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)

#Mandela Poster Project

Africa, El Salvador, Graphic Design, Indigo, Language, New Maya Language, South Africa

Written by via the Design>Magazine Blog

New African Map, Charis Tsevis (Greece)

You are invited to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday and his life’s contribution to humanity by creating a poster or series of posters. The project aims to collect 95 exceptional posters from around the world and collate them into an online publication and traveling exhibition.


Emerging Underworld Serpent 3, Frida Larios, El Salvador/Honduras/USA

Project Background

  • All designers and artists are invited to celebrate the life of the globally beloved icon Nelson Mandela by creating a poster or series of posters . The collection will be launched on the occasion of his 95th birthday, 18 July 2013.
  • The project is not for gain and is coordinated by an independent team of volunteers. The poster collection and all proceeds that may arise from the project will be donated to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust to aid in the establishment of a dedicated children’s hospital in Johannesburg.

Hervé Matine, France

Project Goals

  • Celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life through a collection of posters.
  • Collect 95 exceptional posters from around the world in 60 days.
  • Contribute to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust.

Lehlogonolo Mokotedi, South Africa

Project Deadline
21 June 2013

Project Specifications
Print: A2, 300dpi in PDF format with no bleed

95 Rainbows, Steve Rayner, South Africa

Project Contributors
Participation is open to all

Booshan Belut, Mauritius

Project Scope
Web gallery
International travelling exhibition

Nkosikhona Ngcobo, South Africa

Project Schedule
14 June: Confirmation of participation
21 June: Poster submission deadline
27 June: Curating of works
18 July: Launch of online gallery
Dates and venues for the travelling exhibition are currently under development

Russell Kennedy, Australia

Comments & Observations

  • The Mandela legacy needs to be respected.
  • Please ensure that you respect all copyrights and secure permissions where required.
  • This is meant to be a tribute to a legendary man from us, the creative community.
  • You acknowledge that all works submitted is yours and you own all rights to it.
  • The facilitators of this project cannot take any responsibility for any copyright infringements or misrepresentations made by persons submitting work to this project. All work is accepted in good faith.
  • Contributors agree to donate their poster/s without charge to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust and allow the Trust to exhibit and reproduce copies as part of its fundraising programme. The Trust will respect the intellectual rights of all contributors/creators and will not sell copies of the artwork without written permission.

Humanity, Hon Bingwah, China

Project team

  • Mohammed Jogie (founder, co-curator and logistics lead)
  • Jacques Lange (co-curator, international liaison and exhibitions lead)
  • Marco Cannata (sponsorship lead)
  • Vuyo Lutseke (media & communications officer at Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust)
  • Kelo Kubu (legal lead)
  • Ithateng Mokgoro (branding lead)
  • Frances Frylinck (communications and social media)

Brenda Sanderson, Canada

Contact us
Jacques Lange,
Mohammed Jogie,
See more at

Wandisile Mokwebo, South Africa

Mohammed Jogie, South Africa

NUEVA VIDA #MAYA: Book, Paintings, Photo, Jewellery and Fashion Expo and Conference Opens Today

Art, Design, Fashion design, Frida Larios, Graphic Design, Guatemala, Jewellery Design, Language, Mexico, New Maya Language, Photography, Photojournalism, Sustainable Design, Tyler Orsburn


NEW MAYA LANGUAGE conference, book presentation, paintings, jewellery, and dress collection; and NEW MAYA LIFE wood-printed photography series in collaboration with my husband Tyler Orsburn, opens today at 18.30 at the Embassy of México in Guatemala.

La Embajada de México en Guatemala
tiene el gusto de invitarle a la inauguración
de la exposición y conferencia:


Libro, pintura, fotografía*, joyería y
textiles de la artista Frida Larios

Jueves 17 de enero del 2013
18.30 horas
Centro Cultural “Luis Cardoza y Aragón”
Embajada de México
*En colaboración con el fotoperiodista Tyler Orsburn
La muestra permanecerá abierta hasta el 22 de febrero
en horario de 9.00 a 17.00 horas de lunes a viernes

New Maya Life Exhibition Nov 26, 2012-Mar 3, 2013 Museo para la Identidad Nacional @fridalarios @tylerorsburn

Art, Copan, Design, Fashion design, Frida Larios, Graphic Design, Jewellery Design, Language, New Maya Language, Photography, Photojournalism, Tegucigalpa, Tyler Orsburn

Our first husband and wife collaboration: NEW MAYA LIFE [Nueva Vida Maya] photo, paintings and fashion exhibition, is being hosted by Museo para la Identidad Nacional from November 26, 2012 – March 3, 2013. NEW MAYA LIFE highlights the more than 2000-year-old indigenous Maya culture. Their contemporary art, craft and daily life is celebrated through our picto-graphic interpretations.

SCOPE Magazine publication: A world of icons, not alphabets

Art, Design, Frida Larios, Language, New Maya Language, Toronto

Via SCOPE Magazine in Toronto, Canada. Written by I. Garrick Mason

Frida Larios SCOPE Magazine

Reviving a dead language is not normally a recommended practice in communications: road signs in Latin (say, NON DEXTER VICISSIM instead of “No Right Turn”) are certain to cause more accidents than not, and billboards written in runic Old Norse will do little to increase sales and a great deal to confuse and annoy pedestrians.

Undaunted by such conventional advice, graphic designer Frida Larios has set about reviving and redesigning the pictographic language of the Maya civilization for use in the twenty-first century. Originally from El Salvador, Larios got her MA at the Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London, where she began her love affair with Mayan hieroglyphics in 2004. The “New Maya Language” that she developed is comprised of simple pictograms reworked and combined to communicate more complex concepts, and these images in turn are used in logos for Central American companies and in signage for regional historic sites.

Larios’s longer-run vision is not driven by the needs of institutions, however, but by the needs of people. She is acutely aware of the immense gap in the region between urbanized descendents of Spanish settlers and impoverished native communities in which modern-language literacy is all too rare. As she writes in a recent photo essay for the Indigo Design Network:

My ideal would be a world with no alphabetical words—where icons were the only language. This would help bridge the gap between illiteracy and emotional comprehension of a message. Some indigenous peoples who don’t know how to read or write the Spanish language nor their own heritage hieroglyphics’ codex, feel close to the New Maya Language pictograms because they don’t need to know the alphabet or numbers to understand it. It just comes to them naturally.

A 100% pictographic language bridges the gap between a once highly literate community now living extremely poor and undermined, and our modern era of over-information. In my vision, it is the answer to include minorities who are otherwise diminished by not being able to access the physical or digital world of information around them.

Intrigued? Larios publishes a gorgeous hand-bound book explaining the language and its components (it can be ordered here); to see more of her work visit her website. June 2011′s DESIGN> magazine also contains a fascinating essay by Larios about the project and the philosophy behind it.

My Husband Tyler Orsburn’s Dorothea Lange 2012 Award In The Gleaner Newspaper

Berkeley, Copan, Photography, Photojournalism, San Francisco, Tyler Orsburn
Tyler Orsburn Dorothea Lange 2012 Award in The Gleaner

Henderson native Tyler Orsburn is the winner of the 2012 Dorothea Lange Fellowship at the University of California Berkeley

Photography Prize
Former Gleaner photographer and Henderson native Tyler Orsburn was recently named the 2012 winner of the Dorothea Lange Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley.

The fellowship, in memory of one of the most outstanding photographers of the 20th century, encourages the use of photography in scholarly work of any discipline.

Orsburn, who was awarded $4,000, said he has one year to complete his project, which he said will take him to Honduras to document land reform among the Maya Ch’or’ti, an indigenous people near the Copan Ruinas.

For more:

You can read Tyler’s essay here.

Follow Tyler Orsburn on Twitter or Blogspot, or visit his website.

Announcing Conference, Book Presentation, and Solo Exhibition at the Embassy of Mexico in Guatemala

Art, Frida Larios, Guatemala, Language, Mexico, New Maya Language

Centro Cultural, Embajada de Mexico en Guatemala

His Excellency the Ambassador of México in Guatemala has confirmed a wonderful event to take place during January 2013, in which my full body of work will be exhibited, including: New Maya Language hand-painted pictographic poster series, jewellery, and dress collection.

The exhibition will be inaugurated with a keynote conference and presentation of my book–New Maya Language on Tuesday January 8, 2013 at the Centro Cultural de México ‘Luis Cardoza y Aragón’, Embassy of México in Guatemala.

This is the perfect celebration of the end of a 5,125 year cycle in the Maya Long Count calendar in 2012, and the beginning of a new one in 2013.

Ron James Canadian Comedian Praise

Art, Copan, Frida Larios, New Maya Language, Toronto

Ron James, TV-show host and writer, acquired two of my paintings: Planting Seeds and Crop Harvesting. He wrote a beautiful note on my guest book:

I’m taking a window on the Mayan soul back to Toronto thanks to you and your exemplary talent. What a corner of Paradise you capture with your work! Inspired, unique and accessible (not ‘democratic’. See I listen!)

Thank you –– Ron James

You can learn about his show and up-coming tour here.

My art in London – Family At Home

Frida Larios, Graphic Design, London, New Maya Language
La Familia en Londres

La Familia en Londres

Rhoda, her husband and little Zakar own two of my artworks: Family at Home (see image above), which is a New Maya Hieroglyph routed on sustainable forests’ teak wood; and Town on Fire, a tempera painting on 350gsm water colour paper.

The reason Rhoda wanted the Family at Home piece was because she and her family were moving to a new home in London, just as Zakar was about to be born. They wanted something that represented the family and blessed the new home.

I am delighted with her words about my New Maya Language art:

Here are some photos of the pieces – I really really love them. They are my pride and joy and everyone always looks at them when they come – they are not sure what to say but you can see they admire them! Then eventually they ask and I say who they are by and how lovely and unusual they are!

Dr. L. Rhoda Molife, Medical Oncologist and Principal Investigator in the Drug Development Unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital, United Kingdom