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Descendent of Frida Kahlo speaks at Fridafest 2016

July 9, 2016 GMT

Cristina Kahlo has more than the just same last name of the iconic painter Frida Kahlo — the two share the same bloodline. Kahlo, the painter’s grand-niece, said having the same last name comes with a responsibility.

The professional photographer said although she has her career, being part of the Kahlo family is like having a second job — when asked to speak about her family, Kahlo rarely refuses.

“I have to do it because it’s my family, and I want people to know the real story,” she said in Spanish. “You can read many things about the family, which are not always true, but on the other hand, it’s very nice that people do like someone from your family.”

Kahlo was scheduled to give a lecture at the Edinburg Arts’ third annual Fridafest on her great-aunt’s life gathered from personal letters the painter hand wrote to her family and friends.

“I took a few fragments of letters written by Frida to make a narration,” the Mexico City native said. “Apart from her painted works, she was a great writer of letters. I feel that the letters are invaluable documents because the accounts are written by her hand. She is the one who narrates what is happening in her life and you have the place where she was and the date. They’re very important documents for the construction of the story of her life.”

Kahlo speculates that people admire her aunt, not because of what she has done for women or her art, but because of her story.

“It’s not necessarily that they know her work as an artist or painter but because they know her as a person, as a woman, as someone who had a complicated life, and I think that that generates many women and many people to identify with her. Not so much in the artistic aspect, but more in the human aspect.”

She said that Frida Kahlo wasn’t as iconic when she was growing up as she is now.

“Frida Kahlo was converted into a persona; she was discovered as an interesting person, overall by the feminists in the United States around 1980,” she said. “I was already a young woman by that time, and before the ’80s, being a relative of Frida Kahlo was interesting for very educated people who knew Frida was Diego Rivera’s wife and that she was a painter. But in reality, it was after 1980 that having the Kahlo name turned into something important.”

Kahlo’s presentation will also focus on Guillermo Kahlo, Frida’s father, a world-renowned photographer.

“He was a great architecture photographer, but because Frida Kahlo became so famous, then Guillermo Kahlo was not so interesting,” she said. “Now, the interest on Guillermo is also growing, so people from the family also have to talk about them and go to the exhibitions and to interviews. It’s not a problem.”

For more information on the festival, visit Edinburgarts.com.

A live version of this interview can be found on The Monitor ’s Facebook page.

“Coming from the family, you have a responsibility to your ancestors,” Kahlo said. “For me, I think the fact that people have such affection besides admiration for Frida Kahlo, it gives us joy and happiness.”