Celia Baldwin is a GreenSchool Educator at The New York Botanical Garden.
The Frida Kahlo exhibition that graced the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory from May until October offered visiting GreenSchool students an inspiring way to get inside the head of a wildly talented artist, and make some revealing connections—and art—of their own. As students entered the vivid Casa Azul and strolled alongside the shiny green Swiss cheese plants, smelled the sweet bougainvillea, and examined sunset-hued marigolds and sunflowers up close, they responded with smiles to the color, texture, and forms they noticed. When they saw the papaya-colored pyramid adorned with cacti and succulents, they looked closely, and tried not to touch. This was not some sleepy garden show their teachers were bringing them to, but something bold and fun and relatable.
On October 23, a group of students from Waldwick High School in New Jersey came to view the exhibition with Spanish teacher Vanessa Monell. Their goal was to immerse themselves in the living world of Frida Kahlo after being introduced to her life story in the weeks since school began in September. These high schoolers said they were drawn to Frida’s story of suffering and fortitude, of her strong need to define her life on her own terms and to find a way to communicate her emotional intensity through art.