Cheeky, Colorful Chichi - A Curacao Original

You might have noticed buxom and ample-bottomed figurines decorated in eye-popping colors in many different sizes and styles all around the island lately. They are called Chichis® and they have taken Curacao by storm in the past few years.

These unique works are the brainchild of Serena Janet Israel, an expat German turned local Curacao artist. She enlightens us about what inspired her to create these perky plaster sculptures.

“Chi Chi means big sister in the local language of Papiamentu, and it also represents a native Caribbean woman who is smart, strong, caring, happy and a kind and welcoming soul. I wanted to create a figurine that embodied those qualities and embraced the warm welcome I have also received on this island,” she says," but just like people, I wanted them to have their own personalities. So I hired and trained local artists to paint them from their own inspirations. We began small, with a few local women, and now we have over 50 female painters, which gives local women a wonderful creative outlet and also extra income! And we are still growing!”

The artisan factory has also made customized Chichis® for many local businesses and local organizations – some massively large like outdoor art sculptures, and others as small as an egg cup that reflect a specific theme. And they sometimes present visiting celebrities like Bruno Mars who was performing on island, with their own personal replica Chichi® fashioned to look like them. Very special.
One of the highlights of the Chichi® model is that visitors and locals alike are invited to create their very own version at Serena’s Art Factory for an excellent keepsake, gift, or souvenir. The themes for painting them are as limitless as your imagination, and you can receive expert help on site from the artists as well. “Paint Your Own Chichi® Walk-in Workshops” are organized on a regular basis, and great for groups, but you can also go solo if you check their website for dates and just show up.

To see how Chichi® is made, see this video documentary on YouTube.

But if you’d rather just own your own pre-made Chichi®, there are many places to purchase them like Gomez Plein, Rif Fort, Willemstad, Jan Thiel Beach, and Mambo Beach, with more shops carrying them every day. And the most recent addition to the offering is the male  counterpart - a heavyset jolly fellow named large “Bubu” who looks like he’s ready to take you dancing! Bubu is the perfect companion for the female character. So what’s next? Maybe a child? Why not? This art line is so popular that it definitely has room to grow into an entire family!

And if you visit the new Sambil Mall there's a massive Chichi® mural where you can pose for cool souvenir photos with her.

But, remember, you can only get them on Curacao! So, don’t go home without one!

For more about this charming island original visit Chichi® Curacao.