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

Lorna Dillon

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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 sacrilegious, while in other cases her religious representations are serious and profound. In all cases, the same themes are re-iterated in Parra's music and in her visual art.

The original philosophical argument presented is that by presenting rituals and other popular practices as art, Parra destabilises implicit hegemonies in the field of cultural production. Dr Dillon uses the lyrics from Parra’s music to delineate Parra’s ideological position on issues and then she uses a selection of Parra’s religious art works as case studies for comparison with the music. Dr Dillon deconstructs the motifs and iconography in Parra’s narrative art to demonstrate that the same concerns are presented in Parra's visual art as in her music. Dr Dillon focuses on the way Parra presents rituals following the death of a child to demonstrate that some of Parra’s art is deeply reverent. She then contrasts this with examples of some of Parra’s other religious works to elucidate the idea that some of the religious images are satirical. Finally, Dr Dillon argues that although Parra's works can be seen as religious, ultimately the religious narratives are drawn from popular culture and thus it is folk culture rather than religion per se that ultimately influences the visual syntax of Parra’s art.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-109
Number of pages19
JournalTaller de letras
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Dec 2016


  • Religion
  • Violeta Parra
  • Music


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