Pink Ribbon for the National Museum of Mexican Art

3 Oct

Every day is an adventure. And when you love what you do, your work becomes part of the adventure.

Back in August, I was contacted by a programmer from the National Museum of Mexican Art.  She asked if I’d be interested in making some HOPE banners for an ofrenda they were working on for their Dia de Los Muertos exhibition. She was working with a community group of women in Mexico that wanted to make an altar for Breast Cancer victims, specifically the mother of one of their members.

Originally, I made these little HOPE banners for my Grandma Bessie. She is a breast cancer survivor of 5+ years. She is one tough cookie!

More after the click-through…

Luckily, I had photos of this simple banner handy & I sent them off to the museum. I let her know that this cause is close to my heart & family, too. In addition to a HOPE banner and an ESPERANZA banner, I also suggested commissioning a much larger central piece for their altar of the pink ribbon. I crossed my fingers and hoped that she would take me up on it. And, wonder of wonders, she did!

Once we had all the details worked out, I had about a month to get them done. My previously planned summer trip cut about 3 weeks out of my production time, yikes! So that left me a week to get back into town, cut the smaller banners, and design and cut the 3’x4′ central panel. Not to be overlooked was the fact that I haven’t made a banner that big before. I was very excited for the chance to stretch my wings. That, and I really wanted to do right by the ladies of the community center.

I worked up a background grid pattern one night, printed it, and filled in the details by hand the next morning. I kept it simple to stay true to her original concept. Here is a work-in-progress shot of the large panel. It’s at my home studio:

I used stones to hold the paper down on the table and to prevent shifting of the layers. The paper was 7 layers thick because I cut the template & 6 sheets of tissue paper at once. It is better to cut the paper in stacks because it gives the blade something to bite into and leaves less opportunity for it to slip or tear the tissue.

I considered cutting in the small details you see drawn in the ribbon area, but I soon realized I wouldn’t have time.

About 60 hours of cutting went into creating the larger panel. Here is the finished piece just before it was shipped off (those are my hubby’s hands):

The lettering on the bottom says, “Dios bendiga las mujeres” 2011 Yreina Ortiz

The exhibit runs through December.

I was quite surprised when the local paper picked up the ‘story‘ of this piece. My grandma was pleased. All in all, so am I.

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4 Responses to “Pink Ribbon for the National Museum of Mexican Art”

  1. Brenda January 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    This is a stunning piece. I was browsing your work on Etsy today, getting ready for my wedding, and clicked through to your website and found this post. My grandmother also had breast cancer, and a year and a half later her daughter (my aunt) was diagnosed with it as well. My familia is cuban but I grew up in Mexico and as soon as I saw your work I had it book marked for future purchase. Now I get to share an important part of my background and inspiration as an artist with my husband and his familia. Thank you so much for sharing your gift.

    • Ay Mujer shop January 16, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

      Sorry Brenda- I don’t know how I missed your comment until now. Thank you for sharing that. It’s amazing how many families have been effected by breast cancer. The pink ribbon is everywhere. And, while it is a powerful universal symbol now, it is important to remember and honor the individual women who have fought to live through this cancer. It’s good to connect and I’m glad that this piece brought your grandmother and aunt to your mind.

      Congratulations on your upcoming marriage!

  2. El Stitch y Bitch (Thelma) December 31, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    Beautiful work! I saw this piece at the NMMA when is was up and I was truly amazed (our group has show twice at the NMMA’s Muertos show). Over the last couple of years I have been fascinated with papel picado and continue to experiment with it. So far I only know how to do the folded kind, but am starting to try cutting it flat for a Fun-A-Day project this January. While doing research I came across your blog (I’m already a fan of your store). Just have to say thanks for sharing your work and the great tips! If you’re ever in Chicago, please look us up!

    • Ay Mujer shop January 3, 2013 at 10:19 am #

      Thanks so much, Thelma! I loved participating in this event. Wish I could have seen it in person. I would definitely do it again.

      I’m glad you found the papel picado-making tips helpful! It’s a beautiful and challenging skill to create in this delicate medium. Keep in touch! You are doing great things 🙂

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