It takes more than a decade to personify the Mexican artist through living paintings

Karin Guerra learned of the existence of Frida Khalo when at the age of ten she emigrated from Guatemala to Los Angeles along with her mother. At school he learned from her and fell in love with the artist, to the degree that it has been eleven years that gives life to the paintings of the great universal artist through living paintings.

“I feel that Frida has always been part of my life. When I started looking at her paintings, I felt a connection with her, ”says Karin who grew up in Hermosa Beach, a beach town in Los Angeles County; and graduated from the graphic design career at Cal State Long Beach University.

It all started when in his art classes, his teachers told him that he looked a lot like Frida, the great Mexican artist born in Coyoacán, Mexico.

“I have the same eyebrows and even Frida's mustache,” says Karin laughing.

Karin Guerra greatly admires Frida Khalo for her strength and the love she had for muralist Diego Rivera. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).

It was three years after she married the Mexican Miguel Ángel Ríos, that her husband encouraged her to take advantage of her resemblance to Frida and her talent for art.

Miguel Ángel is a cultural promoter and producer, graduated from the photojournalism career, founder of Encuentro Latino Community Art Center who for two decades has held massive cultural events in Mexico and the United States.

“In 2008 it was the first time I personified Frida through the Living Pictures. I take a painting of Frida and we try to represent it live so that it is exactly the same, with the same dress and stage, ”he explains.

Through living paintings, Karin revives Frida.

"At first I realized that it was not accurate, but little by little we have evolved to improve," he observes.

Karin Guerra recently appeared at the Silviha Villegas gallery in Los Angeles. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).

A living painting is a show that consists of recreating highly recognized works of art with very similar people and settings.

The day it is time to represent Frida, Karin says that since she wakes up she tries to get into the character. "I read about Frida because I like to feel when she entered the role, that she is here with me," he says.

“My husband is the one who pushes me the most to do things. Sometimes there is something that I don't like; and he tells me, if he looks, if it will work out well and motivates me, ”he observes.

This Guatemalan immigrant and her husband Miguel Ángel are parents of three Maya children, Diego and Luna. “The three like art a lot too. They have grown in this environment, ”he notes.

Karin can't hide her fascination with Frida. “I love that she was a strong woman. He had about 33 surgeries. I admire his strength and I like that crazy love that he had for Diego and that is seen in his paintings, ”he says.

Many people ask him why he likes Frida so much. “I loved it since I heard about it; and at the University we study his paintings a lot, ”he says.

Karin Guerra brings Frida Khalo's paintings to life. (Photo provided by Miguel Ángel Ríos)
Karin Guerra tries to faithfully personify Frida Khalo's self-portraits. (Photo courtesy of Miguel Ángel Ríos).

In the live paintings in which Kari plays Frida she is always accompanied by a musician and a narrator.

“In each presentation, we try to choose a different picture to have variety. I appear on the scene, but I don't speak because nobody has heard Frida's voice, but many people who knew her said she was very calm and liked to party, ”he explains.

The accompanying musician plays the songs Frida liked on her guitar like La Llorona and Cielito Lindo.

"The show can last between half an hour or up to an hour and a half," he says.

And he reveals that they usually make two presentations a month. “We perform in Los Angeles, but we have been to Las Vegas, San Francisco, Mexico and Guatemala. We have the ability to go where they invite us, ”he says.

In his presentations, Karin wears a costume created based on Frida's paintings. Not the ones Frida wore but the ones she painted in her portraits. So they are unique. The Guatemalan has been ordered to make the dresses of Frida's paintings, Tree of Hope, The Two Fridas, Necklace of Thorns, Frida returns, Diego in my thoughts, Frida and xoloizcuintle, Frida and my doll, Frida in velvet, Roots and others.

Why does a Guatemalan personify the Mexican Frida Khalo? … "Frida loved Guatemala very much," he says.

Karin Guerra feels a great responsibility in personifying the painter Frida Khalo. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion)

After several years of getting into Frida's skin, Karin says she is very satisfied.

“I do something so that people know more about this great artist. I feel a great responsibility with the public and with Frida to represent her as faithfully as possible. On stage, I like having that warmth with people. One is filled with that love. The children touch me or pull my dress. They want to see if I'm really Frida. They get excited and want to take pictures with me, ”she says excitedly.

He also adds that personifying Frida has allowed him to meet many people not only from the cultural environment but from other areas and learn from them.

If you want to know more about Karin Guerra's original work that is not done anywhere else or in Mexico, visit the Latino Art Gallery Facebook page, and especially El Cuarto Azul.

Karin Guerra poses next to her husband, the cultural promoter Miguel Ángel Ríos and the cultural promoter, Silviha Villegas. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).

Why do you think it is important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month?

“To teach part of our culture. I celebrate it always personifying a character with as much strength and love as Frida. As a Hispanic woman living in the United States, it is very important that children see that everything that one sets out is possible, ”he says.


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