Arpilleras: Sewing for Resistance


Arpilleras are brightly colored patchwork works of art stitched onto backing chronicling the life of the poor and oppressed in Chile during the totalitarian military regime of General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. Impoverished talented women would protest atrocities and express daily life through textile art. These small, but meaningful tapestries told the outside world of hunger, fear, unemployment, housing shortages, and their missing men. Arpilleras served to document and denounce oppression in a country where all normal channels of free expression were closed.

In 1988 The Benton’s Education Department purchased fifty Arpilleras from the Vicaria de la Solidaridad, Santiago, Chile for the Education Collection. The Vicariate of Solidarity was an agency of the Catholic Church, Chile, established by Pope Paul VI at the request of Cardinal Ral Silva Henrquez. Its role was to assist the victims of General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte’s military dictatorship during the 1970s and 1980s.

For permission to reproduce, please contact the Registrar at The William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, Storrs, 860-486-1707.