Mola | Diego

Diego is a well known artist who sells Mola’s in the Balboa neighborhood of Panama City, Panama in a cooperativa artisan market operated by the Guna Yala tribe, sometimes spelled Kuna Yala.  The market is on Calle Balboa in a barn-like structure called Centro Nacional de Artesanias.  The Kuna Yala are from the comarca (semi-autonomous territory) on the northeast Caribbean coast of Panama between the canal and Colombia. Diego is arguably the best-known mola designer and artist today. He specializes in the traditional geometric patterns and animals such as thunderbirds that reflect the paleolithic artwork from the pre-Colombian era. Diego is gay but traditional Guna Yala society has a very different world view than the Western world and cultural concepts are not always an exact walk across; what we would call gay or straight are both considered perfectly normal in the Guna Yala, so there’s not the concept of it being something different or as an “other”. There’s no difference in the interpretation of the art of their world-view because of their belief in the normalcy of all preferences, so unlike western culture, one won’t find any cultural politics in their art. Molas are constructed as fabric appliqué where each color is on the same level and there is a great deal of detail to express the art and their society–animals, fish, birds, abstract designs, etc.

Diego Molla


by Diego
VillaDuCarl Art Collection | Portland, Oregon
Quilted Fabric  2011
13 3/4″ x 12 1/4″
Purchased 2011

Purchased at  –  Mercado Nacional de Artesanias, Panama City, Panama


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