Exhibition - Arte, Mujer y Memoria: Arpilleras from Chile

Friday, Aug 28, 2020

Long Beach, CA 90801

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Arpilleras are a palpable testimonies to the lived experiences of Chilean citizens throughout the brutal seventeen year Pinochet regime. Colorful textile works backed with burlap, they document the stories of women and their communities, denounce the cruelty of the government and bear witness to the human rights abuses carried out by the dictatorship.

Hundreds of thousands of people were persecuted, tortured, and imprisoned and over 3,000 were murdered under General Augusto Pinochet. Women lost breadwinners when brothers, fathers, sons, and partners disappeared. Arpillera workshops were places where they applied domestic skills to create works that expressed their frustrations and highlighted collaborative responses to their situation. Women shared their trauma, collectively looked for answers, and created textiles to sell for basic sustenance.

Many of the workshops were formed through church-based human rights organizations. Arpilleras were smuggled out of the country through international networks that connected women in Chile with their exiled sisters.

Pinochet remained in power until 1990 and continued to supervise the military until 1998. While officials tried to hide or deny the human rights abuses conducted under his administration, the tangible nature of the arpilleras and the global attention they garnered made it impossible to deny the regime’s horrors and the lives it claimed.

The arpilleras in this exhibition were gathered by MEMCH-LA (Movement for the Emancipation of the Chilean Woman-Los Angeles) a local chapter of the global feminist organization who work to amplify the voices of Chilean women.

This exhibition was curated Gabriela Martínez, Director of Education at MOLAA.

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