Relatives remember Frida Kahlo ahead of Chicago exhibit opening: 'She is an icon'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Frida Kahlo, a renowned Mexican artist ahead of her time, was also a loving aunt.

"She wrote me a letter. She said, 'You are the most beautiful baby I have known,'" said Mara Romeo Kahlo, Frida's grand-niece. "I'm not so beautiful, but I have a great care, like her."

Mara is the only niece Frida ever had. Mara and her daughter, Mara de Anda, headed to Chicago for an art installation called "Immersive Frida Kahlo," which highlights Frida as her family sees her.

"In the family way, we have this Frida that is happy, that sings songs," said Mara De Anda.

The public knows Frida's pain, struggle and passion, but her loved ones said there was also happiness, family moments and singing.

Frida's lasting influence remains alive in Pilsen at the Museum of Mexican Art. The museum has been getting works out of their vault. On March 5, "Surrounding Kahlo: Works from the Permanent Collection" will open. The exhibit will showcase artists inspired by Frida.

"We haven't had an exhibit of Frida Kahlo's work for over 10 years," said Rebecca D. Meyers, permanent collection curator at the National Museum of Mexican Art. "She is someone that people really want to see and continue to explore."

And there are family secrets, remembered both relatives named Mara and Mara De Anda. Frida got the name "Mara" from a movie.

"With that name, she wrote to her lovers," Mara said. "Many of her paintings are signed with the name of Mara, so Mara is also Frida."

"She is an icon. We can admire her," added Mara De Anda.

And Frida Kahlo, a strong woman of her own right, would have this to say to all of us.

Mara said Frida's message is important.

"The message is, 'You can do it. And, you don't need a man do to that. You can do it alone and very well.' That's what my Aunt Frida would say," Mara said.
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