Sunday, October 13, 2013

A woman's work is never done: The personal is political, and the political is art

The mainstream will be discomfited, but women have long responded to social injustice with art ... in particular folk art, born of the everyday: thread, fabric, wood, paint, words....

Margarita Azurdia's sculpture "The Warriors" was created during the height of the 30+ year armed internal conflict in Guatemala that evolved into genocide and left 200,000 dead and some 50,000 disappeared.

Read my story: Collateral Memory

La superviviente 

Me habita un cementerio 
me he ido haciendo vieja 
al lado de mis muertos. 
no necesito amigos 
me da miedo querer porque he querido a muchos 
y a todos los perdí en la guerra. 

Me basta con mi pena. 
Ella me ayuda a vivir estos amaneceres blancos 
estas noches desiertas 
esta cuenta incesante de las pérdidas.

Feminist Cuban artist Ana Mendieta made art that blurred the boundaries of the self, often using her own body as the integral but temporary artistic image itself (as in the pictured "Incantation to Olokun-Yemayá" and "Untitled, Silueta Series.") Critic B. Ruby Rich says: "Her body was her art and she placed it in the ground. In doing so, she was trying to ground herself in the earth but also reconnect with the earth that she was standing on even if it was not Cuba."

Read: Nisi Shawl's Pataki

Listen: Celia Cruz's Ochún con Changó

Jesse Telfair's 1983 quilt was created when she lost her job. It strongly references Civil War era quilts patterned with abolitionist slogans, and pays tribute to the long tradition of African-American quilt making.

Nikki Giovanni

Like a fading piece of cloth

I am a failure

No longer do I cover tables filled with food and laughter

My seams are frayed my hems falling my strength no longer able

To hold the hot and cold

I wish for those first days

When just woven I could keep water

From seeping through

Repelled stains with the tightness of my weave

Dazzled the sunlight with my


I grow old though pleased with my memories

The tasks I can no longer complete

Are balanced by the love of the tasks gone past

I offer no apology

only this plea:

When I am frayed and strained and drizzle at the end

Please someone cut a square and put me in a quilt

That I might keep some child warm

And some old person with no one else to talk to

Will hear my whispers

And cuddle


Bordamos por la paz is a collective of extraordinary ordinary women (which started in Guadalajara, Mexico but now has chapters throughout the nation), who embroider a handkerchief for each death that occurs as a result of the brutal "War on Drugs" that has left more than 60,000 dead.

Stitchwork as a surprisingly popular form of protest:
During Pinochet's Chile
Get Knitted

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