Al Día: Chilean Artist Creates Art in Philadelphia

Jacqueline Unanue showed her creations.

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Jacqueline Unanue is a Chilean artist who creates art influenced by her ancestors, research and exploration that she has gathered throughout the years.

Unanue was born in Chile and recently became a nationalized citizen of Spain. She inherited the status from her father.

She dived into visual arts at Universidad de Chile de Valparaiso when her native city, surroundings and professors motivated her to expand on her creativity.

The art she creates is heavily focused on artisanal craft and Pre-Colombian art, something she learned in the early years of her college career.

She considers herself a graphic and textile contemporary artist who is very influenced by the images of rock art. She also traveled to Spain where she studied the renowned Cave of Altamira in the Basque country.

Jacqueline Unanue explained the influence of Pre-Colombian art in her creations.
Jacqueline Unanue explained the influence of Pre-Colombian art in her creations.

Her crafts are usually in a palette that echoes earth colors with a touch of blues from the water, and sky. Primal elements and geometric shapes allow her to take her dream images and bring them to life.

Unanue remembers the early days when she started to create fiber art, which prompted her to evolve into a full-time artist. “Me and my sister started to make artisanal clothing and knitting by hand inspired in pre-Colombian art, and each piece we created was like an art masterpiece,” said Unanue.

Some of her paintings can be seen as a modern interpretations of the pictographic language that she saw while traveling all throughout Chile’s deserts. The carved art and writings that were painted thousands of years ago is one of the main elements in her creations.

Martha Ledger is a close friend and writer. She shared how she has seen the journey of Unanue’s evolution throughout the years: how her personality and energy have grown along with her art. “I think her personality is really expansive. It’s got kind of a cosmic feel to it, the way her art does. She’s very open to new experiences, open to people and very optimistic about things, such as is her art.”

1983 marks the fist time Unanue started to exhibit her art all over Chile. She presented her paintings in places like El Museo de Bellas Artes de Santiago, Chile and galleries all over the country.

After that, the artist branched out and presented her work all throughout South America in countries like Argentina and Ecuador. She also branched out to Spain. This year marks the 30th anniversary since her first exhibit.

Jacqueline Unanue, Ricardo Guajardo, and Martha Ledger talked about the upcoming trip to Spain.
Jacqueline Unanue, Ricardo Guajardo and Martha Ledger talked about the upcoming trip to Spain.

In April 15 of 2000, Unanue moved to the U.S. with the hopes of bringing new life to her art.

“Arriving in the U.S. was very impacting for me. This country has been an excellent outlet for my art, but my first year was rough. I stayed in a parenthesis without knowing what to do. In a lot of aspects, it was a huge impact on my life,” said Unanue.

The artist struggled at the beginning of her stay in the U.S. This prompted her to change the way in which she looked at her craft, “It wasn’t until my husband took me to an art store and bought everything from fabrics, to paints, and tools and I said ‘I’m so glad you’re going to start painting again!’ and he said ‘No, you are!’ and since then, I haven’t stopped,” said Unanue.

Unanue spent the next three years painting and searching for a new way to express her art through a new way. When she found what she was looking for, she went out and found a gallery in Philadelphia that invited her to exhibit her creations.

That was the first time Unanue’s art was show cased in the U.S. Throughout the years, she has shown been featured in galleries in Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia.

Jacqueline Unanue talked about her inspiration for "The Inner Codes."
Jacqueline Unanue talked about her inspiration for “The Inner Codes.”

Unanue’s latest collection is titled “The Inner Codes” and is based on calligraphic painting. According to the artist, the process of creating these series is very “spontaneous.” The paintings are mainly in acrylic paint over fabric.

The collection was last exhibited at the Third Street Gallery in Philadelphia, where Unanue is a full-time member. “Being part of this gallery has been something very important to me as a person and artist. We share our concerns and analyze and discuss our art,” said Unanue.

The artist is traveling to finish up contracts with galleries in Barcelona and Paris, where she will be exhibiting her art in 2014.

Unanue’s roots are originally from the Basque country. A part of her family moved to Chile when Spain took over in the 1800s. She is a mother of two, and currently lives in West Philadelphia with her Husband.

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For more information on Jacqueline Unanue and her art, please visit

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