Tuesday, 31 March 2020
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  • Textile Details

    'Cimarrón / Runaway slave', by Mujeres tejiendo sueños y sabores de paz. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)
    'Cimarrón / Runaway slave', by Mujeres tejiendo sueños y sabores de paz. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)


    Title of Textile:Cimarrón / Runaway slave
    Maker: Mujeres tejiendo sueños y sabores de paz
    Country of Origin: Colombia
    Year Produced: 2010
    Size (cm): 42cm x 55cm
    Materials: Scraps of material handsewn onto backing
    Type of Textile: Arpillera

    Juana Alicia Ruiz is a survivor of Mampuján, a small town in northwest Colombia that was the site of a massacre on 11 March 2000 by the now demobilised United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) a coalition of right-wing counter-insurgency paramilitary groups which was alleged to have links to the military and members of the government and congress, a number of whom were indicted before the courts for collusion. In that brutal attack, 12 people were killed, from nearby Las Brisas, and more than 1,400 civilians were displaced. Initially scattered, about half of the group settled in 2002 in Mampuján Nuevo, on small plots of land about eight kilometres away from their old community.

    This arpillera, exhibited for the first time in UMASS, was made by a group of 15 women. Through this process they have found solace, a way to bear witness by sewing and a means of denouncing and sharing their dramatic experiences. They have exhibited in Geneva and several places in their own country.

    Violence against communities in Colombia is not a recent phenomenon and a part of the powerful stories of these arpilleristas resides in seeing what happens today as something that is not isolated.

    Juana, when asked what she would say about this arpillera which depicts state violence against her ancestors, replied: "Cimarrón means a black rebel, or slave who has escaped to the heights of the mountains. It is a textile account of the daily activities and human rights violations of our African ancestors. This happened in the big haciendas of Cartagena. They rebelled and escaped to the hills of Maria, setting up the palenques where we live now. The big man carries a punishment for a failed attempt to escape. It consists of a piece of tree tied to his shoulders."

    Owner: Conflict Textiles collection
    Location: c/o Esther Alleyne, Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre, Limavady, N. Ireland
    Original / Replica: Original
    Photographer: Martin Melaugh

    Textile Detail Image(s)