Catrina (The Poppy) by Laura A.

This submission is based on the sugar skulls of the Mexican Dia De Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.

Humans have always had a fascination for death, but in Mexico, death is not something to be feared. The Day of the Dead is not a solemn occasion, but a celebration. People party instead of mourn, and remember the good times they shared with their lost loved ones. I find this a very interesting contrast with the generally morbid associations that people make with death. I have tried to show this contrast in my submission, because I have drawn inspiration for Catrina's facepaint from designs of Mexican sugar skulls. In this sense, she is supposed to be a skeleton, something that is dead, but she is not a horrific corpse, or something you would expect to see in a grave. Instead, she is beautiful, and she looks at peace. The flowers that crown her and the general vibrant colours used for her makeup and flower wreath also add a sense of life and cheer to something that is otherwise a representation of death, which again serves as interesting contrast. Following the Mexican theme for this doll, I designed a floral tattoo for her loosely based on Mexican embroidery, however the vines on her chest eventually form the bone that holds her ribs together and her spine is also tattooed in the form of embroidered leaves. This goes back to the general theme of the juxtaposition of life and death, of beauty and morbidity. I had also planned to give her bone-like, articulated fingers like that of a skeleton's instead of regular human fingers, to reinforce the idea of her not being alive.

Catrina's name is taken from the illustration "La Calavera Catrina", or "The Elegant Skull", by Jose Guadalupe Posada.

Hua Dan by Laura A.

This submission includes ideas for a way to paint ED faces, as well as that of a new headdress inspired by that of traditional Chinese opera costumes.

Although the general lacking of high-tech tools in my home has reduced my original drawing to a scanned, less vibrantly coloured version of itself, the headdress is supposed to be that of gold and silver, adorned with various gemstones like rubies, topaz and lapis lazuli. The gold "band" in particular is supposed to be of filigree design, surrounding the small rubies. On each side of her head are 3 peonies, which represent the freshness and beauty of her youth. Other accessories include dangling earrings. Her hairstyle and makeup are that of a typical Hua Dan. I find this kind of makeup very beautiful, because of how it is at once dramatic and extremely feminine, as well as the slightly otherworldly effect that the white and blended pink has in contrast with the harsh, black painted eyebrows and fringe.

The concept of my work is based on costumes for Beijing opera, with the girl I have drawn depicting the role of a Hua Dan specifically.

The Hua Dan is always the young female character of the opera, who is vibrant, innocent and pure, and because of this reason, combined with the general ornateness of costumes in Chinese opera, I feel that elements of Chinese opera are extremely suitable as inspiration for Enchanted Doll. Moreover, another reason why I chose to incorporate elements of Chinese opera into my submission is that to me, as a Chinese person, traditional opera is the epitome of culture and art. Everything, from the detailed, handmade costumes to the props used and the very setup of the stage structure requires great workmanship, and the tales told through the opera are also usually taken from history and have great cultural significance. I like the idea of the coming together of two art forms, the opera and Enchanted Doll, both exquisite and highly worthy of appreciation, hence the lovechild of an Chinese Opera Enchanted Doll.

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Copyright © 2011 Marina Bychkova.