Born in Havana in 1948, Ana Mendieta was sent out of Cuba at the age of twelve as part of Operation Peter Pan--an exodus involving more than 14,000 children initiated by the Catholic Church and the U.S. government. Mendieta earned an MA in Painting and an MFA in Intermedia at the University of Iowa, and soon established herself as one of the island's foremost conceptual artists in the diaspora.
Ana Mendieta is remembered for her feminist art practice, for the combination of fragility and strength in her work, her experimentation with artistic media and performance, and her emblematic archetypal iconography. Integrating performance as a central element in her art, she created earth-body forms and ritualistic performances, which she documented in photographs, video, and film. Articulating her feminist vision in projects such as the Silhueta Series, Mendieta created what she termed earth-body art by burning, carving, or drawing female forms and anthropomorphic shapes into the earth; outlining her contour with organic materials such as flowers, leaves, or blood; and inscribing her body into soft surfaces such as sand and mud.
Mendieta used her own body as subject and media, Olga M. Viso writes; the naked female form inserted in nature became a hallmark of her artistic production, and her performances...often involved interjecting the performing female body into nature in order to forge links with an ancestral past and present.
|Ana Mendieta, Isla, 1981/1994.|
Black and white photograph , 101.6 x 76.2 cm, Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection
Ana Mendieta's sculptural performances and ephemeral earth-body art reflected her interest in pre-Colombian iconography, indigenous and Afro-Caribbean beliefs and practices, and trans-cultural archetypes as she explored issues of gender, violence, and culture; death, regeneration and transformation; and woman's spiritual and physical connection with the environment. "I have been carrying on a dialogue between the landscape and the female body (based on my silhouette)," Mendieta observed, "I am overwhelmed by the feeling of having been cast from the womb (nature). Through my earth/body sculptures I become one with the earth...I become an extension of nature and nature becomes an extension of my body."
Ana Mendieta will long be remembered as one of Cuba's most innovative contemporary artists. woman.embodied is dedicated in her memory.