MoLAA's New Exhibit Threads Chile’s Tumultuous Past Through Arpilleras
January 10, 2020
At first glance, dozens of Chilean arpilleras—patchwork portraits on burlap canvasses—appear hopeful on display at the Museum of Latin American Art. Often depicting a beaming sun emerging from Andean mountaintops, the cheerful colors of stitched cloth sharply contrast with images of life under a brutal dictatorship: a presidential palace engulfed in flames, leftist activists dumped into the Pacific Ocean from military helicopters, book burnings and a boot stamping out press freedom.
“It was dangerous for Chilean women to create arpilleras but they were always working in spaces considered safe havens,” says Ana Maria Cobos, a retired Saddleback College librarian who helped organize the “Arte, Mujer y Memoria: Arpilleras From Chile 1973-1990” exhibit.