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Frida Kahlo works at Glen Ellyn campus in summer 2020
2018-11-09

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Glen Ellyn, Ill. — College of DuPage ( COD ), in partnership with the McAninch Arts Center ( MAC ) and Cleve Carney Art Gallery, today expanded upon the plans to host the largest private collection of works by Frida Kahlo at the Cleve Carney Art Gallery and throughout the Glen Ellyn campus in summer 2020. The exhibition, entitled Frida Kahlo — Works from the Dolores Olmedo Collection, will be the most comprehensive presentation of Kahlo's work displayed in the Chicago area since 1978.

The 26-piece collection, on loan from the Museo Dolores Olmedo, features an array of oil paintings and works on paper spanning the life of Kahlo, a Mexican artist foundational to the 20th century art historical canon. Best known for self-portraits highlighting themes of identity, politics, sexuality and death, Kahlo channeled her childhood and personal struggles into her art and became an iconic figure and symbol of female empowerment, individual courage and Mexican pride. The exhibition includes pivotal pieces created throughout the artist's life, including 19 oil paintings, representing one eighth of the total number of Kahlo paintings in existence.

"The work in this collection maps the arc of Frida Kahlo's exceptional life and career," said Cleve Carney Art Gallery Director Justin Witte. "Frida Kahlo and her work were so interconnected that it is impossible to separate one from the other. That is also why her presence is still strongly felt in every piece in this exhibition. For exhibition visitors to have the opportunity to experience Kahlo's life and work in the intimate and unique setting of the Cleve Carney Art Gallery will be a once in a lifetime experience."

After surviving polio at age 6, Kahlo was involved in a horrific accident at the age of 18 when the bus she was riding on was struck by a street car, leaving a broken spinal column, among a myriad of other injuries. Bedridden for months, Kahlo was encouraged by her parents to take up painting to pass the time. A special easel was created that allowed her to paint while lying down. During these long days, Kahlo often spent long periods of time staring at her own image that was reflected in a mirror attached over her bed. It is here that she began using herself as the subject matter.

The immersive Frida Kahlo exhibit will transform the Cleve Carney Art Gallery, as well as the McAninch Arts Center Lobby and Belushi Performance Hall spaces, allowing guests to experience Kahlo's work and her continued influence.

"Frida was very much a person of the people and this intimate, educational showcase brings works never before seen in the Chicago area to DuPage County," said McAninch Arts Center Director Diana Martinez.

Frida Kahlo — Works from the Dolores Olmedo Collection includes numerous opportunities for educational and interpersonal engagement through activities and events in the areas of Fine Arts, Culinary Arts, Humanities and History to complement viewing of her revelatory artwork. In this spirit, the November 10 announcement included floral arrangements created by COD Horticulture students and inspired by Kahlo's garden; a replica of one of Kahlo's most iconic dresses, which appeared on the cover of Vogue, created by the COD Fashion Studies program; and a cake specially designed for the occasion by COD Culinary Arts students. Additionally, Ballet Folkloric Quetzacoatl of Aurora closed the event with a performance highlighting the rich culture of Mexico.

"Our goal through this exhibition is obviously to make this artwork accessible to the people, but we also want to build a community atmosphere around the works," Martinez said. "We've taken a good first step incorporating so many components in this official announcement, and we will build on that through partnerships with various College academic programs, local artists and community organizations in the months to come."

Upcoming events include:

Frida Fest, presented by the McAninch Arts Center, Saturday, September 14, 2019

Gala coming in 2019

Various lectures, workshops and other events during the Spring 2020 semester

First look for sponsors May 2020

Official exhibition opening June 2020

Closing event August 2020

Additional plans include a children's area at the exhibit and collaborations with various College of DuPage academic programs, which give people an opportunity to dive deeper into Frida Kahlo's story, Martinez said.

"We want patrons of the arts, students, faculty and community members to walk away from this one-of-a-kind experience with a clearer understanding not only of Frida's work, but also her life and the time in which she lived," she said.

The upcoming exhibition is made possible through the generous spirit of Milly and Alan Peterson, founding community members of College of DuPage and lifetime patrons of the McAninch Arts Center. Through their longtime friendship with the Carlos and Lupe Phillips family, the Petersons successfully cultivated bringing this unique experience to DuPage County and the greater Chicagoland area. Peterson shared, "Our longtime friends, the Carlos and Lupe Phillips family of Mexico City, have for many years toured their Frida Kahlo art collection all over the world. We had a big idea, why not build a bridge and bring their fantastic collection to the community and college we love. The College of DuPage and Phillips enthusiastically agreed, and we are grateful to have been able to help build another bridge."

About the Cleve Carney Art Gallery

The Cleve Carney Art Gallery, located on the campus of College of DuPage, adjacent to the McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd., offers year-round visual art exhibitions showcasing a variety of innovative art by regional, national and international artists. The gallery's goal is to encourage the growth and understanding of contemporary art through exhibitions and educational programming that cultivate a variety of perspectives, and its the vision is to be one of the best centers of contemporary art in the Chicago area. More information can be found at clevecarneygallery.org or by calling 630.942.3206.

The late Cleve Carney provided a significant legacy gift to establish the Cleve Carney Art Gallery, a one-story, 1,850-square-foot addition to the McAninch Arts Center. The gallery opened in February 2014 with its inaugural exhibition "Selections from Cleve Carney's Art Collection." Funding for the gallery is provided by the Cleve Carney Art Gallery Endowment Fund which supports vital programming including artist engagement opportunities for community members and students, gallery exhibitions, artist commissions, new acquisitions and other teaching and learning tools that foster cultural enrichment in our community. For more information, visit cod.edu/foundation.

About the MAC

The McAninch Arts Center ( MAC ) at College of DuPage is located 25 miles west of Chicago near I-88 and I-355. It houses three indoor performance spaces ( the 780-seat proscenium Belushi Performance Hall; the 236-seat soft-thrust Playhouse Theatre; and the versatile black box Studio Theatre ), the outdoor Lakeside Pavilion, the Cleve Carney Art Gallery and classrooms for the college's academic programming. The MAC has presented theater, music, dance and visual art to more than 1.5 million people since its opening in 1986 and typically welcomes more than 100,000 patrons from the greater Chicago area to more than 230 performances each season.

The mission of the MAC is to foster enlightened educational and performance opportunities, which encourage artistic expression, establish a lasting relationship between people and art, and enrich the cultural vitality of the community. Visit AtTheMAC.org or facebook.com/AtTheMAC for more information.

About the College of DuPage Foundation

Established as a 501( c ) 3 not-for-profit charitable organization in 1967, the College of DuPage Foundation raises monetary and in-kind gifts to increase access to education and to enhance cultural opportunities for the surrounding community. For more information about the College of DuPage Foundation, visit foundation.cod.edu or call 630.942.2462.


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