Did you know an orchid can live 100 years?! (No one told mine, who grace my kitchen for a few fleeting weeks, max.) And this - orchids are 100 million year old, collectively speaking; fossils spill that secret. I had no idea.
What I did know is that deep in the three mountains ranges of Colombia, hundreds of varieties run wild and free. So that when Maria Paulina visited a small village outside of her home in Medellín, finding there the Embera Chami community, as indigenous to the area as the orchids are, she was seized with a vision of working alongside these imaginative souls and with their ancestral techniques, creating beauty and livelihood. And so she began.
Of course, what they came to make . . . out of colorful beads and Maria's designs and the Embera's masterful beading techniques . . . are orchids.
Colombia exports 1.3 billion flowering plants each year, and though roses are the most popular around the world, it is the rarity of the orchid that makes it the national flower at home. Exotic, ancient, hidden, free, and determined to persevere . . . just like the people who are also indigenous to this place.
I meet Maria in Medellín and gasped to see what she and the Embera wonen had done. I thought you would want to know, and so. . . here, now, I'm so honored to present a cultural legacy moving forward. Cymbidium orchids putting vogue on your lobes.
Across town in Medellín, Ana Catalina Giraldo also goes to the mountains to collect orchid specimens, noting the date and time they were picked and the species, and returning to her studio to begin a long transforming process preserving them and capturing the uniqueness and imperfections of each blossom without a mold. The ones in gold you see here bear her creative imprint.
What I love even more than these artful orchids are the people behind them, the creativity exploding in each piece, (I have never seen anything like this before!), and the passion of moving forward the best of a place, a culture, a tradition.
I hope these traditions will live 100 years, or 100 million years, like the orchids they honor. The hand, the eye, the imagination, the freedom of form . . . and the women who craft of them a new voluptuous beauty . . . all. May you live on and on and on, treasures brought into the light.
All the best,
Susan Hull Walker