Frida Larios, International Indigenous Design Network (INDIGO) Ambassador, designer and creator of a new pictographic language.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I think it is safe to say that I am a multi-tasker extraordinaire. I went to a private German School (odd thing I know, but it was only a block away from my parents house) in San Salvador where I was raised. My peers in school always remember me painting with a full set of large-format paper, brushes and temperas displayed on my desk while paying attention and participating in a lesson about heavy German, Bertolt Brecht-type literature–all at the same time. I was attracted to both: art and sports since I was a little girl. From five until fifteen I was a gymnast representing my country at international level. I then moved on to indoor volleyball where I was part of the national team for five years and finally settled with beach volleyball. From 1996 until 2003 me and my partner were reigning Central American champions traveling in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour across Europe and South America. Beach volleyball was my passion, but design was equally as inspiring and important to me, I had learned that since my school days, so I never ceased to do either. It wasn’t easy as it meant waking up at 5am every day for practice so that I could have a full day of study, while I was finishing college, or designing, while I was managing my design studio. Then in 2003 I moved to London to study a masters degree in communication design in one of the most prestigious design schools in the world: Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design sponsored by the government of El Salvador through a sister fullbright scholarship programme. I had already lived on and off in London and the west coast of England while I was completing a bachelors degree in Graphic Design at University College Falmouth.
2. What was the inspiration behind your New Mayan Language Art Project?
Being far away from my home country while living in London, but at the same time being so close to one of the mecca’s of contemporary art and culture brought me close to my own roots. Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design was two blocks away from the British Museum in Holborn, which holds the most beautiful carved lintels in the Maya world from the Yaxchilán site. Being in touch with both: thousands of years old and at the same time the most contemporary art expressions sparked the idea of reviving the dead Maya hieroglyphic language.
Your beautiful “Shannon+Knut=Fire” has found a great, new home in Chicago’s Gold Coast. The photo doesn’t do your work justice, but I assure you it looks fabulous. Like its creator, it is an inspiration. THANK YOU!
The Maya, like other Asian and Indian civilisations, were talented calligraphers who expressed their brush art through book writing and pottery. They used water-lily thrushes as pens, and bark-made paper on jaguar felt-bound books as media.
Shannon Kring Buset, an award-winning writer, cook, and producer, is the editor of Inlightenment: Nourishing the Sacred Within, an e-magazine for which she called me to design the logo and masthead. The meaningful articles are insights into real people’s experiences looking for a more soulful existence amidst an empty consumer-moved world.
A New Maya Language custom pictogram was designed. The K’IN hieroglyph was used as inspiration, and symbolises sun, flower, the colour yellow and the south cardinal point–the perfect meaning for a soul-seeking publication.
In the spirit of New Maya Language, I brought the ancient artistic expression to life in our modern world by using their traditional calligraphy. By utilising our hands to write instead of a computer keyboard we connect with our inner selves–from our head, through our heart, and onward to our hands.
You can subscribe to Inlightenment: Nourishing the Sacred Within here.
We love the pictogram at the top of our invite! Titled Shannon+Knut=Fire, it was designed especially for us by internationally acclaimed artist Frida Larios. Frida’s ongoing project, New Maya Language, has won her numerous awards and features in books published by such prestigious houses as Taschen.
Our pictogram, like her other work, reinterprets classic Maya symbols. Ours combines the elements of K’AK’, which means “fire,” CH’UL, symbolizing “holy, sacred, divine,” and WAY, representing a portal or ceremonial center (in our case Gaia at Hacienda San Lucas, where the ceremony took place).
The first step was to design the super natural portal standing at the top. It was a four-sided portal so that made it even more complex for the Maya-chortí local stone-carver to make. These were the set of technical drawings I gave him to have it delicately produced in locally sourced lime-stone – just like the type the ancestral Maya artists used. Shannon and Knut will be able to enjoy a wedding memoir that will last forever.
The second step, once the production methodology of the portal was established, was to define the size of the cake. I already had the “serpent” design in mind and drawn in Adobe Illustrator as I had done something similar in glass sugar and fondant for my own wedding. The serpent represents the vision and the connection of the human with their ancestral and celestial spirits, its skin shedding is a symbol of rebirth and renewal – perfect for this occasion where two souls to form a new and united one met.
New Maya Fire
The third was to have the twins, daughters of the Hacienda indigenous chef, do the “fire” in corn leaf (tusa) coloured in bright magenta.
It all had to perfectly integrate on the day of the wedding – stone, corn leaf, glass sugar and good flavour of course, and it did.
Shannon and Knut met in the Roatan Bay Islands but fell in love in Copán, Honduras, an archaeological site of the Maya civilisation which was the capital city of a major Classic period kingdom. Hacienda San Lucas is uniquely located overlooking this UNESCO World Heritage site and where this special couple’s love story and Maya sacred fire marriage ceremony took place.
I was honoured to be commissioned to design their wedding celebration look and feel including invitation, memento, menu, place name, thank you and cake design using my New Maya Language system. Tyler did an amasing job by photo documenting the time they, their friends and family, that came from different corners of the world, spent in Copán visiting the ruins and then celebrating their union through both a Christian and Maya ritual.
I leave you with the graphic and beyond (!) outcomes and a taster of Tyler’s fantastic pictures.