Visual art by Violeta Parra in Chile

This is a video of the song Gracias a la vida – by Violeta Parra.

From the Santiago Times in Chile:


(Oct. 4, 2007) Culture Minister Paulina Urrutia gave the news media a sneak preview on Tuesday of the new, permanent exposition of Chile’s famed musician and folk artist Violeta Parra now housed at the La Moneda Culture Center. The exhibition will be open to the public on November 8.

While Parra is often most remembered as a folk musician, she was also an ethnographer, a poet, an oil painter, a seamstress and a plastic artist. Parra tried to spread Chilean folk art throughout the world. She lived in Paris for four years and became the first Latino to exhibit individually at the Louvre (ST, Feb. 5).

The exhibition is called “Violeta Parra: la que viene escondida”, referring to the 17 years that the pieces spent in hiding after the military coup of 1973. Parra’s children -along with many of her family members- chose to go in exile during the Pinochet regime.

The showroom houses 25 oil paintings, 13 “arpilleras”- traditional art depicting images with thread and cloth – and 9 paper mâché pieces. The works are divided over two spaces. A third space contains three giant video screens, depicting Parra’s life and work.

The showroom is designed specifically for the best preservation and showcasing of Parra’s oil paintings, paper mâché pieces and arpilleras (ST, Feb. 5). The pieces, which were formally kept by the Violeta Parra Foundation, underwent a sophisticated process of preservation and restoration to prevent deterioration during the exhibit’s five-year run.

The arpilleras were the pieces most in need of preservation. They have been carefully restored to their former glory.

Temperature and humidity are the greatest threats to the deterioration of textiles. For this reason, the exhibit will use special equipment to control the climate and ultraviolet rays.

The exhibition is organized in three parts, which permits the collection to be rotated so that something new will always be on display. This will also help assure that no piece of work is on display for more than eight months at a time, a technique that will help prevent deterioration.

The exhibition is part of the celebration of Violeta Parra’s ninetieth birthday – she was born on Oct. 4, 1917. A theater piece and a film on her life are also in the making (ST, Sept. 17). Violeta’s brothers – poet Nicanor and singer Eduardo– as well as her sons, daughters and grandchildren, are currently all important participants in Chile’s artistic scene.

Parra’s children, musicians Ángel and Isabel Parra spoke at the Tuesday launch.

“This is the culmination of a project that was started over 50 years ago. We’re arriving at a point where Violeta wanted to take us to. The work she did by collecting and popularizing (Chilean folklore) was something she didn’t do for us, but for Chile as a country,” said Ángel.

Eduardo Parra –aged 89- wasn’t able to attend the press conference due to health problems. He was diagnosed with bronchopneumonia and hospitalized over the weekend.

By Kristian de Leeuw (

5 thoughts on “Visual art by Violeta Parra in Chile

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