This article introduces the first translation of the text “Ñandutí: Crossroads of Two Worlds” by Josefina Plá, pioneer of Paraguayan art and literature. The text offers an overview of this figure's life and politics, in the context of the development of Paraguayan modernism in the 1950s and in the early years of General Alfredo Stroessner's military dictatorship (1954–1989). Particularly, I address her involvement in the First Week of Paraguayan Modern Art as co-founder of the Arte Nuevo group and the close relationship with peers like Olga Blinder and Livio Abramo. Plá's historical study of Ñandutí - lace is typically made by Guaranì women and emblematic of Paraguayan craft - bear particular relevance to the ambitions of Paraguayan modernists. Ñandutí has contested origins between the European and the Indigenous – identities that Paraguayan modernists sought to remap.

The excerpt translated hereafter comes from a foundational historical study tracing the genealogy and significance of ñandutí lace, also known as Paraguay lace. The text, by influential artist and writer Josefina Plá (190399), was published in the 1983 book El Ñandutí,1 alongside an additional essay by Gustavo González; this book was among the first to historicize the lace and focus on the significance of its copious motifs and mythological derivation.2 The volume focused on the history and making of ñandutí, which, Plá writes, “due to its characteristics[,] could be described as ‘national’.” Translated as “spider white” or “spider web” from Guaraní, ñandutí is widely known to have arrived in Paraguay from the Canary Islands and been taught to Guaraní women in Jesuit reductions.3

Ñandutí lace from the collection of El Museo del Barro, Asunción. Image courtesy of the Centro de Artes Visuales/Museo del Barro.

Ñandutí lace from the collection of El Museo del Barro, Asunción. Image courtesy of the Centro de Artes Visuales/Museo del Barro.

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Besides its historical value, this text, published during Alfredo Stroessner's military rule (1954–89), sheds light on how ñandutí acts as a vector into the cultural complexity of Paraguay's national identity, which is informed by the mestizaje of Indigenous (particularly Guaraní) and colonial heritage appropriated and weaponized within populist politics.4 In fact, within the nationalist rhetoric of Stroessnerismo, ñandutí was symbolic of patriotism. For example, the regime published the Serie Ñandutí, a didactic series of educational handbooks produced by the Ministry of Education and Worship. The manuals offered methodological suggestions for teachers to stimulate patriotism and the formation of a national consciousness in students.5 The lace was an emblem of national craftsmanship meant to crystalize Paraguayan identity into an anodyne archetype that played within the stillness of populism, defined by Ticio Escobar as thriving on a persistent denial of difference, conflict, and contradiction.6 The Stroessner regime's understanding of Guaraní culture as ornamental to, as opposed to a constituent of, Paraguayan culture is also exemplified by the fact that Guaraní was only recognized as an official language in 1992, after the country's return to democracy.

Soon after settling in Paraguay from her native Canary Islands, Plá became an avid scholar of Indigenous culture and learned Guaraní. Her application of Spanish and Guaraní bilingualism would go on to distinguish her poetry and fiction.7 Born out of such studies, Plá's inquiry into ñandutí distills her efforts, alongside those of multiple figures in the Paraguayan cultural milieu, to destabilize a singular and homogeneous understanding of national identity.8El Ñandutí, in fact, was published by the Museo Paraguayo del Arte Contemporáneo in Asunción.9 Dating the museum's earliest iteration to 1972, the institution was established thanks to the collective efforts of prominent figures including Escobar, Ysanne Gayet, Olga Blinder, Carlos Colombino, and Osvaldo Salerno, who have worked tirelessly to institutionalize Indigenous art on a par with what Escobar terms erudite art or “critical-illustrated tradition.”10 By retracing the contested and nebulous history of ñandutí in this text, Plá calls into question the existence of a homogeneous mestizaje (foundational to nationalist discourse) that harmoniously combines European hegemonic culture with Indigenous heritage.

In addition to this vital aspect of Plá's work, which in many ways anticipates contemporary decolonial debates that critique and reject mestizaje, her foremost concern was the role and social condition of women in Paraguayan society.11 She had reached Paraguay by boat from the Canary Islands, following her marriage (by proxy) in 1927 to foremost ceramicist Andres Campos Cervéra, who created art under the name Julián de la Herrería. Upon her arrival to Paraguay, she found a context largely averse to women in power (suffrage was only granted in 1961).12 Despite women being generally excluded from high-ranking positions in the cultural and political sectors, Plá went on to lead some significant cultural projects in the country: among these, she became the first female director of one of the city's foremost newspapers, El Liberal (prior to the military dictatorship), and cofounded the Arte Nuevo Group.13

The following section of this introduction serves to locate Plá's study of ñandutí within debates regarding the birth of modern art in the mid-20th century in Asunción. Plá's work built on many of her peers' concerns with mestizo-Guaraní and with Indigenous culture more broadly. Blinder and Lívio Abramo used ñandutí as a recurrent motif in their oeuvres in ways that set their work apart from the Indigenist approaches that also characterized modern art movements across the continent. Shared references to ñandutí, understood through its contested sociocultural location, underscore a collective attempt to recognize the Guaraní woman specifically within a space of sorrow and subalternity, antagonistic to the neutral images of mestizaje promulgated by the regime.

Plá began experimenting with woodblock printing as early as the 1920s, working under the pseudonym Abel de la Cruz,14 while she was also director of ceramics at the Centro Cultural Paraguayo-Americano, between 1946 and 1952.15 The print Burreras (1928) depicts two women riding donkeys (burros) to sell their milk and produce in a rural setting. Already in this early work, it is evident how the labor and way of life of rural communities of Indigenous descent holds vital meaning for Plá. She chose woodblock printing—perhaps among the least sophisticated of the printing media—to express her nascent ideas around modernism. Plá also worked with ceramics, learning from Julián de la Herrería, whose style engaged “indigenous iconography or rural scenes in a dialogue with local and popular traditions.”16

Modern art movements across the continent were characterized by the entwining of the Indigenous and the modernist. Take, for example, the Indigenismo movement in Peru. Artists such as José Sabogal endorsed the political representation of Indigenous groups by portraying scenes of Indigenous life through the visual lexicon of European modernism. The resulting imagery, often depicting peasant life in rural landscapes with particular attention to dress and ritual habits, divorced its subjects from social conflict and technology in such way that it excluded the possibility of their political agency. Notable among the critics of Indigenismo is Mirko Lauer, who has stated that “Indigenismo (as always, in the eyes of the dominant) is the natural state for this continent, the immutable fact against which modernity is to be valued.”17 He recognizes that the Indigenist ideological project is substantive of modernity in Latin America and that it failed to account for the agency of the Indigenous subject. With a slightly different trajectory than that of Indigenismo, Plá and others in Paraguay worked to reveal a vision of Indigenous subalternity that would attend to the “specific characteristics” that Lauer sees as irrelevant within “the visual arts of the [Indigenist criollo] bourgeoisie,” which instead promoted harmonious and nonconflictual depictions of Indigenous life.18

Because Plá and her peers belonged to the dominant class, it remains problematic to consider their work as wholly separate from an Indigenist tradition. But their efforts to highlight inequality and to refute the homogenizing notions of nationalism later consolidated during Stroessnerismo are central to this distinction. There is a further nuance to Plá's engagement with indigeneity. While her reliance on Indigenous (mainly Guaraní or Payaguá) subjects and themes is undeniable, her understanding of indigeneity in Paraguay was informed by the rhetoric of mestizaje constructed by the literary generations before her. As historian Peter Lambert puts it, the literary group known as the Generación del '900 sought to “restore a sense of pride, identity and direction to a nation devastated by war and developed the idea of the raza guaraní, a founding myth of common ancestry and of common ethnic community.”19 This led to a mystification of mestizaje that caused the Guaraní to lose their singular roots in Indigenous culture and to instead become representative of the Paraguayan mestizo above all else. Therefore, Plá's use of Indigenous themes is further separated from the traditional Indigenist project, which is concerned with mestizaje as a force in the definition of Paraguayan identity, as opposed to having a concern for Indigenous identity alone.

After her husband's untimely death in 1937, Plá continued to promote his legacy and became an increasingly active participant in the Paraguayan art world. In 1952 she wrote what she considered to be equivalent to the first manifesto of Paraguayan Modern Art.20 This text appeared in the catalog of the first solo exhibition of Blinder, who was described as one of the “most active dissidents” of the cultural scene.21 Plá's text appeared alongside that of Paraguay-based Brazilian artist João Rossi, who wrote about the relationship between the “new” and the “old,” which he saw as inextricably linked by a universal imperative to “transpose the limits of the existing.”22 In turn, Plá reflected on the meaning of contemporaneity, alluding to the “renovating path” of art, akin to that of science.23 Plá's involvement in the arts intensified when in 1953 she was invited to exhibit a selection of de la Herrería's ceramic work alongside her own and José Laterza Parodi's at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo; these works were received positively by the press.24

The year 1954 witnessed an important series of events: unmarried women and widows for the first time acquired a framework for legal rights, and General Alfredo Stroessner, head of the Colorado Party, led a military coup that ended democratic government for thirty-five years. In parallel, the Arte Nuevo Group, cofounded by Plá, Blinder, Lilí del Mónico, and Laterza Parodi, jolted Asunción with the First Week of Paraguayan Modern Art—an exhibition installed in store windows of Asunción's central Calle Palma.25 The exhibition also featured the work of Mariano Grotovsky, Edith Jiménez, Joel Filcirtiga, and Ruth Fisher; in time, the group included more than twenty artists.26 Arte Nuevo marked the desire to establish art as a meaningful form of expression for Paraguayan identity, which the artists were assured was not a reiteration of European tendencies. Plá wrote copiously about Arte Nuevo, historicizing the group's collective intent, its main actors, and its genealogy (where we read her largely discrediting the originality or interest of any of their artistic predecessors in Paraguay). Even in her writing about Arte Nuevo, which she characterized as being propelled by the “virus of dissidence,” Plá underlined the fundamental role of the women artists comprising the majority of the group.27

In her account of the First Week, she recalled how the exhibition had been an “unabridged version of the torture of the pillory.”28 According to Plá, the audience did not have the intellectual background to engage with modern art, which she thought was why the exhibition was derided by many. The most “successful jokes” made in the press involved a donkey whose tail was equipped with a paintbrush soaked in color, which, as it waved its tail to scatter the flies surrounding it, painted a “magnificent picture, the purest informal abstraction.” While describing the event as a “real act of heroism,” she continued on to explain that “the audacity of our early modern artists was quite moderate,” considering the fifty-year delay in developing what she termed a “universal artistic modernity.”29

The effects of the First Week may have been overemphasized, judging from the evidence of the vast criticism it attracted and the fact that it was historicized mainly by its participants. Nevertheless, the 1950s saw acute transformations in Asunción's art scene, in part thanks to the role of the Brazilian Cultural Mission, which was a diplomatic initiative by Brazil aimed at fostering cultural bonds with its “client states,” which included Paraguay.30 A key actor within the Cultural Mission was Brazilian modernist printmaker Lívio Abramo. In 1956 he founded a printing workshop named after Julián de la Herrería, which he directed with Blinder.

The work made by the Arte Nuevo artists in the 1950s and 1960s speaks loudly about the issues they were confronting. In fact, Plá's research into Indigenous heritage translated into her art making, which was in constant dialogue with the work of Laterza Parodi, Blinder, and Abramo. Incidentally, for the latter two artists, ñandutí became a focal point too.

Some of the first images Abramo produced when visiting Paraguay in the mid-1950s represent ñandutí, which almost becomes the organizing principle of his vision of nature, architecture, and culture in the country. In 1959 he was involved in organizing the show of ñandutí lace at the 5th São Paulo Biennial, and at the following edition he organized Paraguay's exhibition with art created by Indigenous artists at Jesuit reductions.32 In woodblock prints such as Festa (1954), ñandutí is a compositional centerpiece, which characterizes the titular reference to the religious festivals and rituals that take place in Paraguay. These festivals are often grand displays of how Indigenous and Paraguayan cultures weave together. Brazilian critic Mário Pedrosa poignantly argued that “as far as we know, [Abramo] was the first to transpose the subject of class struggle onto wood engraving.”33 In fact, ñandutí, which was commonly made by Guaraní women, was almost metonymic of Paraguay's social fiber, where women—particularly those of Indigenous descent— occupied a subaltern position.

Livio Abramo. Untitled, 1954. Woodblock print on paper, 36 × 30.5 cm. Image courtesy of Almeida Dale, São Paulo. Photograph by Sergio Guerini.

Livio Abramo. Untitled, 1954. Woodblock print on paper, 36 × 30.5 cm. Image courtesy of Almeida Dale, São Paulo. Photograph by Sergio Guerini.

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One of Plá's foremost subjects throughout her practice was the role and social condition of women in Paraguayan society, where they were largely excluded from public life, even as they heroically carried the burden of rebuilding the country throughout the early 20 th century, after the disastrous defeat in the War of the Triple Alliance (1864–70) wiped out 90 percent of its adult male population.33 Drawing from this context, Plá wrote: “I identify myself with the disinheritance and resignation of Paraguayan women, with the orphanhood and nakedness of their girls, young mothers, little flowers on the road. All accounts in my stories are real…. The idea of the forgotten or erased woman is almost always present.”34

Olga Blinder. ÑandutÍ III, 1961. Woodblock print, 32 × 41 cm. © Essex Collection of Art from Latin America.

Olga Blinder. ÑandutÍ III, 1961. Woodblock print, 32 × 41 cm. © Essex Collection of Art from Latin America.

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A reflection on the social role of women is also visible in Blinder's 1960s woodblock print series dedicated to ñandutí. In Ñandutí III (1961), Blinder depicts three women working together on this lace, which fills the negative space of the composition, becoming the connecting fiber between them. Not incidentally, in the mythology around ñandutí that Plá describes in the text translated here, as well as in the Greek myth of Arachne, the protagonists die or are muted for their trespasses. In much of her work, Blinder dedicated herself to the portrayal of archetypes of femininity, like of mothers embracing their children, and of laborers. In this case, too, the women represented are working women, with their gazes turned to their craft, adopting an overall subdued and nonconfrontational posture. As Abramo expressed her subjects: “Deeply concerned with the human condition, Olga Blinder has chosen the human face as the mirror in which all human comedy and drama are reflected.”35

While the images presented are ones of submission, they can also be understood as portraits of women's creative labor and agency in a political context that hesitated to support women and that only granted universal suffrage in 1961, the same year in which this print was made. Blinder sought to reflect on the anguish of women in Paraguay and to activate a process of reconceptualizing their role, starting with the recognition of their suffering and labor.36 As has been further elaborated by curator Gabriela Salgado, Blinder's work “distances itself from the pro-Indigenist approaches common in the continent's art in the modern period. This work gains complexity by producing a synthesis of Amerindian traditions and European motifs and visual strategies.”37 In other words, instead of offering an idealized vision of what Guaraní-descended and -speaking women's lives might be, Blinder's work portrays the reality of lived experience, devoid of romanticism, yet expressed with modernist aesthetic devices.

What Giovanna Minardi writes about Plá's female heroines is also relevant here. Minardi explains how Plá's “[female literary creations] remain subject to a principle of immobility…. In this environment there is no room for the possibility of escape, no rebellion against the status quo, no fraternity, nor suggestion of it. The woman appears as the main victim of this irreversible process of punishment and dispossession.”38 While many forms of activism dwell on enunciation and rebellion, both Blinder's and Plá's female heroines remain immobile, oppressed, and/or enveloped in silence. The artists' insistence on offering disenfranchised interpretations of Guaraní women actively counters a nationalist glorification of mestizaje and simultaneously invokes the reconfiguration (in progress) of women's histories and collective identity.

Through this artistic production, we begin to make out how ñandutí worked as a symbol of creative agency and being in the world, and not just the formalization of a crafted union between Indigenous and European heritage. As Annick Sanjurjo, a prominent scholar in the field of ñandutí, has pointed out, the motifs of this lace are continually changing and have multiple points of geographic origin.39 In cataloging and decoding the ñandutí motifs, scholars have connected patterns and imagery with certain events and objects in women's day-to-day lives. Symbols in the lace range from flowers and medicinal plants to animals—not hunted animals, but those that offer service, such as milk cows, wool lambs, and transport oxen. Sanjurjo poignantly adds that many of the motifs do not solely represent the physical world but also capture the realm of feelings. In this way, ñandutí can be understood as a medium for the creation of metaphors, which construct a language made of symbols and references that are always in becoming.

Because Guaraní is widely spoken but not as widely written, ñandutí provides an alternative form of language that emerges from the silent labor of its makers. A review of Sanjurjo's controversial 1978 documentary Ñandutí Lace of Paraguay pointed out: “The lace embroidery craft is carried out, here, by Paraguayan women who do not open their mouths to speak, by women whose names and villages are not provided, … no Spanish or Guaraní is heard. This is art for art's sake; the artists-as-persons are left out.”40 While the anonymity of the women portrayed, as in the woodblock prints by Blinder, can be seen as an act of erasure and disrespect toward their individuality, the emphasis here shifts from the individual to the act of making. As theorist Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui argues—echoing Rossana Barragán's study of women in Bolivia, which is applicable here—self-determination may occur through symbolic and gestural processes, outside of discursive frameworks.41 This alternative kind of identity formation, through making and not through discursive language, allows new collective identities to rise with respect to singular subject positions.

Because ñandutí has occupied a vastly contested and contradictory historical space, numerous artists to this day use it to capture different aspects of Paraguayan culture, those rooted in horrific violence and personal trauma as well as those emphasizing harmony and heroism. In the 1990s, Feliciano Centurión, who has risen to posthumous international attention, often applied ñandutí to his signature market-bought blankets—symbols of shelter and fragility—that he would paint and embroider with imagery reminiscent of his homeland. Another key example lies with Claudia Casarino. Her works, often made of historically charged fabrics (including ñandutí, burlap, or aopoí), weaponized traditional materials to bring forth silent and institutionalized histories of violence, particularly against women. The artistic and historiographic genealogies traced here reveal how the craft of ñandutí entered Paraguay's art discourse, to deepen a definition of national identity and also to counter processes of homogenization.

The division between art and craft has been a subject of academic writing and exhibition practice in Paraguay since the 1980s. Rather than simply eroding the difference between art and craft, key thinkers such as Ticio Escobar have used this debate to renegotiate an identity in which Indigenous culture is not cast in a subaltern position. He poignantly writes:

Nationalism casts on history a Medussian stare, a blanket of lava that petrifies the actors and their practices or turns them into monuments. The works are reified, the specific becomes typical; the proper, folkloric. This is a good mechanism to trivialize popular expression and deactivate its possible political springs, reducing it to a silly and corny version of itself and turning it into a harmless and domesticated merchandise, a picturesque handicraft.42

In this way, Escobar explains the effects of nationalism, which neutralizes the critical discourse around Indigenous identity and cultural production.

“Ñandutí: Crossroads of Two Worlds” offers a detailed and at times humorous account of the emergence and cultural significance of this craft, which we have seen appear as a strategic symbol in the works of multiple artists struggling to reconcile certain strident inequalities that persist in their county's national history. Ñandutí indeed intersects multiple worlds: the colonial, through its alleged origins in the Canary Islands; the Indigenous, through the ample mythology built around it; the female, through the sex of its makers; the nationalist, through its weaponization by the government to erect the myth of a shared origin; and the mestizo, through its embodiment of the coexistence of contradictory legacies. Plá's choice to focus on ñandutí brings to light these many contradictions, and above all, the craft's capacity for expressing the creative agency of Guaraní women.


Gustavo González and Josefina Plá, El Ñandutí (Asunción: Cuadernos de Divulgación/ Museo Paraguayo de Arte Contemporaneo, 1983).


Gustavo González, “Ñandutí,” in Suplemento Antropológico de la Revista del Ateneo Paraguayo, 1966, [accessed 22 April 2024],


The word reductions refers specifically to communities of Guaraní people formed by Jesuits since the 17th century in the Provincia Paraguaria (modern-day Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, and Argentina); however, the term is often used interchangeably with “missions,” also established by Franciscans in the area.


Paraguay has over twenty ethnicities belonging to five separate linguistic families.


There is no way to overemphasize the ubiquity of ñandutí in poetry, song writing, and artistic production in Paraguay, as well as in Argentina, Brazil, and Peru. Ñandutí gave its name to a radio station that was heavily censored and then purged by the Stroessner regime in the mid-1980s, as well as to Ñandutí Vive, a newspaper library and publishing house.


Ticio Escobar, El mito del arte y el mito del pueblo: Cuestiones sobre arte popular (Buenos Aires: Ariel, 2014), 91–92.


She was commended by her peers for succeeding in joining “by popular hybridization, [the] lexicon and syntax of both national languages.” Francisco Pérez Maricevich, Cronicas del Paraguay (1969), quoted in Giovanna Minardi, “Josefina Plá: Una Voz a Recuperar,” Letras Femeninas 24, no. 1–2 (Spring-Autumn 1998): 157–72, 162. Josefina Plá remained attached to her Canarian roots, which has raised questions about her role as a European intellectual adopting a paternalistic stance when disseminating her studies on Indigenous culture. For an examination of this debate, see Minardi, “Josefina Plá.”


See Bruna Reis Afonso, “Representations of the History of the Guerra de la Triple Alianza in the Stroessner Regime,” Revista Latino-Americana de História 6, no. i8 (August-December 2017): 57.


Today part of the Museo del Barro.


Escobar, El mito del arte, 93. The Museo del Barro now boasts impressive holdings of ñandutí and art dating from the precolonial period to the present day. It also holds cyclical contemporary art exhibitions, effectively straddling art and craft. With its programming and acquisitions, the museum has strived to challenge and reconfigure the dynamics that determine the categorization and valuation of art.


For scholars such as Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, mestizaje denies the preponderance and enduring hegemony of European culture. See Rivera Cusicanqui, Violencias (re)encubiertas en Bolivia (La Paz: Editorial Piedra Rota, 2010); Rivera Cusicanqui, “Ch'ixinakax utxiwa: A Reflection on the Practices and Discourses of Decolonization,” in Key Texts for Latin American Sociology, ed. Fernanda Beigel (Los Angeles: Sage, 20i9).


In recalling her journey to Paraguay, Plá compared herself, remarkably, to a female Christopher Columbus: “And I crossed the Ocean, like Columbus, with this dream in tow. A dream as big as a new land for a woman; a dream identified with a world of endless love.” Quoted in Angeles Mateo del Pino, “Sellando itinerarios: Género y narración en Josefina Plá” (Ediciones de las Mujeres no. 3i, Isis Internacional, Santiago de Chile, 200i), 66.


Arte Nuevo was a loose collective, mostly comprising women, who launched the First Week of Paraguayan Modern Art in 1954.


It is curious that Plá would adopt a male pseudonym. While I have not found evidence as to why, speculation could bring us to hypothesize that, by using it, she intended to avoid a conflict of interest with her husband's work, or that Plá maintained a degree of separation between her literary and artistic work. I maintain reservations that her adoption of a male name was caused by a gender issue within the art scene, as this would be incongruous with her self-affirmation as an author and cultural figure.


Visit Rosanna López Vera, “Biografia: Josefina (Abel de la Cruz) Plá,” [Accessed 22 April 2024]


Charles Quevedo, “The Brazilian Cultural Mission and the Arte Nuevo Group: A Regional Dispute for Cultural Hegemony and Paraguayan Modern Art,” Artelogie 15 (2020): 10, See also María Amalia García, “Hegemonies and Models of Cultural Modernization in South America: The Paraguay-Brazil Case,” ARTMargins 3, no. 2 (2014).


Mirko Lauer, “Issues in Popular Art,” in Beyond the Fantastic: Contemporary Art Criticism from Latin America, ed. Gerardo Mosquera (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; London: Institute of International Visual Arts, 1996), 77.


Ibid., 78.


See Peter Lambert, “History, Identity, and Paraguayidad,” in Paraguay Reader, ed. Peter Lambert and Andrew Nickson (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013), 385–93.


Josefina Plá, “Arte Contemporaneo,” in Olga Blinder, exhibition catalog (Asunción: Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano, 1952), reprinted in Josefina Plá, Olga Blinder, and Ticio Escobar, Arte actual en el Paraguay, 1900–1980: Antecedentes y desarrollo del proceso en las artes plásticas: Textos (Asunción: Ediciones IDAP, 1983), 133–34. For a characterization of Paraguay's artistic context between the War of the Triple Alliance and the beginning of the Stroessner dictatorship. See also Ticio Escobar, “Paraguay,” in Latin American Art in the Twentieth Century, ed. Edward J. Sullivan (London: Phaidon, 1996) 250–53.


Plá, “Grupo Arte Nuevo: Genesis, Obra y Significado,” in Plá, Blinder, and Escobar, Arte actual, 24.


João Rossi, “Arte Contemporáneo,” reprinted in Plá, Blinder, and Escobar, Arte actual, 132.


Josefina Plá, “Arte Contemporáneo,” reprinted in Plá, Blinder, and Escobar, Arte actual, 133.


Quevedo, “The Brazilian Cultural Mission,” 10. This exhibition was just months before the opening of the II São Paulo Biennial, where critics denounced the “lamentable conceptive poverty of Paraguayan art.” See Miguel Angel Fernández, Art in Latin America Today: Paraguay (Washington, DC: Organization of American States, 1969), reprinted in Spanish in Plá, Blinder, and Escobar, Arte actual, 147.


While I have not yet encountered specific accounts describing the works on display during the First Week of Paraguayan Modern Art, in an article published the same year, Plá paid homage to the work of three of her peers. She described the paining of Olga Blinder as being able to transcend the “academic molds” of Paraguay. She lauds the ability of Lilí del Mónico's painting to “capture and systematize what the native femininity contains in terms of rhythm and color.” Finally, she ambiguously describes Edith Jiménez's “landscaping vocation” as “transformed without betraying itself.” See Josefina Plá, “El Movimiento Renovador en nuestra Pintura,” reprinted in Plá, Blinder, and Escobar, Arte actual, 137–39.


For an overview of the artistic genealogy that led to the Arte Nuevo Group, see Ticio Escobar, “Parallel Modernities: Notes on Artistic Modernity in the Southern Cone of Latin America. The Case of Paraguay,” trans. Hilary Macartney, Art in Translation 3, no. 1 (2011): 87–120.


Plá, “Grupo Arte Nuevo,” 25.


Ibid., 28.


A concern for universalism is among the most problematic issues present in Plá's writing about Arte Nuevo. Incidentally, as is pointed out by Quevedo, the First Week of Paraguayan Modern Art took place on the 17 th anniversary of de la Herrerfa's death, a coincidence that marks Plá's “clear attempt to establish him as a founding father of Paraguayan modernism.” See Plá, “Grupo Arte Nuevo,” 28 and 138; Quevedo, “The Brazilian Cultural Mission,” 4.


Quevedo, “The Brazilian Cultural Mission,” 4.


See Maria Nepomuceno, Livio Abramo no Paraguai entretecendo culturas (Master's thesis, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, 2010), 129,


Mário Pedrosa, “Between the Week and the Biennials” (1973), translated in Mário Pedrosa: Primary Documents, ed. Glória Freire and Paulo Herkenhoff (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2015), 163.


The infamous War of the Triple Alliance (1864–70) saw Paraguay fighting against Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay to a horrific loss of human life. Such occurrences left the country's recovery in the hands of its women—and particularly Guaraní women—for generations, as the country continued to suffer grave losses due to continued disputes over territory, and even civil war.


Josefina Plá, La mano en la tierra (1963), quoted in Minardi, “Josefina Plá,” 163.


“Presentación del catalogo de la exposición colectiva de Hermann Guggiari, Olga Blinder y Carlos Colombino,” Misión Cultural Brasileira, September 1969, reprinted in Plá, Blinder, and Escobar, Arte actual, 152.


Because of her investment in fighting for Indigenous women's rights, Blinder was recognized by Paraguay's League of Women's Rights in 1980.


“Illuminaitng absence: A Conversation between Claudia Casarino and Gabriela Salgado,” in Claudia Casarino: Iluminando la ausencia, ed. Gabriela Salgado (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno CAAM, January 25-May 27, 2018), exhibition catalog, 43.


Minardi, “Josefina Plá,” 164–65.


Annick Sanjurjo, Ñandutí, Lace of Paraguay, trans. Albert J. Casciero (Dale, TX: Southern Cross Press, 2015).


John M. Schechter, “Review: Ñandutí: A Paraguayan Lace by Annick Sanjurjo and Albert J. Casciero,” American Anthropologist 89, no. 2 (June 1987): 528.


Rossana Barragán, “Entre polleras, lliqllas y ñañacas: Los mestizos y la emergencia de la tercera república,” in Etnicidad, economía y simbolismo en los Andes, ed. Arze, Barragán, Escobari, and Medinacelli (La Paz: 11. Congreso Internacional de Etnohistoria, Coroico, 1992), cited in Cusicanqui, Violencias, 76.


Escobar, El mito, 93.