Juana is from a small rural community in El Salvador. She learned how to make these dolls after she saw one that her daughter made in school. A year later she was making them for Mother’s day, Teacher’s day, and Quinceañeras. People began to commission dolls as presents for their mothers, girlfriends, and school parties. She started making them from plastic (called listón back home), and later she learned how to make them with crepe paper. It was a much more original, and cheaper, present than perfume or soap. People loved them, and she became famous for her dolls, as well as for her colorful flowers.
When her son Fernando was assassinated, she would make dolls and flowers to keep herself busy and feel better. “For a moment, my mind would clear and I would forget what had happened,” she said. Now in Minnesota, she is still making dolls and flowers. It reminds her of her daughters back in El Salvador, waiting to be reunited with her and the rest of the family here in the States. She wishes the gangs would one day disappear for good from El Salvador. Even though she is no longer living there, she feels bad for her people. “If I could change anything, I would go back in time to be with my son Fernando and have my family back together again,” she confided.
-This story was shared by Juana Nochez, part of Las Guerreras del Norte, a group of mural artists at Centro Tyrone Guzman in Minneapolis. Photo by Xavier Tavera, 2017.