The Arizona Republic
The Phoenix Fridas, a collective of eight Latina artists, will host the celebration at the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center in downtown Phoenix as a sort of Frida festival, featuring entertainment, shopping and a Kahlo lookalike contest. “Frida is the most celebrated Latina artist in the world right now,” said Carmen Guerrero, known as the Frida Beader for her jewelry and beadwork. Kahlo is most famous for her self-portraits, which often depicted the artist in great pain. In 1925, she was in a bus accident that left her with a broken spinal column, a broken pelvis and other injuries that made her unable to have children. The Phoenix Fridas was founded by Kathy Cano Murillo, also known as the author and columnist Crafty Chica, who wanted to give Phoenix a women’s art collective, Guerrero said. Each woman in the Phoenix Fridas has a craft specialty. Samples of their work, including paintings, jewelry, needlework, home and fashion accessories, will be on sale at the celebration. “As we become more of a digitalized society, not enough people are spending time doing things with their hands,” Guerrero said. “We have this incredible and creative spirit inside of us. We need more time to play with our creative selves.” Guerrero, a musician, will perform. Murillo will read an excerpt from her new novel, “Waking Up in the Land of Glitter.” Anita Mabante Leach, a fabrics crafter known as La Panchita Frida, said “Let Frida Reign!” welcomes people from all walks of life. Visitors of any age can stop by the “¡Ay! ¡Brows!” booth, where they can get their own unibrow penciled on. “People get a kick out of learning about Frida,” Leach said. “She lived her life so large and shared herself with people, and that’s what we want to do.” Kahlo became more of a household name in America after the biographical film “Frida” was released in 2002, earning Selma Hayek an Oscar nomination as best actress. While the members of the Phoenix Fridas group are not political in nature, they know Kahlo’s name carries connotations of activism. Kahlo and her husband, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, were Communists. “We don’t agree with Frida’s politics, but we do agree with the manner in which she was able to express her emotions,” Leach said. “We add to the community a sense of fun and passion as well as a touch of rebelliousness at the status quo.” Leach said “Let Frida Reign!” is a way for the Phoenix Fridas to express themselves amidst Arizona’s fierce immigration debate. “We wanted something that would help temper the extreme attitudes and show that there are a lot of good things about the Latina community just waiting for people to discover and experience,” Leach said. Celebrating common ground is the theme of the event, which uses the Statue of Liberty as its logo. “This is not an event just for Latinos,” Leach said. “This is an event for everyone.”
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