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3 Types of Latinx Artworks with Project Ideas

As I mentioned in my last post, I love the culture and art of Latin America. It is Hispanic Heritage Month and I thought it would be fun to share three of my favorite Latin American art forms along with projects that you can do inspired by those types of art.

Sketches of two molas and an arpillera

As an art teacher, I have done all of these art projects with students of all ages and I can say with confidence they are always a success. Kids and adults will learn a lot about the countries where these artworks are created and they will learn some fun ways to make their own art inspired by Latin American artists.

Sketches of molas with pencil and watercolor

Molas are a type of textile worn by the Kuna people of Panama. Molas are made with layers of fabric, which are then cut away to reveal the various colors beneath. Many molas are symmetrical meaning the shapes and/ or colors are repeated on each side. Many, however, are not symmetrical and the artisans use asymmetry instead.

Sketch of a Kuna woman wearing a mola textile

Take a look at some samples of Molas here and then make your own! You can use brightly colored paper, scissors, and glue to design your own interpretation of a mola. The Kuna people use animals, plants, and geometric shapes to inspire their designs and you can do the same.

Other Helpful Mola Related Links:

Alebrijes are brightly painted folk art sculptures from Mexico originally created by artist Pedro Linares. When Linares was sick with a fever, he dreamt of a brightly colored animal-like creatures called alebrijes. When he recovered, he began to create this creatures using paper mache and paint. To this day, his family continues to make this art form.

Using air dry clay and tempera or acrylic paint, you can make your own alebrijes. Form the clay into an animal or animal-like creature of your choice (use the shape animal drawings as a guide). Follow the directions on the package to let the clay dry. Paint the clay with lots of bright colors and fun patterns. You can even use marker to add fine detail.

Other Helpful Alebrije Links:

Arpilleras are brightly colored fabric tapestries from Chile, which became popular in the 1970's and 1980's. Due to political unrest, news of what was happening in Chile was not able to get out of the country. Women, called arpilleristas, would meet in secret to stitch their stories into fabric. The artworks were then smuggled out of the country to be shared with the world outside. The artworks were sold abroad and the money was sent back to the artists. There is more to this story and you can read it here.

You can create your own arpillera inspired fabric collage by using scraps of old fabric or an inexpensive fabric material like this. Once you have your materials, you have to decide what story to tell. The arpilleristas of Chile often told stories about their struggles and hardships, but they also shared stories of family, friendship, and culture. They almost always included the Andes Mountains in their artworks to show that the artwork was created in Chile.

Once you have selected the story you want to tell, you can start cutting pieces and gluing them into position. Think about what landmarks you should include, so that your viewers know where the story is taking place. You can also add stitching with a needle and thread, but that is always optional. Arpilleristas included a lot of detail in their textile artworks, so make sure you include a lot of detail when you share your story.

Other Helpful Arpillera Links:

I've given you lots of ideas, artist names, recommended materials, as well as additional links to continue your education. Please share any artworks you make with me! Do you have a favorite Latin American art form that I missed? Please share it in the comments below!

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