Religion and the Angel's Wake Tradition in Violeta Parra's Art and Lyrics

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This article explores Violeta Parra's employment of religious archetypes in her music and visual art. It considers the disparate ways in which Parra employs religious tropes in her arpilleras [embroideries] and paintings. In some cases Parra's employment of religion is satirical and sacreligious, while in other cases her religious representations are serious and profound. In all cases, the same themes are reiterated in Parra's music and in her visual art. Much of the focus in this article is on Parra's representation of the Angel's Wake tradition. By presenting this ritual and other popular practices that are not considered as art, Parra destabilised implicit hegemonies in the field of cultural production. At the heart of her work is a drive to vindicate Chilean traditional art forms, such as popular poetry, which was itself based on a stock of religious narratives. Her use of religious tropes thus offers a pliable view of religion, which places value on folk culture. Although Parra's works can be seen as religious, ultimately the religious narratives are drawn from popular representations and thus it is folk culture that provides Parra with the visual syntax for her art and the themes for some of her song lyrics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-109
JournalTaller de letras
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Violeta Parra
  • arpilleras
  • Latin American art
  • Chilean art
  • velorio del angelito
  • Angel's wake tradition
  • embroideries
  • paintings
  • religious iconography
  • religious art

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