Remedios Varo, Embroidering the Mantle triptych, 1961

The triptych shows three scenes from the same story; the first painting is titled Toward the Tower and shows a group of uniformed girls being escorted from their boarding school residence by a headmistress and driver, soon to arrive at the tower seen in the main panel of the triptych. One girl shifts her gaze, indicating her rebelliousness.

In the main panel (seen above), Embroidering the Mantle, we see the girls imprisoned in the tower, forced to weave the fabric of the world into existence; the fabric flows from their workspaces out the slits in the tower wall, forming the landscape and bodies of water. Despite the watchful eye of the headmistress, the rebel girl manages to covertly weave an image of her lover into the fabric.

In the third panel titled The Escape, the rebel has escaped her captivity and fled to the mountains with her lover in an umbrella-shaped boat on the clouds. The triptych has a dystopian Handmaid’s Tale feel to it, probably reflecting Varo’s own escape from her restrictive childhood and later into the arms of her lover, Gerardo Lizarraga.

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