Els Mommers – Country – Artist

Since I consider all Kuna women to be artists, I choose to incorporate their work in my Artist piece.

The people that surround the hammock are taken  from a very old, faded, antique mola, that must be at least 80 years old and already for more than 25 years in my possession.

The story that I want to tell in this piece is about the congress hall. Every island has a chief  “cacique” and one or two deputy chiefs “sahilas”. All the villagers meet every night in the very large “congresso” hut, situated in the middle of the island. This meeting is very important in daily Kuna life. They discuss all daily happenings and general politics.

The chiefs lay down in their hammocks in the middle of the hut, wearing their tribal hats,  smoke pipes or cigarettes and chant in a special language , no one else understands. The “argars” or speakers are sitting next to the hammocks and interpret the sahila’s words for everyone.

The sahila sings all night, then the argar says:

“Tekie, that’s the way it was”

(Demetrio Lopez of the island Nalunega, where I used to stay).

I have been so fortunate to have seen this happen a lot of times.

In this piece the old faded people are the argars. They are sewn onto a background and thereafter into the black fabric with a reverse applique (mola)-technique. The sahila is appliqued and embroidered in the chain stitch that is mostly used by the kunas. The words are embroidered in chainstitch as well.

The background is free motion quilted in a stippling motif.

Original art:

  1. carolinehiggs

    A great back story. I love the way that you have drawn it all together and created something very modern from old pieces and a sense of tradition. Great work!

  2. How lucky for you to be able to observe the traditions rich in culture as they have done so for centuries, what a privilege. Wonderful interpretation of the Kuna women artwork. Well done!

  3. Wonderful! Love your idea of incorporating original antique pieces into modern design paying tribute to all these anonymus artists.

  4. quilterpaola

    Interesting introduction to your piece. How lucky you to have lived these traditions in person. Your tribute to these artists has been very successful. By mixing old and new, you have restored life and visibility to these magnificent pieces. Well done, as usual.Chapeau!

  5. What a beautiful story Els, and you are so lucky to have witnessed these traditions.
    I love the way you pay tribute to these artists while having a personal interpretation.
    Very moving piece.

  6. A wonderful combination of old and new.. I love the chief in his hammock

  7. A wonderful combination of old and new. I love the chief in his hammock

  8. An interesting story about tradition. I also love mola and have some antique works at home. love you used it in your work and the combination in the ancient story.

  9. Thank you for the story accompanying your piece. You have combined old and new to make a colourful and interesting tribute to this community.

  10. Maryte Collard

    Everything is very new to me, from the back story to the molas and the photo of original piece.
    Love the combination of old and new. I love everything about it.

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