Friday, August 23, 2013

Burning of all our worries away! Zozobra 2013

I am happy to share with you that I have several works that will be part of the Zozofest Art exhibit in Santa Fe. I will be sharing the various mediums I worked in to get ready for the exhibit. Read below for a Wikipedia definition of Zozobra the legend and the Fiesta.

Zozobra ("Old Man Gloom") is a giant marionette effigy that is built and burned every autumn during Fiestas de Santa Fe in Santa Fe, New Mexico, usually during the second week of September. As his name suggests, he embodies gloom; by burning him, people destroy the worries and troubles of the previous year in the flames. Anyone with gloom that they need to get rid of can come by the offices of the Santa Fe Reporter in the weeks leading up to the burn to drop off slips of paper with personal gloom written on them. Many people put legal papers in the gloom box as well. At the festival the papers from the gloom box are placed at Zozobra's feet to be burned alongside him.

Fiestas de Santa Fe has been held since 1712 to celebrate the Spanish retaking of the city in 1692 by Don Diego de Vargas from the Pueblo tribes who had occupied the city since the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The burning of Zozobra dates from 1924. William Howard Shuster, Jr. came up with the idea of creating the effigy, also called Old Man Gloom, and ritual burning. Zozobra means "anxiety" in Spanish. Shuster's idea was probably influenced by Mexican cartonería (papier-mâché sculpture), especially the effigies exploded during the burning of Judas that takes place on Holy Saturday or New Year's Eve, as a way of ridding oneself or one's community of evil.
Today in Santa Fe more than 50,000 people go to watch Zozobra, who stands fifty feet tall. His burning marks the start of three days of celebration that includes traditional mass at St. Francis Cathedral; a reenactment of the Entrada, when Don Diego de Vargas returned to the city; a Children's Pet Parade; and the Historical/Hysterical Parade. The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe builds Zozobra and burns the effigy at Fort Marcy Park. The Zozobra that was burned on September 7, 2007, was certified by Guinness World Records as the largest marionet the in the world, measuring 15.21 m (49.11 feet) in height. 

Today I share my version of Zozobra. I used found objects to create him. A trip to the thrift store provided me with the basics. First a happy smiling worn out Troll doll was the base. I covered it with clay and began the transformation from happy to worn with worry. 

Then the base was created out of an old lamp shade, wooden mug tree and can. Once assembled they were spray painted white for the base. Then I went to my sewing machine and made some clothes for the affair. For the skirt I gathered worries from several folks and hand stitched them into what was once a pair of sheer curtains. Once the "worries" covered the base of the skirt I added symbolic embroidery flames. 

Zozobra wearing his "worry" garment.
Hand sculpted doll with embroidery and hand stitched "worries" into the skirt.
(c) Sabrina Zarco 2013

Detail of skirt with embedded "worries"
(c) Sabrina Zarco 2013

Detail Zozobra doll (c) Sabrina Zarco 2013

Over the next few days as we lead up to the event I will share the art quilts and paper collage on wood. Hope you enjoy and get ready to release all your worries! 


  1. You are carrying on a worthy tradition in great style.

  2. Thanks Jay. Have to admit I thought of you and the community of faces you sculpt as I did the face. :-)

  3. Is this Zozobra for sale?

    1. Thank you! Yes he is for sale. Email me for more information