On the east side, you can virtually transport yourself into another world – a place where creativity knows no bounds, and a free spirit is always a plus! Set amidst the shady trees and relaxing tropical landscape, Serena’s Art Factory is home to the famous Chichi®statues. “Chichi” is the local Papiamento name for “big sister” and her statue has emerged as a symbolic character that embodies the woman who brings about a sense of community wherever she goes, and empowers others throughout the world. Colorful and playful, she represents the voluptuous and endearing spirit of a Caribbean woman. 

As Serena Israel Anthony, creator of the Chichi statue explains, “Chichiis more than a work of art, she is a concept.” Serena helps to empower women in the local community by offering supplemental employment programs where they can learn to express their creativity through painting Chichi sculpturesin their free time. Serena herself has become a “big sister” to women in the community and has brought the concept to life. Recognizing the power of art as a method of therapy and relaxation, Serena has employed over 65 people in the program. Purchasing a Chichi not only supports the local community but also gives a platform for their creative voices.

Spend some lovely time at the factory to see how these statues are made, and even participate in an inspiring workshop that allows you to paint your own personal Chichi sculptures. See if you can reveal the healing heart of Curaçao, a perfect heart discovered in the mold at the bottom of each Chichi statue. With all different sizes ranging from the tiny keychain dolls to the larger-than-life “Super-mama” sculpture that towers over 2m tall, you can see colorful Chichisin all their splendor in the giftshop displayed in creative outfits that portray different themes. While you’re exploring the factory, your children can explore their own creativity in the kids’ corner and music area!

Acknowledging that men are also an important part of the community, Serena has introduced Bubu® which is the local word for “big brother”. She has recently introduced a “Second Chance” program teaching prisoners how to paint Chichi®and Bubu statues. To add to the Chichifamily, Serena created Yuchi®, meaning “baby”, and Chochi®, meaning “dog”. A portion of the proceeds of Chochi sales are donated to animal rescue organizations on the island.

You can also visit the art alley on Windstraat in Punda. Chichi® Punda is a groovy gallery owned by Serena Israel. With a robust Chichi at the entrance, dolls painted in vibrant colors are striking souvenirs. Artist enthusiasts can paint their own Chichi sculptures on Thursday evenings. 

by Helen Griffith