S+ Stimulant: Paños
The word paño (Spanish for cloth or handkerchief) has come to mean the art form itself; a Paño is a ball point pen or colored pencil drawing on a handkerchief.
Scholars have yet to determine the origin of paño art, but some believe that it emerged in the 1940s among Chicano prisoners in the southwestern United States who drew on the handkerchiefs or torn bed sheets. Today paño art is associated with Chicano inmates around the country, both male and female, who neatly fold paños into envelopes and mail them to loved ones.
Paño artists take much of their imagery and inspiration from the larger visual arts vocabulary of Chicano art conspicuous in murals, posters, low rider cars, graffiti, and tattoos.
[source: Museum of International Folk Art]
Many of these creative inmates have expressed that this art has helped them to explore and calm their negative feelings, to exorcise images that have haunted them, and to tame their violent urges.
We like the idea of using whatever is at hand to express yourself. It doesn’t have to be traditional materials under traditional circumstances. Next time you’re feeling tension, try grabbing whatever is within arm’s reach, who knows…you might just create a whole new art form.
S+ suggested viewing: The documentary Paño Arte: Images from Inside
For those of you in Paris: An exhibition of Paños opens March 8th 6-9pm at Galerie Christian Berst in the Marais.
Published: March 4th, 2014