COVID-19 outbreak continues to raise eyebrows with postponement of Frida Kahlo exhibit at COD


Arist Jade Nava paints Frida with two hearts to show how fearlessly she dared to love. The Alcatraz lilies are stained red with blood symbolizing the pain Diego brought her (photo by Sophia Rodriguez)

Nicole Littlefield, Features Editor

Diana Martinez was all set to host the biggest art show of her career. She’d overseen the gallery expansion. She’d navigated the hassles of getting all the necessary approvals. She’d raised all the money. She chose the time and dates that wouldn’t interfere with the academic calendar. She was ready. But not for a virus pandemic.

As COVID-19 began to derail her carefully organized plans to bring the internationally famous works of Frida Kahlo to the College of DuPage, she found comfort and inspiration in the artist’s own words.

“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can,” Kahlo once said.

Martinez has been working with COD to showcase the Mexican painter. As one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Kahlo is known for her extraordinary painting style that shows her Mexican heritage and culture, along with the modern art trends of her time. The artist is recognized by her intricate clothing, beautiful jewelry, and flowered hairstyles. Due to Kahlo’s outspoken life, she remains an inspiration to many. Her artwork, politics and relationships were in opposition to society’s expectations and has drawn attention from audiences all around the globe.

Martinez was preparing to showcase the 26 original Frida paintings from the Dolores Olmedo Museum Collection with an immersive historical exhibit at COD. The paintings in a gallery showing the famous artworks along with the exhibit showcasing the events in Frida’s life that shaped her. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibition was postponed until next summer.

The College of DuPage is spending $3 million on construction and security to exhibit 19 Frida Kahlo paintings in Summer 2020.

The Frida Kahlo exhibit would bring paintings collectively worth over $100 million, the Courier has previously reported. Base security requirements were necessary to protect the art and bring the Cleve Carney Gallery up to museum level security standards. Beyond these initial security standards, Martinez proposed also expanding the physical gallery space. More space would not only allow for a better-quality Kahlo exhibition but also increase the possibility the gallery would host similar high-value exhibitions in the future.

“We are so lucky that the art is available,” said Martinez. “The Olmedo Museum worked with us to move some things around so we can have it [the artwork] at COD next summer!”

The exhibition will now take place from Jun. 5 – Sept. 6, 2021 and has been retitled to Frida Kahlo: Timeless.

While the Illinois stay-at-home order prevents schools from opening, Martinez is planning to host other Frida related events once the campus reopens to get students excited for the exhibit.

Martinez said, “Some events that we weren’t able to have yet, we’re moving. We hope to have another Frida Fest, to keep the momentum going. There’s an author, Celia Stahr, who wrote a book about Frida and it is coming out soon, we hope to have her. There’s a new movie coming out called Viva la Vida and we hope to have the premiere of that. There are a lot of new opportunities that have come forward!”

Although the pandemic caused many unfortunate setbacks to the exhibit, like Frida, Martinez is still persevering. The unseeable impacts of coronavirus has made Martinez even more excited to see the final outcome of the project.

For more information or to buy tickets you can go to