Petrona Viera, La Costura, date unknown. Oil on Canvas. Museo Juan Zorrilla de San Martin, Uruguay.
Despite the lack of representation in the art historical canon, Petrona Viera is considered the first professional female artist in Uruguay and one of the dominating figures of the Uruguayan movement, Planismo. Deaf, due to a childhood contraction of Meningitis, Viera learned from private tutors throughout her adolescence. Under the guidance of artists Vincent Puig and Guillermo Laborde, Viera’s undeniable talent propelled her into a professional art career. Viera was greatly influenced by Laborde, a founding member of Planismo—a movement characterized by flat planes of color and interlocking geometric shapes to convey landscapes. Although differing from her tutor in subject matter, Viera celebrated the mundane by exploring domestic life through the lens of Planismo. At twenty-five, she began exhibiting her paintings and, within three years, she held her first solo exhibition. In her later career, Viera dabbled in various mediums including watercolors, engraving, and ceramics. Her contribution to Uruguayan art solidified her as a trailblazing figure which is deserving, if nothing else, of recognition and celebration.
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