Artist of the Week: Ana Mendieta

In the 1970s, Ana Mendieta introduced the world to “earth-body sculptures” through what was known as the Silueta series. These sculptures express a physical and spiritual connection between the body and earth. I thought her art was best explained by the smith college museum of art when they described her work as, “simultaneously performative and static, expressive and stoic, beautiful and haunting, autobiographic and universal.” Mendieta uses her body as a canvas and Mother Nature as her muse as a way to re-establish the relationship we have with the universe. Her first Silueta, Imagen de Yagul, portrays her naked body covered in white flowers positioned in an open tomb. At first glance the body lying within a tomb gives the illusion of death. However, the white flowers growing out of the body give the appearance of regeneration. I think the process of death and rebirth is a prominent theme seen in the Silueta series and is very relatable throughout all cultures. Mendieta’s art almost seems very primitive in concept and reminds me of the cave art we learned about. Mendieta’s work and cave art are similar in the sense that they both explore identity through ritual or a spiritual journey.

In today’s world, the concept of imposing the body among nature can often be encountered at the beach when someone has their body buried in the sand. I remember when I was little I’d always have my friends or family bury me in the sand, but I was too young to actually realize how meaningful this experience could be. As human beings, we tend to think of ourselves as superior to all, thus distancing us from nature, which we were once bound. It’s humbling every once in a while to take time in our lives to be one with our universe and appreciate what is around us.

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