Arpilleras are three-dimensional appliqué textiles of Latin America. A contemporary craft, the first ones were made by the Mothers of the Disappeared in Chile to tell their stories and support their families.
In 1973, General Augusto Pinochet led a dramatic military coup against Chile’s democratically elected Marxist government. Many citizens were publically executed and at least 3,000 Chilean citizens were murdered or disappeared and thousands more were imprisoned and tortured. Chilean woman brought international awareness to this torture through visual representation.
A textile is a flexible material comprised of a network of natural or artificial fibers often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw wool fibers, linen, cotton, or other material on a spinning wheel to produce long strands known as yarn. Textiles are formed by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting, or pressing fibers together
Students were given a large amount of scrap fabric, white sheet cut out, thread, needles, and glue. Each group of five students was encouraged to pick a theme, and to create Arpilleras representing that theme in some way. Some of the themes represented were climates, as shown by the desert climate in the picture above, Spring, and Ocean. This activity would not be suitable for younger grades due to the fine motor skills required to use the needle and thread, and would be more appropriate for upper intermediate students. This project can be adapted to any theme, from making political statements to representing a story, and it is this flexibility that makes this such a great project. My only apprehension about this project would be that students would require basic sewing skills to complete the project, so these skills would need to be taught before the project could commence.
Wool Works – information about knitting, spinning, dyeing