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Violeta Parra’s isolation …

December 12, 2020

When I began Blogging, I wrote about women who I considered wise and that while I researched, I hoped I too would appear wise or even noteworthy.  Well, that didn’t happen; I even thought that doing a MA might bring the beguiling wisdom, but that thus far hasn’t occured. 

However, in the event of Covid 19 and my self-isolation for the last 9 months I have found to time to reflect on these women and learn a little more about their extraordinary lives.

Violeta Parra for instance, (1927-1967) was Chile’s foremost folk singer and political activist as described in my previous post ‘Violeta Parra was a well loved and respected woman who tirelessly bought folklore tradition of Chile to the fore.  Violeta was brave enough to disregard the imperialist rhythms that may have harmed the already fragile culture of Chile’.

During Parra’s short life she suffered with depression and violent mood swings.  In 1960 a natural disaster cut short a concert tour of the south and her health was threatened yet again.  For a month nine earthquakes, more intense than ever recorded, devastated huge areas of Chile and killed 10,000 people.  Karen Kerschen in her book ‘Violeta Parra: by the whim of the wind’ describes this unparalleled devastation more fully and the horror that Parra had witnessed until she was able to return home after her aborted concert.   At home, raw and exhausted was diagnosed with hepatitis and confined to bed for several months.  It was here where she found solace with needlework.  Having seen the arpilleras in Chiloe, an island of the coast of Chile, she used coarse wool thread and embroidered every piece of cloth she had at hand; bed sheets and curtains were removed without remorse.  When Violeta’s friends visited her during her convalesce, Violeta encouraged them to unravel wool sweaters and wind them into skeins of colourful embroidery threads.

Violeta in a meditative state stitched intricate ‘pictures’ of people, she was able to embroider character, poetry, colour, texture and drama, depicting her everyday surroundings. The art that came out of these isolated conditions would receive great acclaim many years later.

While I cannot pretend, I know what it is like to have my world shattered by an earthquake beyond that on the Richter scale. Or, to be so aggrieved and hopeless to take my own life like Violeta Parra.  

We have been isolated and threatened by a deadly virus and one hopes that from this relative extreme situation we might discover our wisdom. 

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