Ofrenda: Liliana Wilson's Art of Dissidence and Dreams

Ofrenda: Liliana Wilson's Art of Dissidence and Dreams

Ofrenda: Liliana Wilson's Art of Dissidence and Dreams

Ofrenda: Liliana Wilson's Art of Dissidence and Dreams


Liliana Wilson's art of resistance and protest, dissidence and dreams, consistently calls attention to injustice.

Wilson belongs to a group of Chilean artists who were intimately shaped by the political turmoil and repression in Chile in the 1970s and 1980s and who have become self-exiled artists working outside of Chile but who are still tied to the political period and to its issues and concerns.

From a working class family that struggled financially, Wilson nonetheless was able to study law, which facilitated her successful immigration to the United States in 1977. She moved to Texas and in Austin found a cultural oasis that permitted her art to blossom.

Now, after some thirty years of artistic work in Texas, she is recognized as a major Latina artist, whose influence extends beyond US borders. A crusader for justice and against oppression, she paints and draws in various media and has become an inspiration for younger artists concerned with not only political repression and inequality but also individual fear and despair.

Ofrenda: Liliana Wilson's Art of Dissidence and Dreams highlights some of Wilson's most representative works, accompanied by biographical background and scholarly interpretation.


Liliana Wilson is unique in the world of Latino art. As a native of Chile, she represents a small minority among a rising and dynamic Latino population. Latinos represent many cultures and ethnicities, but in demographic terms Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans are the dominant groups. Wilson developed artistically during the 1970s and 1980s, living in Chile during a time of unprecedented political repression and social turmoil. Although she has now lived in the United States for more than thirty years, many of her artistic interpretations are influenced by those two decades of authoritarian dictatorship in her homeland. To fully understand the context and themes of her work, one must have an understanding of Chilean history and culture.

Liliana Wilson’s birthplace is a land of contrasts, a country of sharp difference in space and geography. the Chilean landscape has shaped the society and history of the nation. in the North, the area is dominated by the Atacama Desert, where peasants toil in isolated communities. the long seacoast and excellent harbors of Valparaíso, where Wilson was born, provided accessibility for transnational commerce. in the center of the country, Chileans created their breadbasket, raising enough cattle, wheat, and wine to export to other nations. in the extreme South, the harsh arctic weather marks another isolated hinterland. Chileans maintained contact with Europe and North America via the Pacific Ocean. Air travel in the twentieth century opened Chile to commerce, art, and literary influences from Europe and the United States. Chilean artists also looked to Mexico for inspiration. a famous collaboration between the Chilean Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda and the great Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros demonstrated the vast influence of Chilean writers on Mexican artists. To illustrate one of Neruda’s most famous books, Canto General, Siqueiros traveled to Santiago de Chile to absorb its culture and traditions. For one edition of Neruda’s masterpiece, Siqueiros prepared a series of lithographs dominated by powerful landscapes depicting the forces of nature.

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