Week Eight: Noah's Happy Venture by Maria Uyauri

February 24, 2019

Week Eight: Noah

Noah's Ark is a favorite theme of the fabric artists featured in the Andean Arpilleras page in the Schools of Sacred Art section. When you look at this week's charming example from these listings, showing disembarking animals, by Peruvian Embroiderer Maria Uyauri, you would little suspect these narrative cloth panels, traditionally made on burlap (known in Spanish as "arpillera"), once had darker stories to tell. During the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile from 1973 to 1990, family members of the imprisoned, killed, or “missing” joined in church-sponsored sewing circles to make these images for sale abroad, often depicting life under the repressive regime. Arpillera-sewing, then, crossed over to Peru in the 1980s, providing income for peasants who fled to shantytowns around the capital of Lima to escape Maoist guerillas in their home villages in the Andes Mountains. Uyauri learned her craft in a women’s support group and creates rainbow-colored textile art of this kind from bits of fabric and braid, yarn figures and the occasional found object. (John Kohan)