Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits show a striking women dressed in traditional Mexican fashion with untamed facial hair. Kahlo has become somewhat of a popular culture icon in recent times. Her face is often seen plastered on mugs, posters and t-shirts.
The Fort Collins Museum of Art presents the “Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray” exhibit that will run from Oct. 7, 2016 until Jan. 8, 2017.
The exhibit features the photography of Nickolas Muray dating from 1937 to 1946. Murray first met Kahlo when he was vacationing in Mexico. Over the years, Kahlo and Murray became close friends and lovers. His portraits focused on Kahlo’s personal life, which mostly included her Mexican heritage and her relationships.
The exhibit has two rooms that display Muray’s photographs of Kahlo. There is an area for children to play with Kahlo-inspired toys and a viewing area for the movie “The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo.” Also displayed are photographs of letter correspondences between Kahlo and Muray. Free audio commentary was available for mobile access.
Paige Schartz visited the exhibit on one of its open admission days. She felt neutrally about the exhibit after visiting it.
“The pictures were good for the 1930s,” Schartz said. “Not by today’s standards because you know anybody can take that picture. In the 1930s it was impressive.”
Louma Levin-Harris also visited the exhibit. As a fan of Kahlo, she was interested in learning more about her life.
“I really enjoyed it,” Levin-Harris said. “I’ve never seen any of these pictures before, and they really tell very interesting stories. I learned about personal details of her life that I didn’t know before.”
The exhibit focused on telling Kahlo’s story through portraits. Kahlo believed that portraits were a good way for people to know her.
A quote from Kahlo is featured in the exhibit: “I leave you my portrait so that you will have my presence all the days and nights I am away from you.”
According to Levin-Harris, the exhibit highlighted Kahlo as a person instead of an icon. She learned that Kahlo enjoyed dressing in traditional Mexican fashion because the big dresses would hide her deformed leg and simply because she liked it.
“I thought that’s kind of cool because that’s how everyone feels sometimes,” Levin-Harris. “I like this dress because I just like it. She made it her own.”
The photographs are framed in simple black frames against brightly colored walls. Each photograph has a plaque explaining what is happening in the picture including dates and names of the people involved.
“The pictures were great quality,” Levin-Harris said. “They did it very simply with the frames. It really encapsulates who she is as a person, and it also showcases her in a way I have never seen before, which is very interesting.”
Due to the small size of the exhibit, visitors have the option of getting through it quickly. For others, the small size allows them to soak in the exhibit.
“Most museums would take four hours, and this would take five minutes,” Schartz said.
“I like small exhibits,” Levins-Harris said. “You come in, you come for an hour, you really enjoy it and you leave with interesting insights. It’s very interesting but not overwhelming.”
Inez Hughes works at the gift shop of the museum. She has observed the turn out for the exhibit’s opening weekend and listened to feedback. She estimates that there were 600 visitors to the exhibit in its first two days of it being open.
Hughes thinks that people are visiting the exhibit due to the museum’s online advertising.
“They’ve followed [Kahlo’s] art,” Hughes said. “They’ve looked her up online, and the advertising we have done has just brought them in. It’s been very exciting.”
Along with the exhibit, the museum will hold a series of social and educational events about Kahlo including educational lunches, social evenings, a party, movie screenings and a dance performance. The museum also hosts open admission days.
To see the full list of activities, visit ftcma.org. The hours for the museum are Wednesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.