On Friday the 16th I went to Serena’s Art Factory and discovered a piece of Curaçao’s culture. Here I learned about the history of the symbolic Chichi sculptures. Serena Israel is the owner of Serena Art Factory, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Chichi Curaçao in Papiamento is a nickname or title given to the eldest sister in the family. This older sister is responsible, decent, proper, vibrant, and a strong woman in the family.
Serena Art Factory
At 9 am I arrived at Serena’s Art Factory and immediately in the garden I can see several Chichi’s around. In different sizes, colors, and shapes such as the flying Chichi. I continued down the path and straight into the gift store, where dozens of Chichi are again in various shapes, sizes, and colors. There are even Chichi keychains, magnets, and wine stoppers. Once I was signed in, I went out into the gardens and to the tables where the workshop would be. On the table, with the paint, were amazing Chichi sculptures and around me in the garden. Sitting out there, surrounded by all this art, with the sun shining, and the cool breeze created a very relaxing and artistic atmosphere.
I noticed our group was composed of women, which fits with what Chichi represents, and the opportunity of empowerment Serena offers women. All 60 painters for Serena’s Art Factory are women, who through the sculptures can express their style and fashion on Curaçao.
Our workshop begins in the history of the factory, Serena’s personal history, the steps in the production, and how to paint the sculptures. We could see the molds used to create each Chichi, that takes 30-40 minutes for the plaster to harden before the Chichi is removed from the silicon and mold. There are molds for different Chichi models, for Bubu, for Cows or Baka, and Goat or Kabritu which is all done at the Art Factory. Once out of the molds, each sculpture is smoothed and sanded down to remove the edges from the mold. Then the sculptures are done and ready to be painted, either delivered to Serena’s painters or used for the Chichi workshops. There are seven different sculptures we could work with: small Chichi, small Chichi with child, flying Chichi, medium Chichi lying, medium Chichi sitting, medium Chichi with curls, and medium Bubu.