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Mola Art and Aesthetics among the Guna People

05/09/2020 @ 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM PDT


Photo: Visit centro America

Mola Art and Aesthetics Among the Guna People 
Unique Native American Art from Panama




The Guna, a native American culture from the lowland tropics of eastern Panama, are caretakers of one of the most extensive remaining rain forests in Panama.   Guna women have, for many years, sewed molas, multilayer reverse appliqué cloth panels for their blouses.   Guna mola textile art is breathtakingly beautiful. 




This talk presents the visual power of mola art as one of the most evocative and transcendent indigenous art forms.  The Guna women’s ability to transform any visual image that she may come in contact with into iconic art that can be worn as blouse panels represent a personal statement of a highly evolved and sophisticated visual aesthetic.   The mola tells endless stories of life … whether they be traditional myths, shimmering geometric designs, natural motifs of plants and animals of the ocean, sky or rain forest or designs derived from commercial advertisements or television.




The Guna have conscientiously adopted certain aspects of western culture while successfully maintaining  much of traditional culture and beliefs.   The talk briefly discusses how this strategy has conserved mola art that is very much alive and well today in a contemporary world where many authentic indigenous art forms have unfortunately been lost.   Even the casual observer cannot help but be impressed with the incredible range of the human imagination represented by the Guna woman’s unique and vibrant aesthetic representation of their world.













By Bill Harp, Cultural Anthropologist, Coclé, Republic of Panama

Bill is a technologist, cultural anthropologist and a geospatial analyst who has worked as a cultural anthropologist in Panama. During his time in Panama he conducted research among the Emberá people in eastern Panama and subsequently earned his MA in Anthropology from the University of Oregon where he specialized in the ecology and cosmology of tropical lowland, indigenous cultures of the new world. 

Bill and his wife, Susan, alternate between their country homesteads in Coclé, Panama and North Idaho where they maintain subsistence gardens and orchards.




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10:00 AM - 11:00 AM PDT




Jes Stannard
Chantal Jager

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