Frida's Fragrance: Art, Scent, & Persona

None at The William Vale Hotel

Thu, Jul 25 at 7:30 p.m.   |   90 minutes

Art historian Jessica Murphy takes us into a world of Frida not often discussed - her choice of perfume. What can her selected scents reveal about the artist and her deliberate self presentation?

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), one of the most famous artists of the twentieth century, is celebrated for her groundbreaking self-portraits, her proud embodiment of her Mexican heritage, her political activism, and her persistence in the face of physical disability. She has been the subject of many books, exhibitions, documentaries, even a Hollywood film. Our knowledge of Kahlo as an artist and a woman is extensive. However, new sources of information were revealed in 2004, when the Museo Frida Kahlo opened two rooms of Kahlo’s home that had been sealed since her death. The contents of those rooms included previously unknown works of art, hundreds of photographs, personal papers, and personal possessions such as garments, jewelry, and cosmetics---material that recently has been featured in new publications and exhibitions.

The “rediscovery” of these intimate belongings---particularly her clothing---has expanded our understanding of Kahlo’s deliberate, meaningful self-presentation in her art and life. And if we can analyze Kahlo’s multi-layered identity through her choice of regional Mexican dress, for example, what can we say about her collection of perfumes? Similar to fashion, scent can be a form of self-expression, a means of shaping and sharing a persona.

In this “show and smell” Olio, we will sample five perfumes owned by Kahlo while viewing examples of her art. Hearing the back-story and cultural context of each perfume, we will draw analogies between the scent and Kahlo’s image. Can an olfactory exploration of Kahlo’s favorite fragrances further enhance our appreciation of this iconic artist?

Teacher: Jessica Murphy
Venue: The William Vale Hotel

What is Think Olio?


Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

Read more about our mission, our story, and how we are doing this.

Scenius Membership

If Friday night lectures, museum field trips, and living room salons sound like your kind of thing, then you've found your people. We can't wait to welcome you to the Think Olio Scenius. More info


Other Upcoming Olios


Seeing the Subconscious: Mindfulness, Psychology, and the Road to Healing Racism

Location: at Online

Teacher: Darryl Aiken-Afam & Robin Schlenger

June 7, 2020, 7 p.m.

Regulating Business in a Capitalist Society

Location: at Online

Teacher: Lawrence Cappello

June 9, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

Escape From The City

Location: at Online

Teacher: Ted Barrow

June 10, 2020, 8 p.m.

Progressives, Radicals & Well-Meaning Liberals

Location: at Online

Teacher: Angie Beeman

June 11, 2020, 8 p.m.

Press Start to Begin: A Survey & History of Video Game Music

Location: at Online

Teacher: Whitney George

June 12, 2020, 8 p.m.

Plato Goes East: The Republic and The Bhagavad Gita

Location: at Online

Teacher: Vishwa Adluri

June 14, 2020, noon

Socialism, A Day in the Life

Location: at Online

Teacher: Danny Katch

June 15, 2020, 8 p.m.

Government Action and Inaction in Response to Covid-19

Location: at Online

Teacher: Andres Bernal

June 19, 2020, 8 p.m.

Internet Omnipresence & Critical Thinking

Location: at Online

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

June 22, 2020, 8 p.m.

New Toys and New Tyrants: Capitalism and the Rise of Platform Economics

Location: at Online

Teacher: Rob Larson

June 30, 2020, 8 p.m.


Stay in Touch


Instagram Mailing List Contact

Get Involved


Liaisons Host an Olio

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.