Archive | feminism + human rights.

Because people rule.

Hide a Hat and Fight Back Interview!

I found out about Catherine Hicks’ Hide a Hat and Fight Back over on Instagram via the #craftivism hashtag. If you have craftivism projects, please hashtag them so I can find them more easily!

Next week I’ll be sharing Gather’s “You Belong Here” project, which is needed now more than ever. They’re accepting signs until next week, so get to it!

You can also read more about what Catherine has to say about the project over on Medium.

 

1. What is your definition of craftivism?

Craftivism is the call for social change through what are considered typical women’s mediums.  Craftivism helps craftivists by providing a purposeful outlet for creative energies, which can be directed to increase awareness and encourage social and/or political change.

My Art Practice is primarily engaged in Hand Embroidery, and I saw a call last year asking for embroidered squares which were to be sewn together and held in front of the US Supreme Court in conjunction with the Court’s Ruling regarding the closing of Planned Parenthood Clinics in Texas. The project was spearheaded by Nguyen Chi (IG @whatchidid, whatchidid.com/) who was organizing in collaboration with TAC Brooklyn).  As a Texan, I was embarrassed and angry about my State’s Policy, so I felt like I had to participate.  So, I made a square (the embroidered hash marks represent Texas women who would lose health services)

What a thrill it was to see my contribution held up in front of the Court!

While working on my square, I did what I always do when starting a new project: I asked YouTube and Netflix to tell me everything that they knew about the subject.  I looked at many wonderful clips of videos and documentaries, and learned about the craftivist movement – I learned about Sarah Corbett (of the Craftivist Collective), and followed her internet rabbit trail, which led me to think about issues of social justice.

Because I had done a lot of research on the planned parenthood rulings, I looked up other issues affecting Texas women.  I was already particularly concerned about the open carry law, which had just been enacted in Texas.  I looked up some gun statistics in the state, and to my shock, I learned that (on average) just under one woman is killed by a domestic partner every day in the Lone Star State.  Not all of those deaths are by gunshot, but many women are killed simply because there is easy access to a gun in the house.   The enacting of the Open Carry Legislation was likely to exacerbate this situation.  (No Stats yet.)

I conceived and began embroidering the BLOWN AWAY project, hoping that I could get a solo show that would viscerally demonstrate what 277 (2013 statistics) dead women looked like.  The project was to be made up of a series of interconnected panels (in the manner of the Bayeux Tapestry) that viewers could walk past and think about the mothers, sisters, daughters and grandmothers lost in a single year.

(The photos above are of an individual dress [representing one victim] and a series of panels [representing one month of women murdered  in Texas.)

 The project was not accepted anywhere.

 So I have dabbled a bit in craftivism; I guess I engage when I get mad enough about something and I don’t feel like any one is listening (a common complaint with our utterly deaf Texas politicians). Even if I haven’t concretely accomplished anything in participating in any craftivist act, I feel better, because at least I am doing something!

 

 

2. What is Hide a Hat and Fight Back?

I was very excited about the Women’s March on Washington, and thrilled when I learned that there would be a march in nearby Austin, as well. Scrolling through social media to find more information, I happened upon a call for the Pussyhat Project, asking for hats to be made for Washington marchers. 

Yarn was immediately purchased.  The furious clacking on knitting needles every evening (as my husband and I both ate through miles of pink yarn) got us through the next few weeks, and we found that the knitting relaxed us and gave us a tangible sense of purpose. 

I got the idea for the Hide a Hat and Fight Back project when we got home on that Saturday night and there was nothing craftivist left to knit.  My hands were itching for something useful to do, and I figured that there were other knitters staring at empty needles just like me.  In times of trouble my Auntie Ro always said “The cure for anxiety is action!,” so I created an excuse for craftivists to keep knitting as a way of relieving political anxiety.

The tiny hat project in a nutshell:

(couldn’t help myself!)

Craftivists are asked to knit, crochet, sew, glue, etc. tiny (fingertip sized ) pink pussy hats.  Once completed, the hats will be attached to a printed or hand written card, and the craftivists will document them on social media, then “hide” the cards wherever they want – in a dressing or ladies room, on a public bulletin board, in a taxi or on a bus seat, etc.  Of course, they can also be given directly, or mailed to a legislator, or whatever method of distribution the maker favors.  

The cards will invite finders to post their finds on social media, and will encourage continued political engagement.  Finders will be encouraged to join the movement when they post.

 


3. Why hide them?

Living in a rural community in Texas, everyone almost always assumes I am a conservative.  I’m a Lutheran.  I sing in my church choir. My kids got good grades, so people make assumptions, thinking that I believe what they believe.  Of course I have liberal friends, but we lone star liberal ladies have learned that it is not a good idea to get in a shouting match in an open carry state.  We keep a low profile.  I know the liberals in my own circle, but I don’t know who the hidden liberals are. 

The march sort of changed that.  I was with 50,000 proudly progressive women, men and children, and we were in the middle of Texas!  I finally found my tribe, and it was thrilling! I had never been in a room with more than 50 Democrats, and, while marching with so many,  I have never had such an overwhelming experience of community. 

As I was conceiving what the project would be, I knew that it should reach out to my fellow progressives, particularly those living in deep red states.  I wanted to remind them (after the news of the march dies down and the hard work begins) that they are NOT alone, and we stand and resist together.  I wanted to give them the thrill of community I felt in Austin.  But unless I personally know them,  I don’t have any way to do that in an open way where I live.  I took a huge risk just putting up my Hillary yard sign, and I learned to quickly take off or hide my Hillary pin when going into certain restaurants or when running into one of my husband’s clients.  The project was my way to keep reminding progressives that, even though we are a shy people, there are a lot of us!

I am acutely aware that Trumpians will likely be offended to find the hats and may be unpleasant in their responses.  Inviting that negative energy into my life gave me pause to almost abandon the project, but then I thought it through:  If you go through life extremely confident that everyone around you thinks in exactly the same way that you do, it would certainly get your attention if you suddenly and unexpectedly encountered physical evidence that they do not.  A few encounters might be easy to dismiss, but what if you saw a dozen or dozens or even one hundred of these things?  Your unshakeable belief that you are in an unbeatable majority might start to waver.  Many Democrats in my state don’t bother voting because they feel it is hopeless – what if this project flipped that script?

Also, finding something cool is fun!

 


4. Why tiny hats and not bigger ones?

Because tiny hats are adorable.  They can be pinned to your blouse, or hung from your rear view mirror.  They can be thrown in a jewelry box or stuffed into your makeup drawer as a daily reminder that the fight isn’t over.  They fit on the end of your pencil, or can be slipped on a finger and waved.  The kids will want to use them to punctuate when they flip the bird.  They don’t have to fit a real head, so fitting issues are not issues.  Tiny hats can be made very quickly, so a lot of them can be distributed in a short amount of time.  They can fit in a craftivist’s purse or pocket, in case of travel into  an unfriendly area.  They can be made while waiting in a school pick up line, or while sitting at the doctor’s office, or while on public transit.  Big balls of yarn and needles are not required, as travel equipment is purse sized.  Tiny hats are a symbol of the larger hats, and, in turn, a symbol, a reminder, a requerdo of the larger movement.  And did I mention that they are adorable?  That said, if people want to make bigger hats, then make bigger hats.  If they want to make tinier hats, then God Bless them, and I wish I could see as well as they do.  The project is my gift to the community; what they do with that gift is up to them.

 


5. What is your goal for this project?

Right now, I just want to get the word out and get people mobilized, activated and engaged with the curative power of having something to do.  I want them to fill out the urgently needed political postcards, make the calls, and engage in the post march call to action, but I want them to also be able to do something where their focus shifts to the non thinking headspace of:  “needle behind, loop forward, correct tension, transfer the stitch, repeat.”  I want them to be able to turn their mind off and on through a radical act of crafting.  Selfishly, I want to see what they make.  Already I have been sent sketches, suggestions and sighs of relief.  That was my biggest thrill today. 

The secondary goal is:

What’s the reaction?  I have no idea if I have opened (as we say in Texas) a big can of whoop ass on myself.  If I have, then at least I have taken a stand.  Texas women used to do that, and I know a lot of us still carry that gene.  I want people to post about how they found their tiny hats and how it made them feel.  Did the hat meet them on a bad day?  Did the hat bring them hope?  Will Fox News be quoted?  Will Steve Bannon curse?

Like with my two boys just a few years ago, my job is to send the project out into the world.  What happens next is my concern, but it is not anything I really have control over.  That’s the risky part of Art Making.

 What is my dream result?

World Peace.  A Single Payer Health Care System.  Reversal of Climate Change.  A well supported public education system that continues through a Bachelor’s degree.  A legislature that is consistently 50 percent female.   The abolition of gerrymandering and Citizen’s United.  A complete rethink of the electoral college.  Passage of the ERA.   Justice for All regardless of skin color or ethnicity.  A modern energy system that is not dependent on oil.  Equal Pay.  An end to income inequality.  An engaged and factually informed electorate.  The Right to Marry and the Right to Choose.  Well funded arts programs.  A basic income for all.  Yada Yada Yada.  I would settle, though, for a progressive legislature and a President Warren.

A Hide a Hat and Fight Back call to arms.

 

Sewing together a tiny hat using a wooden spoon as a form.

 

Two tiny hats ready to go on cards.

 

A suggestion for writing Hide a Hat and Fight Back cards.

 

With my husband (in the hat he knitted) at the ATX march. And yes, I gave my heavy wool hat away for someone else to wear. It was 80 degrees, the sun was beating down on my menopausal head, so, a radical among radicals, I wore my back up summer headband and ears on my freshly blued hair.

Craftivism = Dialogue, Dialogue = A New Beginning.

NB: For this post, I recommending physically clicking on the photos to see them at their full size. You won’t be disappointed.

Growing up in the 80s, we were all terrified by AIDS, even though, at that time, our chances of getting it as tweens and early teens was pretty nil. But the unknowableness of the disease made it terrifying. This photo came to our cultural consciousness from the pages of LIFE magazine in 1990.

I gave Ryan White a hug at a church function. He was a hugger, of course, so this was totally okay. I think it was the first time I truly realized that you could give with your presence, your attention, your touch. After all that we had heard on the news with fear mongering, hearing the reality straight from the teen’s mouth and having him stand in front of us, it seemed like the only thing we could do. To show him that we weren’t afraid, to show others there was no reason to be afraid, and to show ourselves that there was a real person in front of us. And sometimes when we’re farther afield, it feels like making something is all we can do.

aidsquiltnamesproject

Often times when people ask me about craftivism, I mention the AIDS quilt* as an example, because everyone knows the AIDS quilt! Its presence has helped ease the stigma of AIDS and HIV. Its presence has helped create dialogue of all sorts, from family members who created the squares to visitors walking among the squares to people viewing photos of the squares, it helped start the conversation about AIDS. It moved all of us from being too frozen to do anything to literally giving us something to talk about. A literal quilt.

From a wonderful piece on the AIDS quilt by WBUR, here is a bit about its humble beginnings:

In spring 1987, Bay Area activist Cleve Jones—a friend and protégé of Harvey Milk, the pioneering gay San Francisco politician—began working with friends to assemble quilt squares. Each panel was 3 feet by 6 feet, the size of a human grave. Each was emblazoned with the name of someone lost to AIDS. And they put out a call inviting others to make more.

“My political cronies said it couldn’t work,” Jones told The San Francisco Chronicle in 1996. “I always knew it would be successful.”

The idea had come to Jones during a 1985 march to remember Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, who were both murdered by a gunman at City Hall in 1978. Jones asked participants to carry signs featuring the names of San Franciscans who had died from AIDS. At the end of the procession, they taped the signs to the walls of the San Francisco Federal Building. The patchwork look reminded Jones of a quilt.

In June 1987, the first 40 panels of the AIDS Quilt were hung outside San Francisco City Hall. “We were founded to remember their names and to advance a movement,” Rhoad says. “We were founded by a group of grassroots activists to transform the conversation from statistics, the other, all the things that were driving the conversation in the ‘80s.”

The article continues to say that the quilt “honors 96,000 people” and that “they get a new panel almost every day.”

Amazing, huh?

Dialogue was the reason why I started craftivism in the first place. To highlight how what we make with our hands can start a conversation that we may not be able to otherwise put into words. And this, to me, is the most important thing about craftivism. The thing I’m the most proud of, knowing that in making craftivist pieces we are creating conversations that may not have otherwise happened. As craftivists, we are allowing our crafts to have a life beyond utilitarianism and aesthetics, we are allowing craft itself to enter the conversation.

You may be one person or 96,000 to contribute to your project or see your work, and that’s okay, because you started a dialogue with someone. Someone (hopefully!) put the connection together about the medium and the message and why they fit together. And as I talked about last week, it’s the you element that is the most important here.

Because often craftivist pieces are about subjects that we find difficult to talk about. Race, illness, class, harassment, assault, and more. All issues that are involved and not for bus stop chatter. All issues that we talk about amongst people that we know. All issues that are sticky and tricky and full of weight and frustration and layers. These conversations get caught in our throats and make our voices quake. Yet, when we have a craftivist piece about the issue, we can go into it sideways by explaining the process or aesthetics or reasoning.

I guess in a way, you could say that for craftivists, our pieces are literally our shields. Pieces of armor that deflect those who want to hurt us. If necessary, we can hide behind them. But more often than not, it is their very presence that gives us courage to go into battle. We know it will cushion any possible verbal blows and give us conviction with its coverage.

And with each dialogue we start, we create a new beginning, a new way of understanding. Yes, there may not be agreement, but that doesn’t mean something valuable hasn’t happened. You started the hard conversation. Your work opened the door to a back and a forth, instead of a one-way lecture.

#3 Printcovercover FINALvangardist printausgabe.indd

Over the past few days, pieces (here and here) have come out about a new issue of the Vangardist that was literally printed with the blood of HIV+ people. Talk about helping people work on their own feelings about AIDS! How many dialogues (both with others and internal) were started because of this? Amazing!

So, as the godmother of craftivism, I say to you, if you take nothing else away from me or craftivism itself, take away that your acts of craft are powerful, the dialogues you start are important, and your willingness to create them is immeasurable.

*If you’d like to read more about the AIDS quilt and craftivism, LJ Roberts’ essay in Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism is about just that.

Week #10 of 48 Weeks of Historical Craftivism, Hannah Ryggen!

Hannah Ryggen is a Norwegian weaver who made amazing political tapestries. I had never heard of her until I started talking about craftivism to a museum curator in Oslo, who then introduced me to her work. That’s one of the things I love most about craft, there’s always something or someone new to discover, uncover, and learn about!




hannahryggen-384x500





Born in 1894 in Sweden, Hannah Ryggen moved to Ørland, Norway, in 1924 where she lived most of her life until her death in 1970. Originally trained as a painter, Ryggen adopted weaving and tapestry as a medium to reflect her social and political engagement. Among her most important exhibitions are a solo exhibition at Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1962), and participation within the Nordic Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia (1964).




deathofdreams1936



The story of Hannah Ryggen is far from the classic tale of the contemporary artist born and trained in the big city, the fulcrum and hotbed of the edgiest scene. Instead, it is that of a leftist, pacifist woman, in love with nature, who lived on a farm far away from it all, on a Norwegian fjord, where she wove tapestries. These large works combine abstraction and figure, and not only address timely topics of the day—the invasion of Ethiopia by the Italians, for example—but also express dissent—regarding the execution of the communist Herrmann, or the war in Vietnam—or admiration for those who refuse to be swayed by questionable positions.




Ryggen’s political commitment is demonstrated in tapestries dedicated to the executed German communist dissident Liselotte Herrmann (Lise Lotte Hermann Halshuggen, 1938) and to the imprisoned left-wing humanist campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize-winner




“I am a painter, not a weaver; a painter whose tool is not the brush, but the loom.”




EnFri(AFreeOne)1947



A self-taught weaver, spinning and colouring her own yarn with plant-based dyes, Ryggen created works that came to be characterized as ‘Tendency Art’ – art with socio-political and critical contents. With the medium of weaving, she commented on Fascism and Nazism’s emergence in Europe in the inter-war years, and Norwegian politics in the post-war years.

Ryggen never drew preliminary designs before beginning to weave; she was experimental, but had a clear idea of how the end result should look. Most of her pictorial weavings are characterized by an explicit social and political protest that is executed in a daring, original and personal style.

No one followed directly in her footsteps, yet she is considered important, not least because she was the first Norwegian textile artist to be accepted as a bonafide pictorial artist. Her works, moreover, were purchased by Norway’s National Gallery and were, in 1964, the first textiles to be included in the Autumn Exhibition – a prestigious, juried event.




A story about one of Ryggen’s special forms of protest in her Norwegian homeland has been handed down. During the German occupation of the country—up to seven thousand German soldiers were stationed in Ørland during the Second World War—the artist hung her critical tapestries on a laundry line next to her house, where they were very visible. In 1924 Ryggen and her husband had moved to a small farmhouse in Ørland, “the adventure of our lives,” as the artist herself wrote. Prior to that, but after working as a teacher, she had received a thorough academic education in painting. Despite their remote location, she and her husband, the painter Hans Ryggen, attentively followed the developments of the European avant-garde. Furthermore, the artist—a pacifist and an avowed reader of political writings—was active in the Norwegian communist party in the 1930s and was an early advocate of feminist ideas.

Week #8 of 48 Weeks of Historical Craftivism, Knitting and the Vietnam War!

Knitting and the Vietnam War?! Really?! Yes! During the Vietnam War, 2 Canadian organizations Canadian Aid for Vietnamese Children (CAVC) and Voice of Women (VOW) used knitting as a way to help the Vietnamese people. Here are some of the links that I found so you can learn more about what happened.




I was puzzled, however, as knitting did experience extreme peaks in popularity during wars prior to 1950, however, with the Vietnam war, knitting for wartime efforts played a far smaller role in female participation in war efforts, leading up to the present day, in which knitted goods are virtually absent from discourse on military support efforts. How did knitting go from being such an integral part of the war effort to being a nonexistent one?




Voice of Women (VOW) was founded in 1960 whem women across Canada decided they must try to stop what appeared to be imminent nuclear war. The Summit Conference had collapsed; the Cold War was rapidly getting hotter, and we felt women around the world should band together to demand an end to war. Groups like VOW were formed in many countries.

By the end of its first year, VOW had 6000 members. It organized an International Women’s Conference in September 1962- the first meeting in Canada to include women from the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. Conference delegates called on the U.N. to designate a World Peace Year. The idea was taken up by Prime Minister Nehru at the UN, and 1965 was proclaimed International Cooperation Year.




…Young initiated a knitting project to provide clothing for Vietnamese children as a means of communicating the harsh realities of war; she hoped thereby to influence citizens across North America to press for a speedy end to the war. By November 1966, just a few months after the establishment of CAVC’s children’s committee, the knitting project had gained momentum. In a letter to Kay MacPherson, Young asserted, “We have found that actual involvement in ‘making things’ has done more to arouse compassion and publicize the great need for acts of humanitarianism and the desperate need to halt the war, than any other project.




Women in North America have long been active in trying to put an end to conflicts around the world. In the early 1960s, when the threat of nuclear war loomed over many nations, our own Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW) was formed. Since then, the organization has been promoting peace and disarmament, particularly in the context of nuclear war.

VOW has organized unique activities to draw attention to its cause. In 1963, it collected and tested thousands of baby teeth from children across North America to demonstrate the fallout from the atmospheric testing of Strontium 90, a harmful radioactive isotope. During the Vietnam War, the Ontario VOW organized the Knitting Project for Vietnamese Children. Over a ten-year period, the group sent thousands of hand-knitted garments and other aid to the child victims of the war and their families.

Over time, VOW has expanded its focus to include human rights and civil liberties, preservation of the environment, as well as economic and political issues.




darkcolors



Presumably some of the young Canadian knitters and other youth volunteers found kinship with the unknown Vietnamese children they were assisting or when they imagined themselves in the same situation. Zoya Stevenson, a Toronto teen, participated in the CAVC knitting campaign because she could relate to the Vietnamese children affected by the war. “The napalm bombing of innocent women and children (like myself) shocked me,” she recalled, elaborating that “the fact that these acts of terror were sanctions by citizens of my own country, frightened me terribly.”


VOW





The efforts of women fighting for peace did not end with the World Wars, nor did the use of knitting as a form of peace activism stop. The Canadian group ‘Voice of Women’ (VOW), created in July 1960 as a reaction against the Cold War, garnered ten thousand members by 1961 – just twelve months after having been first established.[25] Barbara Roberts’ essay, Women’s Peace Activism in Canada, featured in Kealey and Sangster’s Beyond the Vote: Canadian Women and Politics (1989), explains the way in which VOW became a prominent feminist and peace activist group during the years of the Cold War, despite being founded at a time when “feminists were cranks” and “socialists were commies”.[26] The group took on the initiative of knitting thousands of camouflage baby clothes to be shipped to Vietnam so as to protect children and their families from the US air strikes.[27] This bold action made a loud statement to the Canadian people, and despite not being well received by much of the public, VOW continued to protest the Cold War.

More reading:
*Purls for Peace:The Voice of Women, Maternal Feminism, and the Knitting Project for Vietnamese Children
* Re-Imagining War: The Voice of Women, The Canadian Aid for Vietnam Civilians, and the Knitting Project for Vietnamese Children, 1966-1976

Week #4 of 48 Weeks of Historical Craftivism, Arpilleras

A few days late on this one, thanks to traveling, but here is week #4, about the arpilleras of Chile and the arpilleristas who made them.

dondeestan

During the reign of Augosto Pinochet (a dictator in power from 1973 to 1990) in Chile, men were disappearing and the government wouldn’t tell the people who were asking why. Women were allowed to go once a week to the local government office and ask, but no one would tell them anything. (According to some reports, during his time in power, over 3,000 people were killed and around 30,000 were tortured.)

Added to all of this was that people couldn’t talk to each other because they didn’t know who was supplying what information to the government. Under the safety of the church, the Archdiocese of Santiago, set up a human rights organization where women could come together and make tapestries about what was happening.

Folk lore has it that Peace Corps volunteers smuggled these tapestries out of the country (often with little pockets in the back containing paper with more information) and that is how the world found out about what Pinochet was doing.

Below is more information taken from various sources around the web. Clicking on the text and on the photos will take you to the initial source. As you will see, these pieces are still being made as people remember “the disappeared” (los desaparecidos).


Arpillera2

It began with a group of mothers, almost 14 mothers. They met in morgues, hospitals, former tribunals of justice, and realized that all the elements that were such an important part of Chilean society were closed. Completely vanished. And they sought help by contacting a newly developed organization that was a branch of the Catholic Church, called the Vicariate of Solidarity. The Chilean Catholic Church took a very courageous position towards the disappearances and abuses at the hands of the Pinochet government, very different than in Argentina or Guatemala. The more I think about this story, the more I believe that it’s a story of belief – belief, magic, and storytelling. The women that suffered the most, as we know throughout the stories that we see in the media, as we know through Katrina, were the disadvantaged. The poor. Poverty is also a punishment for authoritarian governments. These women were trained in the most traditional art of femaleness in Latin America, which was to sew, to embroider.


The colourful patchwork scenes make the arpilleras visually deceiving. Using a traditional form of folk art, they mix coded imagery with contemporary history. They depict the often tragic situations experienced by thousands of Chileans every day. These honest and sometimes brutal accounts provided future generations with a popular version of history, one that contradicted the official version depicting General Pinochet as the savior of Chilean democracy. The circulation of the arpilleras outside Chile brought this alternative history to the larger world.

Just as they went unrecognized as revolutionaries, the arpilleristas were also unrecognized as artists. This, along with the folk art appearance of their work, initially helped them remain under the military authorities’ radar. Exporting arpilleras became illegal once they were seen as anti-Chilean, but they continued to be smuggled out of the country.

08-Sala-de-torturas-CP-Resized-1024x823

In this arpillera [above], Violeta Morales is outspoken about Chile’s infamous history of torture, which was long unknown in the wider world. As Co-ordinator of the group Sabastián Acevedo, which was primarily concerned with the issue of torture, she was relentless in ensuring that people everywhere were informed of the widespread use of torture in Chile. With other women, she founded the Folkloric Musical Ensemble of Relatives of the detained-disappeared, as: “…we also wished to sing our message of protest.”
Agosin, M., (2008)

Violeta Morales died in 2002, never having found her brother Newton, who disappeared in 1974.

(You can see more photos here, which are linked to more explanation regarding their creation.)


“The arpilleras were often made from clothing of the disappeared and the names of missing loved ones can be found on some pieces. Other sewn words and expressions were simple protests: Dόnde estás? Where are you? The censorship that characterized Chile under Pinochet’s dictatorship defeated written words that opposed his regime. The handwork of the arpilleristas testified for the oppressed and detailed the struggle for truth and justice despite the suppression of the military government.

Bold lines and colors relayed powerful messages depicted in folk-like scenes. An arpillera of a woman dancing signifies how women now performed the national dance La Cueca alone with the fate of their husbands unknown. Other images depict military violence, bloodshed and armed figures.

The arpilleras were made during clandestine meetings in dark basements or churches. The sewn testimonials of suffering were sold by the women so that their messages were released into the world and so they could feed their families.”





More reading:
*Roberta Bacic’s amazing online collection of arpilleras
*Prospectjournal.org: A Visual History of the Poor Under Pinochet
*Chilean Women’s Resistance in the Arpillera Movement


Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes