With her Earth-body Art, Cuban-American artist Ana Mendieta created a language that escaped the common narrative of her time. During the sixties and seventies, the postmodern narrative influenced artists to find a sense of meaning within a larger global context. A common theme for artists was the idea that modern society had been imprisoned by the technology that intended to liberate. Often this theme was explored using nature as a medium.
Instead of a universal consideration of nature and its dichotomous function in opposition to an imposing technological globalization, Mendieta uses the natural landscape in her search for identity. With her forest carvings, earth body sculptures, and bird women, Mendieta physically attempts to reconnect to the land, elements, and sacred animals. This impulse stems from her feelings of exile and displacement from her homeland of Cuba. With these works, Mendieta leaves the context of the modern world and revives the visual language of Afro-Cuban Santeria and Catholicism, while translating these icons into her own postmodern language. In this paper I will look at three works by Mendieta, Bird Woman, Bird Run, and Blood and Feathers, and examine them as examples of spiritual transformation in her oeuvre. With these works Mendieta searches for her identity in a foreign land by reviving primordial forms of ancient goddesses, using art as a vehicle for spiritual catharsis, and investigating blood and sacrifice as symbols of feminine agency.
Abigail Pedersen, ’10 Mundelein, IL
Majors: History, Art and Art History
Sponsor: Sarah Clunis