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

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.

#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

Barack and Michelle Obama’s Thank You Card

Frida Larios, New Maya Language, San Francisco, Washington DC

When I got back to California from my summer trip to El Salvador and Honduras, I found a letter in my mailbox from the President of the United States of America. The diplomatic-like envelope was mixed between a stack of junk mail and Wells Fargo account statements.

Michelle Obama Thank You Card

It read—

To: Frida Larios Orsburn

From: The White House

There is a reason the Obamas sent me a letter. Last March I sent them a copy of my New Maya Language book because they made a political and cultural stop in my home country, El Salvador. They briefly visited the San Andrés Maya archaeological site, so I thought my book would allow them to appreciate in more depth the intelligence and beauty of the old – as well as my new – Maya writing system.

This is not a political propaganda post, but I have to recognise that I would’ve never gone through the effort of sending anything to any other US president, especially now that I am a US resident! I think of Barack Obama as the most social president the United States has ever had – despite his economic challenges.

Even when this country is in deep financial trouble, it is still perceived as an economic haven by so many illegal border-crossing Central American immigrants who risk their lives in the thousands everyday to reach U.S. American soil. There is an enormous rate of Salvadorean immigrants living in the United States (around two million are said to live legally and illegally in Los Angeles, CA alone), so it was about time a US president visited El Salvador for more than a couple of hours. The Census Bureau projects that by 2050, one-quarter of the population will be of Hispanic descent i.e. 100 million Latinos in the U.S. by 2050.

Illiteracy is a big problem not only in developing countries but also in developed countries like the United States of America. Hispanic immigrants and disadvantaged populations in the South account for the highest rates according to the Columbia University Press.The US government could use a 100% visual language to communicate with illiterate people. A system like the New Maya Language’s could be a start.

In the meantime, a thank you note from the most influential leader in the world and his wife, is a humble start to my dreams.