15 years of Chichi®

We were futured in the Dutch news paper, Antiliaans Dagblad:

Please find the translation below:

From one of our reporters Willemstad – Chichi is celebrating her fifteenth birthday soon and that will be celebrated. The official festivities begin on Friday, May 26 and the preparations for ‘Ban Selebrá Chichi’ are now in full swing.

Serena Israel, entrepreneur, artist, mold maker and ‘spiritual mother’ of Chichi and Serena’s Art Factory, started giving workshops at Landhuis Bloemhof in 2007, where she thought her students the art of paper mâché. This was also the moment that Chichi was ‘born’, at the time made of paper, chicken wire and glue.

Chichi’s forms were inspired by, a thirty thousand years ancient sculpture from oolite (rock, ed.), “the Venus of Willendorf’ and by artists like Botero. Israel decided eventually to go back to her original calling and started making molds for the Chichi sculptures. In this period Israel was forced to provide livelihood of herself and her family because the father of her daughter was seriously ill.

Antilliaans Dagblad asked Israel a few questions about this now third lustrum:
What can we expect in terms of celebration for this fifteenth anniversary?
“In the last weekend of May we have two events scheduled. One of them, on Friday, is for our partners, creatives and special chosen key figures from all sectors of our community. One of our values is co creation. That’s why we want make the most of our anniversary and we organize four ‘think tanks’ on our location at Serena’s Art Factory. In addition to the official program, there is the possibility to come together in smaller groups for four different subjects: wind, earth, fire and water.
On Sunday 28 May, the second event takes place in collaboration with ‘The Lifestyle Pop Up’. This partner is among others known for organizing the lifestyle pop-up event, the ‘Holiday Edition’, at Landhuis Vredenberg, but has also organized the market for Kaya Kaya. This event is open to the public from 10:00 in the morning until 4:00 pm and offers many different family-friendly activities. Several entrepreneurs will be offering a broad range of products during a market that day, there are workshops and the ‘Children’s Museum On the Go’ will present in an interactive and above all instructive way with art’s and crafts. Also there is a ‘petting zoo’ where people can get to know the animals that live in the yard of the factory and there is the possibility to work with the chichi painters to paint together to a chichi.”

You have an exciting professional life so far full of challenges. Would you change anything about it?
You are always wiser in hindsight, but things just had to happen this way. I wouldn’t do anything different. Nothing was planned and some things I would never have learned otherwise. I always tried to find solutions for the challenges that I had and I have faith in that the right possibilities always present themselves into live.”

You went to school to be a mold maker and art restorer become? Suppose you should choose a new profession, what would that be? 
“I would do the same thing over and over again. When I was sixteen years old I already knew what profession I wanted to practice. And I feel blessed that I can use my craftsmanship and empower people with it.”

What is the most special item you were allowed to work on?
“There are so many, how much time do you have? I’ve had the privilege of working on many special items over the past fifteen years. But if I really have to name one, it is the first bronze Chichi in collaboration with my friend Michèle Russel Capriles for the exhibition ‘A breast or two’ in 2008 in the Monart Gallery. I like projects with a social background that can have an impact on the community. This bronze edition is very special to the company, not only because of what it represents, but also because it was part of an exhibition that meant a lot to me. At the time I did not only have the one made of bronze, I also cast the chest of a very dear friend for this exhibition, it was a very beautiful and emotional process.”

You have many people around you who support, inspire and advise you. We know that Michael Anthony, your husband and soul mate, passed away not long ago. He was also your advisor. What would he say to you about this achievement?
“That he would love me even without success and he would bring me flowers as he did every day.”

Finally, what are your plans for the coming years, do you have any intentions that you want to share with us?
“Yes, we have entered a new phase at Serena’s Art Factory in Sta. Catharina, we are developing the backyard to accommodate entrepreneurs, creatives and all people who need an inspiring place. We want to bring together animals, agriculture and entrepreneurship in a natural environment in a sustainable way. This year we already started with the complete electricity supply for the company using solar energy.”