On February 8th, 2019, the Brooklyn Museum will open its doors to the new exhibit showcasing Frida Kahlo's work and personal items. Frida Kahlo: Looks Can Be Deceiving, a Major Exhibition Exploring the Life and Work of the Iconic Mexican Artist will be the first exhibition in the United States to show Kahlo's personal belongings from her lifelong home in Mexico City called "Casa Azul" ("Blue House"). The exhibition will include Kahlo's clothing, cosmetics and other personal items; paintings and drawings by Kahlo; photographs and film; as well as related objects from the Brooklyn Museum's collection.
Appearances Can Be Deceiving will be the largest show dedicated Kahlo in 10 years in the United States. The show may also be the most intricate US exhibition of Kahlo's life to date, doing what no Kahlo exhibition has successfully done before: exploring how politics, gender, clothing, national identities, and disability played a part in defining Kahlo's self-presentation in her work and life.
By emphasizing the importance of Kahlo's personal life and belongings, Appearances Can Be Deceiving will actually be providing a brand new political and personal context to the art of Frida Kahlo that has yet to be shared with the US on a mainstream level. For example, Kahlo, born to a German-Hungarian father and a half-Spanish, half-indigenous Tehuana mother, adopted the dress of the Tehuana region in Oaxaca, Mexico, which later become her recognized fashion signature. She identified herself as an indigenous Mexican woman and expressed this through her clothing, which she often bought from indigenous vendors at Mexico City markets. The traditional Tehuan dress of long skirts and loose blouses allowed Kahlo to control her appearance, as well conceal some of the devices she needed to wear in order to accomodate her disability. Self-definition through politics, ethnicity, and disability were at the heart of her work and her identity.
As a Mexican-American woman whose indigenous blood runs strong, I couldn't be more excited for Appearances Can Be Deceiving. Growing up, I had two different versions of Frida Kahlo: the intimate Frida my father taught to me as part of my cultural heritage, and the elusive Frida that got taught to me by teachers as I, the only Mexican present, was herded around museum halls with 30 other kids. In my opinion, it's about time that Frida Kahlo's political and national identity stop falling to the wayside of her legacy in the US. So, take your parents, take your children, take your significant other, take your friends, and take it in.
Standard tickets go on sale December 3rd and the show will run from February 8th-May 12th, 2019. For more information regarding tickets or museum hours, visit the exhibition page at www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/fridakahlo.
Top photo: Nickolas Muray (American, born Hungary, 1892–1965). Frida in New York, 1946; printed 2006. Carbon pigment print, image: 14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Emily Winthrop Miles Fund, 2010.80. Photo by Nickolas Muray, © Nickolas Muray Photo Archive. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)
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Mia X. Perez is a creative writer and currently studies at NYC's The New School. You can find her published poetry in The Grief Diaries, an online literary journal. You can follow her Instagram @mia.xochitl or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.