Erica Richard is the Coordinator of School Programs & Teaching Resources at the DAM.
Did you know that Frida Kahlo was also a teacher? Kahlo nurtured the lives of young children and several older students as well—most notably Los Fridos was a group of artists who studied under Kahlo and became close friends with her. We are excited that Kahlo’s legacy continues to inspire students far and wide!
In connection with the (now-closed) exhibition Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism: From the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, the museum Web Quest provides activities to help students and teachers understand the concept of Lo real maravilloso, or the marvelous real, a theme ever-present in the exhibition. The term that has come to be known as Lo real maravilloso reflects Mexico’s layered cultural heritage, multiple and conflicting histories, contradictions in everyday life, and social discord to create artworks with improbable juxtapositions.
Frida Kahlo said, “I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.”
Inspired by this idea and Kahlo herself, students and teachers from across Denver Public Schools were invited to plan, create, and reflect on a work of art that combined the real world with the dream world to create a Surrealist self-portrait and poem. In this district-wide challenge participants learned that they make for excellent art subjects, their dreams and reality are more connected than they imagined, and that creating art during remote learning is both challenging and essential.
This virtual challenge and exhibition are entirely student and teacher created and curated during the challenging time of remote learning. Students were empowered to find their voice using materials accessible at home and documented using technology available to them. Not only are these artworks authentic responses to the open-ended challenge, but they are a testament to the resourcefulness and resilience of students and teachers during difficult times. These artworks also showcase the power of the arts to bring personal insight and meaning to our lives by sharing our stories and experiences with others.
Eighteen schools (from early childhood to high school) across the city participated with more than 200 artwork entries. We would like to give special acknowledgement to 13 artists including three artist-educators who, like Kahlo’s students, Los Fridos, explored how cultural aspects of their lives were depicted in society and displayed not only creativity but curiosity, resilience, and strength. Explore the works by 13 DAM Los Fridistas Award winners in the slideshow below (click on images to see them without the captions). We also invite you to check out the full digital exhibition.
Alfi, 5th Grade, Oakland Elementary
Cage, McAuliffe International
Elise, 6th grade, Florida Pitt-Waller
Emily, 5th Grade, Slavens K-8
Kamily, 12th Grade, NEC Early College
Masara, South High School
Nayanah, 2nd Grade, Barnum Elementary
Rayen, McAuliffe International
Rubendinho, 4th grade, Marrama Elementary
Sara, 12th Grade, NEC Early College
Ms. Constance, Oakland Elementary
Mr. Horeis, Montclair Elementary
Ms. Nold, Marrama Elementary