Frida's Mom and I have been waiting for what seems an eternity to see her come to be. A lengthy document was sent my way, with inspiring words, a life story, and the doll's temperament. Words meant to give me guidance, but words that nevertheless froze the visions. I couldn't see Frida. I just couldn't.
Comparing my ideas to what her Mom wanted caused a chasm in the way I usually work. I received first the book, which spurt me to create, but we had to wait to receive the box. Oh! the wonderful box that arrived. Frida started to take shape in my head, if only coyly, at a very annoying slow pace. Shell buttons, glass ones too. Batiste and pearls. Hand dyed silk ribbons, upcycled skirts. Slowly, but surely, Frida started to let me see her.
I think the divide was in the visions and experience I had of the real Frida. A woman that endured so much pain, so full of life, so strong and so troublesome. My mother never liked Frida's work or life, now in her late years however she likes to dress like her. I guess this initial introduction to Frida Kahlo's work via my mother predisposed me, and I couldn't get in touch with her in a deeper way.
When people hear her name many visions come to life (her artwork, her spouse, her lovers, her friends, her activism), when mexican people hear her name many emotions come to life. When I learned that I was to make this doll for her, my heart skipped a beat. I had never contemplated doing a "biographical" doll, especially one like her. But I knew, I just knew, that she would eventually come to me and she did.
It is good, I suppose, that I took so long to see her. It gave me time to get to know her, it reacquainted my hands with mexican clothing, it has being a true blast to work on her, and to remember. To remember my country which I so dearly miss. To think of the skies, full of clouds about to burst on you any other afternoon; to recall the smell of the streets, of the flower markets, of the food stands, of the muddy back roads flanked by meadows, haciendas or wooden fences; to remember the lazy sway of willow trees growing by the river where I grew up, or the five-in-the-afternoon heat; to feel your hair so tightly woven in braids you feel your eyes are growing separated by the minute, or your feet so tired and dusty from wearing the most impractical huaraches (traditional leather sandals).
Making Frida, I know, is a gift. Not to the person who asked to make her, but to me. A gift of my own culture, of my heritage. A gently reminder to turn my eyes down south and smile. To be grateful for the strong pull of the land that saw our birth, and to reminisce the childhood moments that fill my hands with strength to work with them. Artisan is a powerful word in spanish, and is a word I say to myself every now and then.
Thank you Frida.