Weaving of the Disappeared

Ester Hernandez (American, b. 1944)
Image : 15 3/4 x 21 1/4 in. (40.01 x 53.98 cm)
Sheet : 17 x 22 in. (43.18 x 55.88 cm)
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Hope College Collection
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From 1960 to 1996, a civil war was fought in Guatemala between right-wing forces aligned with a succession of military dictatorships that wanted to preserve the political, economic and social power of the country's wealthiest families and corporations, and left-wing forces aligned with the country's working classes and indigenous populations that wanted to end racial and class discrimination and enforce a more equitable distribution of the national wealth. At least 200,000 people were killed during this 36-year conflict, the vast majority of whom were soldiers and civilians associated with the left-wing insurgency. Artist Ester Hernandez created this print shortly after visiting Guatemala in the early 1980s at the height of the civil war. The design of the print recalls designs found in woven shawls called rebozos that were traditionally worn by working class and indigenous women in Guatemala and other Central American countries. Images of helicopter gunships and skulls within the weaving design, and the splatters of blood on its surface, remind us of the civil war's terrible human death toll, especially among Guatemala's indigenous Mayan population that bore the brunt of the attacks on civilians by government-backed death squads during the 1970s and 80s.    

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