Ways women have transformed their experiences during wartime into art which ended up promoting peace.
1) Kathe Kollewitz: Anti-War Prints - Germany
Pacifist and Socialist Kathe Kollwitz portrayed the universal woman, everywoman in the struggles of war. She was a well know German artist who took on the cause of justice for the poor, the laborers, and sufferers of war. Her stark black and white prints and posters often portrayed the grief of parents who lost their children to the violence and famine of war. She lost her own son in World War I and her grandson in World War II. Becoming famous, her work was mostly prominent in the early 1920s, when, between the wars, it served to promote the horrors of war and the cause of peace. I have received a commission to make a poster against war. That is a task that makes me happy. Some may say a thousand times that this is not pure art...but as long as I can work, I want to be effective with my art.
While I drew and wept along with the terrified children I was drawing, I really felt the burden I am bearing. I felt that I have no right to withdraw from the responsibility of being an advocate....Is it any relief when in spite of my poster people in Vienna die of hunger every day? And when I know that? Did I feel relieved when I made the prints on war and knew that the war would go on raging? Certainly not.
2) Arpilleras: Chilean Womens Tapestry Art
The working class women of Chile used arpilleras (cloth pictures using patch work appliques on burlap tapestry) to communicate the plight of the Chilean people during the military dictator Pinochets regime, 1973-89. Many of the women who made the arpilleras were wives of political prisoners, widows of men who disappeared from villages, women who had to sell arpilleras to earn money for the survival of their families. The images within the arpilleras contained symbolism that depicted the relationship between events occuring daily in Chile as compared to the previous way of life within the country. At times under the government of Pinochet, poor women did not have much material to use. But they gathered twine, pieces of cloth, whatever they could, to make their tapestry art.
In those years few people spoke out, fearful of losing their lives. The tapestries, created as a natural way to earn money while depicting the realities of womens daily lives, became known as "newspaper on cloth." The women and their work became examples of female empowerment in the midst of violence.
3) Sadako: Paper Peace Cranes - Japan
1) Kathe Kollwitz art:
2) Peru Arpilleras:
3) Peace Cranes:
Lyn Reese is the author of all the information on this website
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Women in World History Curriculum