You may have seen them around. Voluptuous sculptures brushed with colourful strokes of paint embodying a powerful woman. Her name is Chichi® and she’s the muse of Serena Israel, a German Yu di Korsou who completely fell in love with the island 17 years ago. Serena started with the concept of Chichi back in 2008 when she was teaching arts and crafts workshops at Landhuis Bloemhof as a side-job. She has always been inspired by the exaggerated volume of protagonists in the works of Fernando Botero, Niki de Saint Phalle and others.
With this in mind, Serena created her first model of Chichi® with Papier–mâché. Her students liked the sculpture and Serena decided to place it at an art gallery. Here it was sold within a day. One request after another came in for the sculpture. As a mother of a young child with a full-time job, Serena found herself overwhelmed. But she was up for the challenge. As she studied sculpture casting in Berlin, she used her knowledge to create a mold for mass producing the plaster doll. But the sculptures needed color to reflect the beauty of the island. So she roamed Curaçao scouting the best local painters. And this is how Serena’s Art Factory was born. I visited Serena’s Art factory last week to see it for myself and had an interesting interview with the mother of Chichi®.
Made in Curacao
The name Chichi brought history into the product. In Curacao, Chichi is a special name given to the oldest sister who usually spends her life taking care of the rest of her brothers and sisters. She is a hard worker, good listener and a strong woman. As the first born, she takes responsibility and has the patience to run a family. Similarly, Serena wants to empower women and feels social responsibility towards the island of Curacao.
When you move to a sunny island, you can’t just spend all your time tanning on the beach. To be a good citizen, you have to embrace the culture, learn to speak the language and contribute to society, says Serena.
That’s why she makes sure her painters are well paid and well taken care off. Their opinions are extremely valuable to the business and influence designs. In fact, each painter has a unique number that identifies their work of art. The art gallery is well organised and professional. In line with Serena’s value of contributing to the economy, Chichi® is also completely made in Curacao. According to Serena, Chichi® is characterised by integrity. And this is what she tries to reflect in every part of her business.
Painting Chichi with Judith
I also had the chance to talk to Judith, one of the local painters at the shop. Having lived in the Netherlands for a long time, she came back to enjoy her retirement in Curacao. Judith gets her inspiration from what’s in her her closet, nature and her dance nights. Her designs are characterised by lots of colours and floral prints. If you want to check out her work, she’s lucky #7!
If you want to attend one of Serena’s workshops and want to brush up a Chichi® yourself, visit her website here.