“She was a genius…an ace manipulator of society and media nearly a century before social media came into existence. Born in 1907, dead at 47, Frida Kahlo achieved celebrity even in her brief lifetime that extended far beyond Mexico’s borders, although nothing like the cult status that would eventually make her the mother of the selfie, her indelible image recognizable everywhere.” G. Trebay, NYT
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Frida Kahlo Is Having a Moment by Guy Trebay,NYT
“Yet, despite the many biographies, documentaries and biopics, there remains much to learn about this often misunderstood artist… a proto-feminist who invested her art with an autobiography filled with struggle and pain. She was also an ardent Communist who sometimes fudged her date of birth to align with the start of the Mexican Revolution…In a welcome though unexpected convergence, an array of new books and exhibitions about Kahlo have suddenly appeared this spring, adding insight and depth to our understanding of a woman who would seem among the most overexposed artistic figures of all time.
While it seems clear that artists like Tracey Emin have fallen under the influence of her audacious self-disclosures; that designers — like Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy and Jean Paul Gaultier — have drawn inspiration from her style; and that entertainers like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé shrewdly adapted the lessons pioneered by a publicity-friendly solipsist who anticipated the Instagram era by many decades, Kahlo remains in some ways an enigma. In Mirror, Mirror, a portrait-survey that opens this month at Throckmorton Fine Art in Manhattan, Kahlo is revealed to have been an image wizard… Frida did not miss an opportunity to be photographed by anyone and everyone, said Norberto Rivera, the photography director at the gallery.
She created this image to hide the pain, referring to the lifelong aftereffects of severe injuries Kahlo suffered in a streetcar accident when she was 18. In under two decades, aided by a well-regarded biography and asoapy biopic, Kahlo had undergone transformation from a compelling cult figure to a universally recognized symbol of artistic triumph and feminist struggle. Somehow along the way she also became a centerpiece of a kitsch marketing bonanza.
The Fridamania that elevated Kahlo to near-mythic dimensions also transformed her — brooding gaze, elaborate Tehuana coiffures, signature mono-brow — into an image emblazoned on sneakers, T-shirts, tote bags, coasters, cosmetics, even tequila and beer. Unlike Che Guevara, who when he became a T-shirt and a poster was scarcely identifiable as the leader of the Cuban revolution… Frida Kahlo remains Frida Kahlo… there is little doubt Kahlo continues to exist as a potent figure of myth.”
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming
Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about Frida Kahlo. Next, have students look at the pictures and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.
II. While Reading Tasks
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Despite the many biopics, kahlo is misunderstood.
- She was also an ardent Communist.
- She fudged her date of birth to align with the start of the Mexican Revolution.
- An array of new books about Kahlo have suddenly appeared.
- Artists have fallen under the influence of her audacious self-disclosures.
- Kahlo was a publicity-friendly solipsist.
- Kahlo anticipated the Instagram era.
- Kahlo suffered severe injuries a streetcar accident.
- The self-portraits unsparingly depict her physical travails.
- “Fridamania shows no signs of relenting.
Reading Comprehension: Word -Recognition
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
Fine/find catalogs accompany/accompanying each exhibition/exhibit add to an ever-expanding Kahlo literary/library, and yet in certain ways it is the newly published “Frida Kahlo: The Gisèle Freund Photographs,” that offers/off the most intimidate/intimate insights into her life and working process/progress. Its 100 rave/rare images document/documents a friendship that the Magnum photographer conduct/conducted with the couple in the last years/yearly before Kahlo’s death; both Kahlo and Rivera shine forth/fourth from these domestic images.
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- Yet, despite the many biography there remains much to learn about this artist.
- She was an ardent Communist.
- Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy and Jean Paul Gaultier have drawn inspiration from her style.
- Kahlo remains in some ways an enigma.
- Kahlo is revealed to have been an image wizard.
- Frida Kahlo’s fame is extensive.
- Another Kahlo painting was featured on a cover of a Sotheby’s catalog.
- This portrait, of the artist with a parrot and a monkey, sold for more than $3 million.
- Fridamania show no signs of relenting.
III. Post Reading Tasks
Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea
Directions: Have students use this graphic organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist them with discussing or writing about the main points from the article.
Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.
1. The following statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each statement in your own words, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.
“…entertainers like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé shrewdly adapted the lessons pioneered by a publicity-friendly solipsist who anticipated the Instagram era by many decades, Kahlo remains in some ways an enigma.”
“In under two decades, aided by a well-regarded biography and asoapy biopic, Kahlo had undergone transformation from a compelling cult figure to a universally recognized symbol of artistic triumph and feminist struggle. Somehow along the way she also became a centerpiece of a kitsch marketing bonanza.”
“I remember buying as a gift Frida Kahlo Converse sneakers at 10 Corso Como,” said Robert Burke, a luxury consultant, referring to the high-end Milanese retailer. Though that was fun and good, there’s only a certain amount of times an image can be used before it starts to fatigue and degrade.”
1-Minute Free Writing Exercise
Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading. Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.