College of DuPage announces rare Frida Kahlo exhibit coming in 2020

 
 
Updated 11/11/2018 8:29 AM
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  • A Celebration Cake made by College of DuPage students was part of the reception.

      A Celebration Cake made by College of DuPage students was part of the reception. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Guests enjoy a reception before the College of DuPage announces plans for a new Frida Kahlo art exhibition at the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn Saturday.

      Guests enjoy a reception before the College of DuPage announces plans for a new Frida Kahlo art exhibition at the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn Saturday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • College of DuPage President Ann E. Rondeau at a reception as the school announces plans for a new Frida Kahlo art exhibition at the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn Saturday.

      College of DuPage President Ann E. Rondeau at a reception as the school announces plans for a new Frida Kahlo art exhibition at the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn Saturday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

More than 40 years have passed since the works of cultural icon and famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo were on display in 1978 at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art.

But that clock will be reset in the summer of 2020 when an exhibition of the largest private collection of works by Kahlo arrives at Glen Ellyn's College of DuPage.

College officials announced the exclusive 26-piece exhibition at a Saturday reception at the college's Cleve Carney Art Gallery that featured a replica of one of Kahlo's most iconic dresses made by students, a cake specially designed by the college's culinary arts students and a performance by Aurora's Ballet Folkloric Quetzacoatl.

The collection, on loan from Mexico's Museo Dolores Olmededo in Xochimilco, features sketches and paintings spanning Kahlo's career and highlighting themes of identity, politics, sexuality and death.

Justin Witte, curator of the Cleve Carney Art Gallery, said despite her death 65 years ago, Kahlo remains relevant because so many can relate to how she dealt with issues of health, relationships and love.

"In 2020, this entire campus is going to be transformed. The gallery is going to have an expansion built specifically to house this exhibition. The lobby of the art center itself will be transformed into a historical exhibition that will outline Frida's story and her relevance," Witte said Saturday. "But the most amazing thing that is going to happen is that all of you, and thousands of other people are going to come to the College of DuPage and they're going to stand in front of Frida Kahlo's paintings and time is going to start to bend. And they're going to make that connection. And we are going to get to hear Frida Kahlo's amazing story, as told by Frida Kahlo."

In fact, Beth Marchetti, the executive director of the DuPage Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the exhibit, now in England before stopping in Milan on its way to Glen Ellyn, "has the potential to draw the world to our doorstep."

McAninch Arts Center Director Diana Martinez said the idea to land the exhibit was first presented to her about a year ago by one of the college's founding members Alan Peterson, who has a connection with Museo Delores Olmedo.

"It's great for the College of DuPage. It is incredible for DuPage County and it is wonderful for the great state of Illinois," Martinez said. "In today's world, any chance we have to celebrate diversity and cultural understanding is a gift. And Frida Kahlo, who is inspirational for her fearlessness, her perseverance, her tenacity and her talent, is the perfect ambassador."

The official exhibition opening is scheduled for June 2020, with a closing event scheduled for August 2020.

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