Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.


Copyright 2012 by the author(s).


In explaining connections between art and politics in my arpilleras (appliquÈ pictures), I discuss themes drawn from my life, my relatives' and other Peruvians' lives, and the experiences of fellow immigrants in the United States. In Alcamenca (Ayacucho, Peru), where I was born, we inherit from our ancestors the arts of spinning, weaving and sewing. In our isolated town, we lived from raising animals, agriculture, and textile production, and by barter except at the weekly market. As a child I wanted to leave, when people returned from the city for fiestas, with new clothes and jewelry. Later we did follow our relatives to those cities. In my town the sky is big and free for everyone, but in huge cities such as Lima, neither the space nor the sky above is yours, the houses are very close together, and pollution darkens the sky. We struggled to learn Spanish (coming from a Quechua-speaking community) and adapt to big city life - transportation, street vending, getting robbed. We dreamed of having our own home, building shanty towns of cardboard houses without running w·ter, and suffering from illness and malnutrition. I also show the national elections, with carnaval-like campaigns, as the media carries endless promises and lies. In my community as well, the parties offer tractors although there isn't even a highway, computers without electricity, and cell phones with no towers. Peru's many economic, political, and social problems pushed us to seek new horizons in neighboring countries, Europe, and for me the U.S. Here, I continue to develop my art, using new themes such as migrants' struggles for legal status.