Artist Karina Puente Brings Papel Picado to Philadelphia at The Kimmel Center
The Philly based artist brought the Mexican tradition to adorn the lobby of Philadelphia’s Broadway.
Papel Picado is an elaborate and colorful paper decoration that dates back to prehispanic times in Mexico. This adornment was used by the Aztecs to make banners and flags during rituals for the gods of rain, at the beginning of the spring season.
The original papel picado was made out of mulberry and fig tree bark. But soon after the invasion of the Spanish, the “papel de china” or silk paper was introduced and adapted for the Christian religious ceremonies.
And since then, Papel Picado is a staple decoration for many celebrations in the Mexican culture. Each festivity has a specific color and decoration.
When the Kimmel Center curator called Karina Puente to ask if they could display her work, it was in immediate yes.
Puente is a California native, Philly based artist. She started drawing and painting in high school. Over time, her passion proved lucrative when she was able to pay her way through college by selling her art pieces. Now, the papel picado artist owns Karina Puente Arts International, a women-run studio that specializes in art installations and portraits.
“This studio came from the desire of creating a space that I want to live in,” said Puente.
When we asked her about what inspired her to do this and other papel picado installations, she talks about her great grandmother who was a seamstress. She also kept in touch with her great aunts throughout the whole process and cooked for her team with their recipes. This has inspired her to keep this tradition alive in many significant ways.
The display has been arranged to be at a 30-degree angle where the sun hits and leaves a beautiful reflection on the walls and the floor. The panels are hand-sewn at the top, hand-cut, washed and ironed.
Her purpose is that the visitors start “thinking about the limitlessness of looking up and the limitless possibilities of looking in.”
The display will be at the Kimmel Center Plaza and it is free to visit. The display sat along with the creations of Mexican designers Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena: life-sized colorful trompos that spin.
Karina Puente talked more in-depth about her work on October 3, 2019, in a program called Songs You Left Behind.
The Papel Picado installation has been a huge success and therefore the Kimmel Center has announced that the display will remain at the plaza throughout the holiday season until January 26, 2020.