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'You can feel Frida': Family of Frida Kahlo visits immersive exhibit of artist's work in Dallas

Frida Kahlo's relatives are working to honor and protect the Mexican painter's legacy, and they hope her life and art will inspire a new generation.

DALLAS — It’s the story of an extraordinary life and an icon. 

Inside of an old building along South Harwood Street in the heart of Dallas, visitors were mesmerized by the brightly-colored moving artwork of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.  

On Friday, Kahlo’s living relatives visited the Immersive Frida Kahlo exhibit launched in Dallas. The Frida show in Dallas is among six exhibits launching across the country.  

Mara Kahlo, Frida’s grandniece and president of the Frida Kahlo Foundation, and Mara De Anda, Frida’s great-grandniece, traveled from Mexico City to explore the exhibit.

“It’s exciting to be here,” De Anda said.  

Frida’s relatives spoke to WFAA about the artist’s life and legacy. Her family members worked in unison with LighthouseImmersive to provide information and accuracy surrounding Frida Kahlo’s life and the history of the Mexican Revolution.

For Mara Kahlo, hearing the music overhead and seeing the moving artwork displayed in 500,000 cubic feet was emotional.  

“You can feel Frida,” Mara Kahlo said. 

“I think everybody can feel the power, the strength, the passion for life,” De Anda said. 

Frida Kahlo’s world-renowned self-portraits, identified as magic realism, give a glimpse of the painter’s inner thoughts and struggles.  

“She was ahead of her time. So, I think that’s why we connect with Frida the most,” De Anda said.  

For generations, Frida Kahlo has been considered a feminist icon who broke barriers both in her personal life and in the art world. Her family members told WFAA she exuded joy despite living through many hardships. 

Frida Kahlo lived through the Mexican revolution, chronic illness and a stormy marriage to the famous Mexican painter, Diego Rivera, which ended in divorce.  

“She used to make jokes, sing Mexican songs… she was a very happy person,” Mara Kahlo said. “She cried, but she was happy.” 

Her paintings portray a life of suffering, but she always found strength.  

“For us, Frida is not a sad Frida, a ‘sufrida’ Frida… It’s the joy one, the aunt Frida,” Mara De Anda said.  

Their aunt Frida continues to inspire new generations nearly 70 years after her death in 1954.  

“We’re proud. It’s an honor to be part of her family, but a great responsibility to make the legacy secure and to protect the legacy,” Mara Kahlo said  

Their hope is that a new generation will understand and embrace every side of Frida: the artist and the woman.  

The exhibit will run through April 17. For more information, visit the exhibit's website.

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