Paño is handkerchief. Many drawings in pencil or ink are created on them.
Beginning the 1930s drawings were made on fragments of bedsheets and pillowcases by residents of prisons in this country. A majority were out of the Southwest.
In both the invented prison system and the termed art programs in them, the art supplies are also invented. As a piece of 15 by 15 inch cloth may be deemed not dangerous it has been permitted in some penitentiaries during certain political administrations. The ink or pencil is another matter and often to draw you have to make do. Some ink may be from coffee grounds or from shoe polish.
To stretch and anchor the cloth for drawing, water from rice, pasta, flour or cornstarch has served with wax or glue to hold it in place.
Paños demonstrate from caricature to sophisticated metaphor traveling from historic cultural reference to specific personal story. The pieces serve as gifts to family and friends, as value exchange and general expression of experience. Some images illustrate in visuals a diary incorporating text banners in alphabet and glyph. They are pages and stills of a world imposed on a particular group.
Galleries, museums and collectors have categorized these documentations as folk art and along with those affiliated with education system as Chicano and Cholo. Although these elements figure, the paño is evidence of a carceral structure made to interrupt a peoples, the male line and family unit in this instance of Generational Local peoples from the Southwest present day United States. Beyond the compartmentalized terms the paño serves to continue the necessary consideration and address of this destructive ambience wherein some gain and others perpetually are abused to serve this inhumane business venture.
🎭 Paños held in el Museo’s permanent collection
🧑🎨 Artist unknown
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