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Last week I told you about the Siempre Viva 2014 collection, and the magical story of the day we went to do the photo production with a model at Animita de Elías in Laguna Verde.
I also mentioned that it all started with an animite necklace that I had made for my father in 2013.

Today, before the Night of the Dead falls, I want to tell you about this iconic piece in my artistic jewelry career, made under the guidance of Art Historian Rolando Báez for the group exhibition Baroque persistence of the Association Joya Brava , to which I still belong.

Baroque art in Latin America

In this tutorial we study aspects of the Latin American Baroque movement through a mestizo sacred art and delve into how this has underground influenced our culture up to the present.

Baroque painting in Latin America had an evangelizing purpose. Beyond seeking to develop a technique, what was intended was to be able to transmit the sacred stories to the indigenous people who could not read. This led to the creation of a didactic art, where perspective and realism were not important, but rather the message. But the messages crossed in a new imaginary of worldviews.

The Virgin of the Hill (Potosí, Bolivia)

The most relevant example for me is the work "LA VIRGEN CERRO", by an unknown author, probably indigenous, where this syncretism between the Spanish and the indigenous is evident, which combines in a single image the Virgin, and the Pacha Mama, represented by the hill, as the same entity.

If we look at the picture we will see a complete story. It is about the coronation of the Virgin. Above is The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (the dove). We see a part of the earthly scene and a heavenly one, above the clouds. In front, the Kings of Spain and in the background, the Inca gods Sun and Moon, also witness this coronation. The Virgin, for her part, is a personification of an existing Hill in Potosí.

I had no idea what I would do with these observations until one day, by coincidence, I was at a presentation for a company that did animitas tours.
Pagan Animitas
Then I realized that the animitas are also a form of syncretism, between indigenous animism and the Catholic religion, and to this day, they continue to be built throughout the country, to commemorate a tragic death.

If we look at them in detail, we will see that they have many similarities with Latin American Baroque art. These small houses describe through disparate objects, the lives of those who died. They tell a story. Artificial flowers eternalize their validity in the memory of the living.

In the Andean culture it was believed that the soul was smaller than the body. Hence surely the size of these little houses that are built to help wandering souls, the product of a tragic death, to reach the next world.

Prayers and offerings are part of the ritual that accompanies them and keeps them alive. Although they are initially raised by family and friends, after a while they can become devotional milestones. Thus, when an animita grants favors, it is filled with gifts, it grows, it becomes successful, remembered and sanctified (in a pagan way). It doesn't matter who was dead in life. The only requirement to have an animita is to have died tragically and someone who is willing to raise it.
At that moment, everything made sense.
My dad had drowned in 1991, at the age of 39, while rescuing a drowning teenager.
My project would then be to build a jewel animita to remember it.

So I applied the logic of this baroque art, in the design of a jewel that would be full of symbolism that would speak of my father's life and the things that were important to him. In an archeology job, my mom and I dug up photos, letters, and various junk from the boxes, which would become my items.
My dad was a mathematician, and obsessively studied graph theory. He was always drawing dots and dashes on a napkin. He belonged to the Masonic lodge of Valparaíso. He was a chess player, an atheist, smiling, a lover of women, roses and wine. From all these elements, I then designed his animita.
At first I only had some elements sketched: The house and the flower garland. Instead of a cross, the house would have the chess king, and would be accompanied by several queens. The doors with curahuilla landscapes would wink at the curagüilla that he was, and would also carry a symbol of La Lodge, where I accompanied him several times at non-secret family celebrations.

My biggest difficulty was how to put together the necklace garland. I made a mockup and presented it at the table. I connected all the points with lines, like my dad did, and I connected the flowers using the idea of ​​the graph.

I transferred this mockup to plans with precise measurements, which I then used as a template. I cut out the flowers and then forged them to create the roses. I put together the graph that would connect all the flowers of the garland with copper straps. Some parts were patinated and others were left polished to create contrast.
Help me Daddy.

Little Animita for my father. Liver, cheerful, traveler, womanizer, Mason, mathematician, brilliant, gambler, bohemian, smiling, absent, accomplice, adorable and wretched. Drowned in a lagoon while saving the life of another.
Little Animita, to take you with me.
help me daddy

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