This is a photo I saw in person at an exhibition about a year or two ago that really inspired me. It’s Mexican artist Frida Kahlo strapped up and bed-ridden sometime after the trolley accident that left her dealing with physical pain and treatment for much of her life. When I saw it, immediately I thought, “Well damn, I really have no excuse! Nobody does!” To see her rigged up the way that she was, most likely in quite a bit of pain, yet still pushing herself to create left me awe-struck. Even if she was doing this just to pass the time, it’s still quite remarkable. This is an image that I think back on whenever I realize that I’m making excuses about my own lack of production. It’s an image that gave me a jolt of motivation at a time when I was in a deep creative slump and didn’t prioritize much time for expelling any creative energy.
I don’t claim to know a whole lot about Frida Kahlo, but I will say that the photo above told me so much about her spirit and passion. A fire that I think artists (or perhaps anyone, really) need to harness and apply to life in order to stand a good chance at attaining a bit of personal fulfillment. To be honest I wouldn’t even say that Kahlo’s painting skills were technically perfect (sorry!). A lot of us may have seen artwork that we would deem more precise and dynamic than hers, that just comes down to personal opinion obviously. But looking back at her body of work, to me it was clear that she put her heart and soul into whatever she created; losing herself in the meaning and the act of expressing her inner self regardless of how it looked next to anyone else’s art.
That’s what I take away from her legacy and that’s what has pushed me to take risks with my own work this year, and hopefully beyond. Thinking about that woman’s tenacity deeply inspired me to finally start to care a lot less about any external factors, just create whatever the hell I wanted to express, and keep pushing forward in my own way. And maybe that’s all it’s really about.
These things I share in the hope that you Artists out there reading this will either renew or maintain momentum with your work. It’s a constant struggle, I know, but it’s not impossible! Even if Frida Kahlo’s work has never moved you before, I ask that you take another look. At the very least “right click” and “save as” the image of her in bed above, use it as a reminder to refuse to roadblock yourself.