We’re reimagining the People’s Collection, and your favorites may be on the move. If you’re visiting to see a particular object, please email help@ncartmuseum.org to confirm it’s on view. Staff will respond as soon as possible during gallery hours, Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm.

Our Judaic, Rodin, Italian, Dutch and Renaissance, and Modern and Contemporary galleries will remain on view through May 29, 2022, along with a selection of works from the African arts collection. West Building will then close to the public, reopening October 8, 2022. Learn more about this exciting reinstallation project and related reopening celebrations. 

Honoring Frida Kahlo’s Life and Legacy

/ October 23, 2019

Starting October 26 the NCMA presents Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. The exhibition displays the paintings of two artists who became icons of the 20th century. To understand how Kahlo embodies this role, and the impact she has on the artistic community, we sat down with Peter Marin, an artist from Mexico City who created the Día de los Muertos ofrenda to Frida Kahlo as part of the exhibition.

Marin was introduced to Kahlo’s work around the age of five or six. He recalls his father discussing Mexican art and often mentioning her, as well as Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. Because Kahlo frequently appeared in Rivera’s murals, Marin soon became aware of her image and grew to learn more about her art through many conversations with his father.

Intrigued by Kahlo’s dreamlike interpretation of reality, Marin has taken inspiration from her work throughout his life as a painter. When asked what about Kahlo has captured the public’s imagination, Marin responds: “She is emblematic of the American Dream. She is the inspiration to overcome adversity, to love without end, and to never betray our passion.”

Marin’s ofrenda (a collection of objects placed on a ritual display during the annual Day of the Dead celebration) has been created to pay respect to Kahlo as an artist, and to celebrate her contributions to Mexico and Mexican culture.

“Hers is a household name and is ubiquitous in the artists, artisans, and the artesania [crafts] of any state. She has captured the hearts of Mexico by being an artist, and a Mexican: strong, passionate, artistic, and with faults.” Marin describes Kahlo as a “maestro,” a master of craft and a teacher of culture. He explains that it is not the first time he has honored and offered tribute to her through his art, and it will most likely not be the last. “For me, it is remembering Frida, who taught me the spirit of being a Mexican artist, who inspired me to look inward and face my circumstance and to make art out of life.”

When asked how his ofrenda allows viewers to express their enthusiasm and regard for Kahlo while still respecting her as a person, Marin exclaims, “It is funny that Frida has become capitalism’s darling! She was a communist and would have never signed off on any of the millions of contracts she now licenses her image to. I do not think the public thinks of her as a communist, rather as an icon of self. She is synonymous with feminism and modernity, and has helped forge the identity of the modern woman. This is significant, and alone a reason to celebrate her.”

Marin’s ofrenda was made to be interactive. He has made available small offerings that visitors can write messages on, dedicated to Frida, Diego, or loved ones who have passed.

“Mexican culture is always about sharing, and this project has this value at the center of its ethos,” he said. “Every one of us knows a person who is dead. Let us celebrate what makes us human: death.”

Viva la Vida, Viva la Frida!

View the ofrenda in the exhibition and also at Duke Energy Family Day: Día de la Familia on November 2. Visitors are invited to participate by writing a note and dropping it into a designated area of the ofrenda.

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