You can teach your kids about the artistic greats in books or in theory, but nothing compares to seeing and experiencing an artist’s works and learning about their life in person. Frida and Me, a new exhibit at The San Diego Museum of Art achieves this task brilliantly by introducing kids to Frida Kahlo via hands-on, interactive stations that provide a portal into Kahlo’s life via first person storytelling. It’s as if the artist herself is there explaining her art and telling her story to kids. Read on to learn more about this groundbreaking exhibit.

Artistic Interpretation
The exhibit is comprised of a playful circuit of activity stations that can be experienced in any order. The stations highlight six different themes in the iconic artist’s work that create a well-rounded picture of the aspects of Kahlo’s life that most influenced her art: the self-portrait, pain, family, nature, her husband and a painter himself, Diego Rivera and Paris. Frida speaks directly to each child on the labels and captions––telling them facts about her life and asking them about theirs.

In the station above, kids are invited to “stage” themselves by choosing between several backgrounds and props to create their own setting for a self-portrait––and to decide on a pose and whether they want to smile or look serious, etc. Next, they can have their picture taken via the iPhone type large camera set up in front of the setting.

Tap in to the Artist Within
Frida explains the reason behind her many self-portraits: “I paint myself because I am so often alone, and I am the subject I know best.” Kids are invited to sit in this station and re-create the portrait of Frida Kahlo on the board in front of them. Frida explains that her father gave her oil paints and her mother made her a special easel because she was in bed for a year recovering from her bus accident and began painting to pass the time. She tells kids they should try laying in bed and looking in a mirror to see what kind of self-portrait they can create in the same fashion she did.

Frida’s Marriage to Diego Rivera
Here Frida explains that her mother told her on her wedding day to Diego Rivera that he was 20 years older, 20 centimeters taller and 20 kilos heavier than her. Kids learn that she and her husband shared a love of painting and were both artists. Note: some of Diego Rivera’s paintings are on display in the larger exhibit outside the Frida and Me exhibit. (More on this below).

The Bigger Picture: Frida’s Work as Influenced by Her Life Experiences
Frida explains in this station that she went through several surgeries to repair her broken bones after her bus accident. Kids are invited to piece the parts of the skeleton back together paying special attention to the red crosses that denote her injuries. Frida explains that she felt a lot of pain in her life and also asks kids:  “Did you ever break an arm or leg?”

Kids may learn more about family trees by creating and moving around different images of people on the board above and on the touchscreen below. Frida asks: “Do you know about your family tree?”

Incorporating modern-technology into the hands-on exhibit enables kids of all ages to fashion family trees with a simple swipe.

This puzzle teaches kids about surrealism in a tangible way. Frida tells kids: “Play with the cards, combine the shapes––strange creatures appear and take you into a fantasy world.”

Frida tells kids to sit in a series of chairs that are designed to be uncomfortable to teach them about her many physical injuries and to view X-rays of her leg and spine.

At this station, kids can pick up the phone to listen to Frida speak about several aspects of her life story.

Good to know: Frida and Me is part of the larger special exhibition Modern Masters from Latin America: The Pérez Simón Collection which showcases 102 works by some of the greatest modern masters, including Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera. After learning so much about Frida as a person, kids will better relate to and appreciate her paintings in this larger exhibit.

Frida & Me is open now through March 11, 2018.

San Diego Museum of Art
1450 El Prado
San Diego, Ca 92101

Will you be visiting Frida and Me with your kids? Let us know in the comments.

––Beth Shea, Images by Beth Shea