle and love of life; a spirit that continues to reverberate, influence and shape contemporary art and culture. While many of the artifacts I found in her house have been exhibited in various museums, seeing these treasured objects in La Casa Azul is an unforgettable feeling. It’s an intimate experience to be so close to the objects Frida Kahlo treasured in her lifetime. Added in 1944 by architect Juan O’ Gorman, Kahlo’s studio is surrounded by glass windows and bathed in natural light. A beautiful wooden easel stands tall surrounded by glass vials of paints and brushes on wooden tables with a mirror and other tools. Her wheelchair sits in front of the easel symbolizing her months recovering from the trolley accident she suffered when she was a young girl.

Kitchen of Casa Azul. Photo by Hector Garza
Kitchen of Casa Azul. Photo by Hector Garza

La Casa Azul fed my creative spirit as I walked through each room painted in different colors to compliment the exquisite furnishings and artifacts. I was immediately overcome with emotion from the energy that can be felt when walking through the house and admiring the beautiful furnishings and folk art that shaped the space in which Kahlo grew up. Frida Kahlo has had a lasting impact on my work throughout my life. The way in which she translated her life through the medium of paint on canvas, journal writing, and the way she boldly lived her life inspires me to open my mind to new possibilities of examining my own identity.

In my own artwork, my Fridita series positions the figure of Frida within a contemporary context as a writer, professor, boxer, activist, astronaut, and Mexican luchadora. My work celebrates women and the way in which Frida’s message of owning one’s self-identity and overcoming great obstacles despite her disabilities translates into the visual narrative of contemporary pop culture. My style combines elements from my Mexican heritage and my love of Japanese Kawaii style. This combination of styles is all about embracing who you are, and utilizes bold colors to create relatable and adorable characters that evoke a lighthearted spirit. By combining these two styles, I am celebrating and reinterpreting Frida Kahlo’s image into a new figure that connects, celebrates and empowers all people from various cultures and walks of life.

 

!Víva La Vida! by Hector Garza
!Víva La Vida! by Hector Garza