Just in time for theholidays! Get your Frida Kahlo dinner plate! Julie Hellwich from Smart Women Companyis here totell us why women are drawn to Frida’s image or any image that remindsus of ouralter ego on day-to-day objects.
Julie Hellwich is the founder of Smart Women company, which began in 1999 at her kitchen table. She is a former homecoming queen, hockey enthusiast, and environmental geography major. She wanted to create inexpensive gifts for friends.Since then, it has taken off with major success. Even Hillary Clinton owns someSmart Women swag! In 2006, she partnered with the League of Women Voters to launch her Smart Women Vote campaign.
Her success is due to her ethical business practices and her devout Minnesota fan base. She says, “The botom line isn’t the only measure of success.” Indeed! Read On!
“ I love Frida because even on a discounted plate from Marshall’s Home Store, she stands out from the crowd.”Thus notes Nikki Hardin, Publisher of “ Skirt!” Magazine, on the shopping favorites “ Skirt!Loves” (obligatory for women’s magazines) page*.Or, in the words of Lia, my 28 year old daughter, “ One reason I love Frida, is because she is scandalous”.Iconic and scandalous.All this from a gold-rimmed salad plate?
It was under Lia’s shopping tutelage I first learned of Frida. Her holiday gift list read something with Frida’s image’.Why does Frida’s image appeal to us on household images? I think part of it is that women have traditionally left their personal mark (unless they were artists) in the day-to-day objects that centered their lives.
Think appliquéd toaster covers (growing up, ours had a rooster), crocheted tea cozies, embroidered hand towels and knitted mittens. It’s in the everyday objects we use that give women expression. Grandma Betty knit sweaters for Barbie.Crafty knitters today sport skeletons, graffiti, body parts; messages and symbols that juxtapose the culture of sex positive’ with the comfort of snuggly booties. There is a similar dissonance – a nod to extreme-homemaker – that makes sense of the appeal and commercialization of Frida’s art.
I think in some way, Frida sells a message (via the kitchen magnet).A message of acting, acting-out, out of a prescripted female norm.Our prescripted female norms are most present or oppressing in the domestic, every day areas of our lives….how and why we do the cooking, make the bed or set the table.When we drive to the store to get milk, or, put on our lipstick….whether we are acting within the norms or without; by choice or by default, we like to be reminded (visually, tactilely, every day) that we have choices in how we act, acquiesce or rebel.
I like the quote below from a NY Times, (September 8, 2002) article by Stephanie Zacharek, “ Ms. Taymor said the profusion of Kahlo kitsch is not necessarily a bad thing. If people are attached to their mouse pads and magnets, she says, it’s because ”they’re needing something. So we have to ask, ‘What is that? What need does she fill?’ As opposed to saying, ‘Oh, it diminishes her.’ Nothing diminishes her,” Ms. Taymor said. ”There is something that is so direct about her paintings, that says, ‘I am profoundly who I am.’ ”
Maybe the Kahlo kitsch’ reminds us all that we are profoundly who we are’. The images on that mousepad may move us to profoundness’ through our work, communication, or personal appearance – to pluck or not to pluck.
Smart Women Company delivers a message via every-day products. These messages speak to women’s intelligence.“ Smart Women Make Changes” eraser, or, “ Smart Women Thirst for Knowledge’ mug.The messages on these products appeal to women, in part, I believe, because they are a refreshing change from the plethora of products that speak to women’s vanity.
Messages are powerful.Independence is powerful. Frida’s art – and the kitschy manifestations of same – are powerful statements in the art of life (domestic or other).
Charleston South Carolina.