Crafting Gender: Women and Folk Art in Latin America and the Caribbean

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Eli Bartra
Duke University Press, 2003 - Art - 244 pages
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This volume initiates a gender-based framework for analyzing the folk art of Latin America and the Caribbean. Defined here broadly as the "art of the people" and as having a primarily decorative, rather than utilitarian, purpose, folk art is not solely the province of women, but folk art by women in Latin America has received little sustained attention. Crafting Gender begins to redress this gap in scholarship. From a feminist perspective, the contributors examine not only twentieth-century and contemporary art by women, but also its production, distribution, and consumption. Exploring the roles of women as artists and consumers in specific cultural contexts, they look at a range of artistic forms across Latin America, including Panamanian molas (blouses), Andean weavings, Mexican ceramics, and Mayan hipiles (dresses).

Art historians, anthropologists, and sociologists from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States discuss artwork from Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Suriname, and Puerto Rico, and many of their essays focus on indigenous artists. They highlight the complex webs of social relations from which folk art emerges. For instance, while several pieces describe the similar creative and technical processes of indigenous pottery-making communities of the Amazon and of mestiza potters in Mexico and Colombia, they also reveal the widely varying functions of the ceramics and meanings of the iconography. Integrating the social, historical, political, geographical, and economic factors that shape folk art in Latin America and the Caribbean, Crafting Gender sheds much-needed light on a rich body of art and the women who create it.

Eli Bartra
Ronald J. Duncan
Dolores Juliano
Betty LaDuke
Lourdes Rejón Patrón
Sally Price
María de Jesús Rodríguez-Shadow
Mari Lyn Salvador
Norma Valle
Dorothea Scott Whitten


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Changing Fashions in a Traditional Culture
Renewed Strength for Traditional Puerto Rican Art
Molas Meaning and Markets
Creative Expressions of Canelos Quichua Women
Las Ceramistas of Mata Ortiz
Womens Folk Art in La Chamba Colombia
The Mapuche Craftswomen
The Aesthetics and Meaning of Female Votive Paintings in Chalma
The Legacy of Teodora Blanco
Tastes Colors and Techniques in Embroidered Mayan Female Costumes

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Page 3 - We need exhibitions that question the boundaries of art and of the art world, an influx of truly indigestible "outside" artifacts. The relations of power whereby one portion of humanity can select, value, and collect the pure products of others need to be criticized and transformed. This is no small task. In the meantime one can at least imagine shows that feature the impure, "inauthentic...
Page 10 - ... rest, and the artists blame the anthropologists for their lack of concern for these objects as works of fine art. Thus the discussion of primitive art has from the beginning been pervaded by a curious dilemma — you can approach primitive art from an aesthetic point of view but subjectively, or you can approach primitive art from a more objective basis but not aesthetically. What has not occurred in the case of primitive art, as has occurred with practically every other art form, is an approach...

About the author (2003)

Eli Bartra is a Professor in the Department of Politics and Culture at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco in Mexico City. She is the author of numerous books in Spanish.

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