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.
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.
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.
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.
“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…”
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.
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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