This is a one of a kind shadow box, or "nicho" with an original watercolor inside. This is one of my little forest creatures loving a mushroom. Their hugs make mushrooms grow and be edible. Unhugged mushrooms should not be eaten!
It will be a bittersweet day when I see this little guy go. He makes me so happy, the red tones are so rich they just pop off that gold background.
Nicho art originated as a popular adaptation of the Roman Catholic tradition of painting patron saints on wood or tin. Unlike the large, flat panels of retablo, nichos are small and built in shadow box style. Within the box there is a key object or central figure for whose honor or memory the nicho has been created. Nichos are usually painted with striking colors, often contrasting bright and dark, and tend towards garish. In addition to painted designs, nichos are decorated with all variety of images and objects from religious and popular culture, especially depictions of the Virgin Mary, or saints.
I love nicho art not only because it is in my heritage, but because there is something very personal about it.
I buy these tin shadow boxes bare, and I paint and decorate them specifically for the painting that will go inside. I use a lot of recycled/upcycled and found items such as silk saris, bullet casings, glass beads and jewelry findings (sometimes charms and sometimes bought in bulk as bits and pieces from old African and Afghan ceremonial dresses). Inside I place flowers I have collected and dried, stones and bits of driftwood or beach glass from Lake Michigan, and polished shells from India.
Each box is unique, and I can also make them to order.