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Art HERstory: Ana Mendieta


Photo of Ana Mendieta

Photo of Ana Mendieta

Sometimes the most beautiful life forms emerge from the darkest of situations. People often dismiss their issues and sweep the under the rug that reads “Product of My Environment.” I think that’s a total crock. Some of the most successful and influential people in history came from humble beginnings. Ana Mendieta is one such person. She didn’t let her childhood predetermine the path her life would take. She took things into her own hands and became a true rose that grew from concrete.

A photo from Ana's "Glass on Body Imprints" series (1972). The serious was actually really cute. Its consists of photos of Ana with different parts of her body pressed against glass. This picture was my favorite!

A photo from Ana's "Glass on Body Imprints" series (1972). The series was actually really cute. It consisted of photos of Ana with different parts of her body pressed against glass. This picture was my favorite!

Ana was born in Havana, Cuba on November 18, 1948, but moved to the United States in her early teens. At the age of 13 Ana and her older sister were exiled from Cuba because the Mendieta family refused to conform to the ways or the revolutionary government. The two young girls ended up in Iowa where they spent their teen years in foster care.

Once I saw this photo I automatically thought of the Cuban Revolution that occurred around the time Ana and her sister were exiled from their country. Extremely moving image.

Once I saw this photo I automatically thought of the Cuban Revolution that occurred around the time Ana and her sister were exiled from their country. Extremely moving image.

Somehow Ana managed to leave the past in the past and made it into college. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1963 and later earned a Master or Arts in Painting and a Master of Fine Arts in Intermedia.

"Arbol de la Vida / Tree of Life" (1976). Nature and woman. Two reporducers of life in their natural, exposed state.

"Arbol de la Vida / Tree of Life" (1976). Nature and woman. Two reporducers of life in their natural, exposed state.

Ana’s artistic side began to dominate her life in the 1970s when she began the bulk of her work. Much of her art was influenced by her life in Cuba. The themes of death, rebirth, and spiritual transformation are prevalent in almost all of her works. She was also very in tune with nature and had immense respect for the female body and women in general.

"La Concha de la Venus" (1982).  One of Ana's sculptures honoring the woman. Its completely hand sculpted from clay.

"La Concha de la Venus" (1982). One of Ana's sculptures honoring the woman. Its completely hand sculpted from clay.

“I have been carrying on a dialogue between the landscape and the female body (based on my own silhouette)… 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…”

"Imagen de Yagul." This image is from Ana's "Silueta" works in Mexico from 1973-1977. This collection consisted of Ana finding various ways to recreate or cover the female silouette with natural decoration.

"Imagen de Yagul." This image is from Ana's "Silueta" works in Mexico from 1973-1977. This collection consisted of Ana finding various ways to recreate or cover the female silouette with natural decoration.

Over the next 14 years, Ana worked like a madwoman. She created over 70 films and videotapes that captured her in her true essence, in her comfort zone of performance and artistic creation. Her photographs, drawings, and sculptures infused all aspects of art. They are almost poetry in tangible form.

"Body Tracks" (1974). This series of paintings is one of Ana's most popular. Its a series of 6 photos that were taken right after one another as Ana slid her paint covered hands down a wall. Pretty dope actually!

"Body Tracks" (1974). This series of paintings is one of Ana's most popular. Its a series of 6 photos that were taken right after one another as Ana slid her paint covered hands down a wall. Pretty dope actually!

Ana’s departure from life was just as tragic as her childhood. She dies on September 8, 1985 from a fall from her 34th floor apartment in Greenwich Village. The only other person in the apartment at the time was Ana’s husband of 8 months, Carl Andre. Andre was later tried and acquitted of her murder. Andre and his lawyer both claim the fall was an accident/successful suicide attempt. *e-eye roll* Yeah right. Ana’s estate is now managed by Galerie Leong in NYC.

Image Layouts: Phaymiss


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