Threads of Hope: Exhibition of Arpilleras & Gallery Talk

Exhibition Dates: Feb. 6-28, 2006

On February 14, 2006, Marjorie Agosín, a Visiting Professor at Brandeis and Professor of Spanish at Wellesley University, highlighted and described a set of tapestries created by a group of ordinary Chilean women who defied the military dictatorship of the 1970s and 80s. These tapestries -- Arpielleras -- tell stories of the loved ones abducted and killed by the dictatorship, giving a voice to those left behind at a time when it was too dangerous to speak the horrors aloud. By embroidering their sorrow on scraps of cloth and using their needles and thread, these Chilean women engaged in one of the boldest means of popular protest in Latin America. The rare arpilleras are from the collection of Agosín, herself a native of and an exile from Chile, who has spent over twenty years interviewing the arpilleristas.

The event was a rich mix of visual art (the arpilleras), poetry (Agosín read her poem The Disappeared), music (nueva canciónes heard on portable players for viewers), and history. Agosín's presentation was thorough, personal, colorful, heartfelt and riveting throughout. Audience questions afterwards touched many aspects of the issues, from agency to responsibility. More than 80 students, staff, faculty, and members of the general public attended the event.

Sponsored by the Women's Studies Research Center and MusicUnitesUS. The gallery talk was sponsored by the Women's Studies Research Center and the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life.

Agosín previously spoke of the Arpilleras at Telling the Story, a two-day conference on human rights documenters sponsored by the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life in September 2005.

The event was part of the Sol Y Canto Intercultural Residency, which highlighted the importance of music in documenting and protesting human rights abuses.