Maíz Flor Serpiente/Maize Flower Serpent for Smithsonian #LVMDayofDead Celebración

Anthrodesign, Art, El Salvador, Frida Larios, Graphic Design, Guatemala, Honduras, Indigenous, Indigo, Journey, PotencialPuro

Join us October 31, 2015 for the unveiling of Maíz Flor Serpiente/Maize Flower Serpent. Frida Larios and Manuel León from Indigenous Design Collective will show the final mural and talk about the creative process interpreting Macuilxochitzin.

Maíz Flor Serpiente/Maize Flower, a Smithsonian Latino Center commissioned digital piece from the Indigenous Design Collective. Work based on the 2015 Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum Day of the Dead Festival cultural identity character, Macuilxochitzin.


About Indigenous Design Collective and Maíz Flor Serpiente/Maize Flower Serpent

We are designers interpreting our cultural heritage through typo-graphy and art. Our collective aims to make Maya hieroglyphs and Indigenous art (not only Maya,) more accessible to the public, both children and adults, by applying them to different visual media.

We have chosen to illustrate the texture of a huipil to represent Macuilxochitzin; we find inspiring the fact that the art of backstrap weaving is still taught to the girls in Mesoamerica just as it was done with the princess back in the days.

“Every morning, you don your white huipil, iridescent embroidering on cotton, printed symbol of the plumed serpent, evolution. Black tresses floating in the air, tangling with the threads of the voice of Ehécatl, God of Wind.” Xanath Caraza, Weaver of Words.

In our iconographic process we first created a pattern based on the symbology of her name, Macuilxochitzin, which means: 5 Flower. The feathered serpent enters the composition as a vision embroidered on Macuilxochitzin’s huipil. When you look at the design in detail you will find that the feathers around the serpent are gracious maize leaves (“milpa”) and that the serpent’s scales also incorporate her flowers’ petals.

For more information on the Latino Virtual Museum Day of the Dead Real/Virtual Festival, visit Connect with the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum on Twitter and Instagram @Smithsonian_LVM


Reblogged from Smithsonian LVM:

Exploring Cultural Identity by Smithsonian #LVMDayofDead Celebración

Anthrodesign, Art, Design, El Salvador, Frida Larios, Graphic Design, Guatemala, Indigenous, Journey

“We have chosen to illustrate the texture of a huipil to represent Macuilxochitzin; we find inspiring the fact that the art of backstrap weaving is still taught to the girls in Mesoamerica just as it was done with the princess back in the days…”

Frida Larios & Manuel León, Indigenous Design Collective


Follow the creative process of Frida Larios and Manuel León, as they visually interpret our LVM Day of the Dead cultural figure, Macuilxochitzin. They would reveal their final piece during the  Dead Poets Virtual Reading & Open Mic Hosted by Mouthfeel Press. Join us this Saturday, Oct.31, 9:30 pm EST at the UTEP Second Life island-LVM Placita-Sin Fronteras Café.

For more information on the Latino Virtual Museum Day of the Dead Real/Virtual Festival, visit Connect with the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum on Twitter and Instagram  @Smithsonian_LVM


Reblog from Smithsonian LVM:



Anthrodesign, Children, Design, El Salvador, Graphic Design, New Maya Language, Washington DC



Milagros Reyes, a 13-year-old from Buck Lodge Middle School in Hyattsville, was fascinated when she learned about a “mini version” of Pompeii in El Salvador.

She had been creating a story using Mayan glyphs, which she learned from Frida Larios, an award-winning typographic artist from El Salvador

Larios works as an artist and ambassador for the International Indigenous Design Network. She collaborates with cultural institutions in El Salvador, as well as at the Salvadoran embassy in Washington, where she facilitates workshops that encourage young Salvadorans in the U.S. to embrace their native culture through art.

She brought this knowledge to campus Tuesday as a part of “Imaging Homeland and Belonging.” The event took place in Stamp Student Union’s Art and Learning Center.

The workshop attracted a large and diverse group of students.

For those of Latino/a heritage, and it provided an opportunity for them to reflect on [part of] their cultural roots and their idea of home.

For Frankie Jovel, a senior and a member of Lambda Theta Phi, a Latino fraternity on campus, this event helped him get closer to his Salvadoran heritage.

“This motivates me to look into my culture,” Jovel said. He was using the glyphs to write a sentence about corn tamales, which he said he loves to eat.

As an introduction to the event, Larios presented on Mayan culture and history, in which she discussed the meaning of the ancient glyphs and distributed a colorful guide that showed the various designs along with their English meanings.

“The Mayas were such thinkers. They are the ones who invented the number zero. They had a whole cosmology with constellations and stars. They domesticated corn and they invented chocolate. We owe a lot of things to the Maya. So we need to learn about them like we learn about the Greeks,” Rodríguez said.

Larios said she wants to show that Mayan glyphs are deeply rooted within people of Central American origin.

“We are genetically drawn to these forms due to the fact that the [Mesoamerican Indigenous] lived 2,000 years—maybe less—but the time we were colonized was even shorter. We belong to the region. We are natives. By exposing young people to the language, there is greater capacity for learning, because there’s empathy,” Larios said.

With the help of archaeological experts, Larios is working to [preserve] Mayan script. She is illustrating in bright, contemporary style that is immediately attractive.

One of her projects is a children’s book titled, The Village that was Buried by an Erupting Volcano, which she wrote and illustrated using Mayan glyphs. The book tells the story of an indigenous Mayan village in El Salvador preserved under volcanic ash for nearly 1,500 years.

Known as the Joya de Cerén Archaeological Park, this village is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“That’s my mission—to transmit cultural heritage in a ludic, interpretative manner, using design as a tool,” Larios said.

She also designed the uniforms that the Salvadoran team wore to the 2015 pan-American games in Toronto. The uniforms, which were inspired by traditional Salvadoran costumes, were white and blue and adorned with ancient Mayan symbols.

However, Larios says it isn’t easy to encourage people in El Salvador to wear traditional costumes.

“It was a challenge because of the lack of attachment to traditional costumes. It’s a stigma. It’s persecution against indigenous peoples because they represent the peasant class, the class that [historically started] upheavals,” Larios said.

Featured Photo Credit: Belqui Ríos, a senior family science major taking a course called “Great Themes of the Hispanic Literatures; Home, Homeland and Be/longings in U.S. Latina/o Texts.” For students like Ríos, the workshop provided an opportunity to reflect on their cultural roots and the idea of home. (Gabriela Martinez/For The Bloc)

Gabriela Martinez is a communications graduate assistant at the College of Arts and Humanities and may be reached at


Talk: Ancient glyphs inspiring new Maya design at the Smithsonian Latino Center

Anthrodesign, Art, El Salvador, Guatemala, Talk, Washington DC

Published by Hola Cultura, Washington, DC, June, 2015

A Maya-inspired design by Frida Larios. Photo by Oliver Garretson

A Maya-inspired design by Frida Larios. Photo by Tyler Orsburn

At the Smithsonian Latino Center recently, two designers decked out in colorful Central American outfits discussed how the ancient art of their Mayan ancestors influences their work; a design methodology that goes beyond  artistic endeavor.

Frida Larios, an ambassador for the International Design Network, is the creator of the New Maya Language; a multimedia design project. She is an author, lecturer, facilitator, typography consultant and educational product designer. Originally from El Salvador, she sported a contemporary tunic styled with modernized indigenous symbols at the May 28 talk.

Manuel León is a multimedia graphic designer originally from Chichicastenago, Guatemala. He is the owner of the design studio Potencial Puro and the art director and website designer for the United States Institute of Peace.León was dressed head-to-toe in traditional Maya clothing.

While the indigenous regalia looked a bit out of place in the conference room of the Center’s Southwest Washington D.C. office building, they had the full attention of the small audience of Smithsonian staffers and others who take special interest in Latino or indigenous cultures.

Larios and León are in the midst of creating a Maya design collective dedicated to Maya knowledge, symbolism, and preservation of their identity as indigenous people.

Their similar methodologies and values brought them together. They draw a deep influence from the Maya to inspire new art forms, while using ancient symbolism as a means to inspire people of Mayan descent to take an interest in their rich cultural heritage. They look to inspire others to take an interest in their heritage as Mayans and build a common understanding of its relevance. It’s a design methodology that could be used with other indigenous cultures to help people discover aspects of their identity in the same way it helped Larios delve more deeply into her identity as a Salvadorian, she said.

By reinterpreting ancient symbols they aim to breath new life into them. Larios said they envision their Maya design collective will “preserve our heritage and make it relevant to today’s citizens, using design as a bridge.”

In other words, design is the medium through which they connect the past and the present by adapting the Mayan visual language in a way that is understood in today’s world. These changes could be seen as the changes any language goes through over the course of time. Likewise, adaptation prevents Mayan hieroglyphics from becoming merely the subject material for history books.

For Larios, pictograms are stories. In some of her work she utilizes pictograms everyone knows, like a skull and crossbones. Then, integrates this common symbol into modern symbols to create a new idea—a new Maya language. These symbols are incorporated into her various mediums such as clothing, jewelry, and art prints.

Manuel León, Awakening Ocelote

Manuel León, Awakening Ocelote

For León, his work is much more than art; philosophy inspires the story behind his visual designs. He said the book “Ensueños Cosmovisión Del Maiz” by Daniel Matul is a particularly guiding aspect with regard to his philosophy. Of the designs he presented, an image of an ocelot with four points stands out; a traditional glyph of an ocelot reinterpreted in mid-yawn. León named this visual interpretation “Awakening Ocelot”.

When asked how their work is perceived by the natives and community, they agreed it was welcomed, particularly children thoroughly enjoy it. Despite the interest children show in their work, they noted that there is certain competition when it comes inspiring children to take an interest in their cultural heritage. This competition comes from pop-culture phenomena, such the booming superhero movie franchises.

What is known of the Maya glyphs is largely from Archeological study. Larios’ and León’s reinterpretations often begin from these archeological interpretations. The Spanish Conquest was a breaking point in Maya culture; their language and the related knowledge of hieroglyphs were lost. Larios and León are trying to construct a conceptual bridge between the past and the

“What you see here is not even the tip of the iceberg,” said Larios, referring to an entire lexicon of glyphs waiting to be integrated into a modern symbolism.

—Oliver Garretson

The evolution of #NewMayaLanguage, 2014 in blogging


Crunchy numbers

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

There were 20 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 16 MB. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was May 6th with 173 views. The most popular post that day was “Frida Larios: Businesswoman, Artisan, Preservationist” #NewMayaLanguage Feature Interview by Hat Trick Magazine, UK.

Posting Patterns

In 2014, there were 8 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 130 posts.

Attractions in 2014

These are the posts that got the most views in 2014. You can see all of the year’s most-viewed posts in your Site Stats.

Some of your most popular posts were written before 2014. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again.

Where did they come from?


That’s 101 countries in all!
Most visitors came from The United States. France & Mexico were not far behind.

Who were they?

Your most commented on post in 2014 was Children’s book: The Village that was Buried by an Erupting Volcano by @fridalarios

Celebrate #HispanicHeritageMonth with author @FridaLarios. Join us today at 2pm!

Anthrodesign, Archaeological Site, Book, Children, El Salvador, Joya de Cerén, Reading, Washington DC

Published on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 – 9:49am

Celebre el Mes de la Herencia Hispana con la autora Frida Larios
Frida Larios


Join us Saturday, Sept. 20 at 2 p.m. as author Frida Larios presents her book, The Village That Was Buried by an Erupting Volcano along with a workshop on the New Maya Language with the Green Child wooden puzzle.

Acompáñenos el sábado 20 de septiembre a las 2 p.m. donde la autora Frida Larios presentara su libro, La Aldea que fue Sepultada por un Volcán en Erupción, con un taller del Nuevo Lenguaje Maya.

Pietro’s Birthday Party by @MarianVidaurri

Anthropology, Journey, Women

Marian and KalPosting a little breather from the New Maya Language journey–a short and sweet piece by mother and friend, @MarianVidaurri. It cleverly shares a taster of the juggles and under-feelings of working and being a mother, being a mother and working.

My daughter will never forget Pietro’s birthday party at Chuck E Cheese’s, because she did not go to Pietro’s party at Chuck E Cheese’s. At 3:00 pm, as we were heading to the event that was due to start at 4:00 p.m., a glimpse into my Iphone’s calendar made my heart sink. The party started at 12:30 and ended at 2:30 p.m. “What a horrible, terrible mother I am”, was the first thought that crossed my mind. How could I have messed up so bad with my daughter’s very important engagement? Of course, after breaking the news to my little girl she instantly burst into tears, heartbroken by her mom’s very stupid mistake and mishandling of her multitasking-filled life.

Mommy guilt is a very powerful force, albeit a self-inflicted and highly noxious one. It is so powerful that it belittles my graduate degrees and multiple years of work experience in a second. As a working mom in the capital of one of the world’s superpowers, where politics and stress is the fun game of the day, I have realized two very important things about this “powerful force”. First, there is no such thing as “daddy guilt”. Here I am, a day after the “Pietro’s Party incident” and the thought of “I am not a good enough mom” because I disappointed my daughter still rambles inside, while my husband has seemingly moved on.

Secondly, I am certain that the mommy guilt feeling has a direct impact on self-confidence as a woman in general, but more specifically, as a professional. There has been much debate about how women cannot have it all, and that to at least have a shot at having it all we must aggressively incline forward. Much discussion has stemmed from, for example, Anne Marie Slaughter’s widely known article on The Atlantic and Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean On book. The fact of the matter is that the barriers for women to be successful in the workplace actually start at home. No, correction: The most critical glass ceiling is actually within ourselves. What is worse, we build it ourselves. It is the glass ceiling of guilt and self-doubt that has tremendous detrimental implications on our self-empowerment and future potential.

We must believe that we are good enough, and that we can have it all. Otherwise, we are doomed. Of course I feel bad I mixed up the time of the party. But everyone makes mistakes, men and women alike. It was wrong to think so low of myself after realizing I screwed up. I was even more wrong to start questioning whether or not the fact that I work, which means my head has yet another heavy ball to juggle, affects my quality as a mother. “Maybe I should not work to be more present, more concentrated on what is important in life”, I inevitably thought. But as everything in life, there is always a catch-22 and there are pros and cons.

Thing is, if I do not work, I do not feel as happy with myself. And that reflects right back and directly at home. If I work, I feel a degree of personal satisfaction that makes me be, well me. If my kids would have the choice to decide whether to have a mom who is often times bitter because she is not taking a shot at doing what she loves, and a mom who works and does what she loves and from time to time, unintentionally forgets perhaps that today was picture day or tag day at school, well, I guess they would go with the latter option. I am sure they would choose the scenario of a happier, good enough mom.

Like my daughter, I will never forget Pietro’s birthday party either, but for other good reasons. On one hand, I have learned a lesson and will for sure arrive to any kids’ party at the right time in the future. On the other, the incident made me realize that we all have a bandwidth. Mistakes are inevitable, and we will continue to make them as moms and professionals – and that is okay. Mommy guilt is our enemy and we should emphatically reject it. Being a good enough mom is good enough. And if we want to continue to make strides in this highly complex, competitive, and man-driven world, the first step is to break away from the glass ceilings we self-construct, sometimes unconsciously, on a daily basis. So to Pietro’s mom I say: thanks for inviting us to the party. Sorry we missed it this year, we will definitely be there in 2015.

Frida Larios — “The Village That Was Buried by an Erupting Volcano” #Boulder Book Store signing

Anthropology, Colorado, Design, El Salvador, Graphic Design, Joya de Ceren, Maya, New Maya Language

Start: 10/02/2014 6:30 pm

Frida Larios will speak about and sign her new book, The Village That Was Buried by an Erupting Volcano, on Thursday, October 2nd at *6:30pm*, Boulder Book Store.

Frida Larios will speak about and sign her new book, The Village That Was Buried by an Erupting Volcano, on Thursday, October 2nd at *6:30pm*.

Frida Larios will speak about and sign her new book, The Village That Was Buried by an Erupting Volcano, on Thursday, October 2nd at *6:30pm*.

About the Book:
The Village that was Buried by an Erupting Volcano, written in Spanish and English, is the real story about a community of Maya Indigenous peoples buried and preserved under volcanic ash for nearly 1500 years. This children’s picture book opens with a foreword by the site’s archaeologist, Dr. Payson Sheets from University of Colorado Boulder.

Vouchers to attend are $5 and are good for $5 off the author’s featured book or a purchase the day of the event. Vouchers can be purchased in advance, over the phone, or at the door. Readers Guild Members can reserve seats for any in-store event.

1107 Pearl St
Boulder, Colorado
United States

Event Image:

Frida Larios -- "The Village That Was Buried by an Erupting Volcano"

#WashingtonDC, Mount Pleasant Library Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with Author/Advocate #FridaLarios

Design, El Salvador, Frida Larios, Graphic Design, New Maya Language, Washington DC
District of Columbia Public Library is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a New Maya Language book reading and workshop:
Date: Saturday, September 20, 2014 – 2 p.m.

In observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, author Frida Larios will present workshop and reading that will facilitate children’s (ages 4-11) discovery and question the unique visual world of letters and Mayan mythology. The trilingual (English, Spanish and New Language [Visual] Maya) children’s book, The Village That Was Buried by an Erupting Volcano (children’s book) and the Green Child wooden puzzle are the tools of this workshop and educational experience. In the Children’s Room on the 2nd floor of the Mount Pleasant Library.

Front Cover

Front Cover

District of Columbia Mount Pleasant Public Library, invitation

District of Columbia Mount Pleasant Public Library, invitation

Story, first double page spread

Story, first double page spread

Foreword by Payson Sheets, PhD, UC Boulder Professor

Foreword by Payson Sheets, PhD, University of Colorado Boulder Professor

Frida, Maya Language and Joya de Cerén [English version]

Art, Design, Frida Larios, Graphic Design, Indigenous, Language, New Maya Language, Sustainable Design

Frida Larios’s murals at the Joya de Cerén Archaeological Park

Note: This article was originally published in Spanish on the blogs of El Faro newspaper in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Thank you, for translating to a wider audience./

Written by  Miguel Huezo Mixco

Ancestral heritage needs to reinvent itself, or die. Design, with its ability to synthesize and develop, interpret and create realities, is a powerful tool for representing and reviving our past. For these purposes, Frida Larios has created a “new Maya language.” The past is not a “sacred” place. The gods did not inspire the creators of the Temple of the Great Jaguar in Tikal, and the sculptors of the stelae at Copán. Neither artisans at Joya de Cerén. The “sacred” becomes untouchable and just an elected group possesses the power to change it. Such ideas produce arbitrary behavior.

The demolition of Fernando Llort’s mural, in 2011, was attempted to be justified by saying it contained signs outside the Catholic tradition, and the artist was accused of commercially promoting himself, as if that was sin. You have to be alert when there is pontification in the name of religion or science…

It is worth remembering these sad events, because now some sustain that the mural of Frida Larios in Joya de Ceren Archaeological Park in San Juan Ópico, El Salvador, is a kind of profanation to the spirit of the ancestors. Many of us do not think alike, and believe that the mural has given a new shine to that extraordinary place.

Because in El Salvador there has not been a constructive debate on the social uses of heritage, the idea prevails that the valuation of the past is an exclusive power of historians, archaeologists and restorers. But we must not forget that artists have a central role in this task. In this case, design in its many branches, is crucial so that more people appreciate and preserve their patrimonial heritage; as García Canclini says so that “the past has a future”.

The mural offers a version of the destruction of the ancient settlement of Joya de Ceren by a volcanic eruption, which occurred in the seventh century AC, with iconography sustained on the graph of the old village artisans. The enhancement of Joya de Ceren’s World Heritage, happens, among other reasons, for the need of the historian and archaeologist’s account to intersect and be combined with the artist’s.

El Salvador has a rich cultural heritage that is still undervalued and under enhanced. In part, because the matter has been addressed with a conservationist strategy. Cultural policy has a huge challenge to be linked conceptually to other networks, such as tourism, mass communication, entertainment, and with the social context of inequality and poverty that serves as a framework. This will open to us the possibilities offered by new languages, including art, so that the past matters to us, so that it becomes actual. (8/30/14)