This is an extract and published spreads’ gallery of lead article in DESIGN MAGAZINE No. 19.
I tried to preserve the ancestral artists’ spirit at the time of creation, highlighting, and not merely reproducing their strokes. Aptly, renowned Harvard Peabody Museum’s epigrapher Alexandre Tokovinine describes my work with these words:
“Even though there has been a growing body of scholarly works devoted to the subject of Maya calligraphy, few artists systematically sought their inspiration in Maya letters beyond mere reproduction of certain glyphs and glyphic patterns, usually in the context of contemporary indigenous art. Frida’s project stands apart as an attempt to explore and reinvent Maya calligraphy as a symbolic and aesthetic system from an artist’s viewpoint. The New Maya Language creates its own world that blends Maya imagery and symbolism with Frida’s unique vision in a series of artworks which would make an ancient calligrapher proud.”
To read full article click here.
As published on AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) XCD: Center for Cross-Cultural design.
Photography by Tyler Orsburn
Fashion and Design Entrepreneur Frida Larios shares how her Mayan-inspired designs are taking new shapes and forms
New Maya Language
The Maya was a civilisation of indigenous natives that populated Central America from around 1500 BC. They are credited with inventing the concept of the number zero and their calendar measurements are the most accurate in the history of the civilised world. They created and used one of the most beautiful and intelligent logographic languages, still quite unknown to western hemispheres. The Maya scribes had a very privileged position in the socio-political system and were multi-talented – they were artists, sculptors, and calligraphers, and were also believed to be astronomers, mathematicians, historians and royal book keepers.
The project started by developing narrative pictograms for ‘Joya de Cerén’, an UNESCO World Heritage Archaeological Site in El Salvador in Central America. This was Frida’s Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design master’s thesis case study in 2004 and is still evolving to date. The archaeological site was apt because it was about common citizen’s way of living, about their eating habits, social relations, architecture and agriculture — very unlike the majestic religious temples usually found in the Mesoamerican region. The Maya written language was not really accessible to the non-elite population, a problem that still persists in our modern times. It is really a dead language only readable by a few in the academic world. The system is a universal visual language, which can also help surpass literacy disadvantages – specially in the developing world – while at the same time enhance users experience and learning in public locations or through a toy, or simply be appreciated as an art form.
A Democratic womenswear line
The new design-oriented, 100% handcrafted fashion line features New Maya Language pictographs, allowing you to wear a story: the metaphoric language and history of the Maya as interpreted by Frida.
The concept behind this one-of-a-kind collection is planting and harvesting seeds, building a home with your own hands, and nourishing yourself and your family through eating beans on self-made ceramic vessels. Salvadorean women have lovingly hand-sewn and patched the garments to give them unique dimensions and colour.
The use of silk, silk satin, cotton, linen, and denim allow the clothes to wrap and flow on the body with ease. The earth-toned colours and modern lines marry Mayan traditions with present-day sophistication.
Frida Larios hails from Copan, Honduras. She has at taught the London College of Fashion and Camberwell College of Arts in London, and currently works with her husband to produce culturally inclusive integrated photo-design projects. In 2009, three of her New Maya pictograms earned a honourable mention in the AIGA Cross-Cultural Design competition. In 2005, she was the only Latin American to have won the Sign Design Award, and in 1999, she was nominated to Beatrice L. Warde Award by the ISTD for excellence in typographic research in England. Recently, she was selected to take part in ‘Beijing Typography ‘09′ in Beijing, China. Check out a video excerpt of Explode La Mode, Frida’s fashion show in the Mission district, San Francisco.
Sharing an extract and video by House of Villains – Fashion Blog, San Francisco:
Full article here: Explode La Mode: April 30th 2011
We had the pleasure of speaking with Frida Larios backstage in the dressing room. We were really excited to speak to her about the concept she applied to her garments. Frida has a long educational list, she has B.A from University of College Falmouth, a Masters from Central Saint Martins in Communication Design and she has been an instructor at London College of Fashion and Camberwell College of Arts. Her core discipline is graphic arts but she has effectively translated her new Mayan Cuneiform into exaggerated t-shirts. Frida designs her fabric cut outs on illustrator and has them cut out by laser. Her Italian trained seamstress sews everything together to create her new collection. She uses mostly cotton and silk dupioni and we thought the graphics and fabric cut out design were marvelous. She chose specific Mayan glyphs for each of her pieces but she added her little twist and changed the way the glyphs are seen. She did an amazing job translating her concept into pieces….the collection was unique and the use of the Mayan cuneiform for her inspiration was executed very well.