Ana Mendieta, Emotional Artist

Emily LaBarge, The Paris Review, March 8, 2019

Emotional.

That word comes up again and again in writing about Mendieta’s work. Her art took many forms between 1967, when she began her studies at the University of Iowa, and her death in New York at thirty-six. Best known, perhaps, are the artist’s siluetas, life-size figures that the she called “earth-body works,” made in various landscapes: the muddy creek beds of Iowa; the autumn woods of upstate New York; the ancient tombs of Oaxaca; the beaches of Florida, Cuba, Mexico. These siluetas—silhouettes—were based on the artist’s body and fashioned using both additive and subtractive processes. The form might be made of flowers, berries, ice, sand, mud, sticks, shells, cloth, rocks, blood, and placed on the ground, perched aloft in an abandoned alcove, set afloat, nestled in a cave or hollow, built in tidelands where it would wash away. Or it might be incised, carved, scorched into the earth, a wall, a rock face, the air, using hands, a chisel, gunpowder, fireworks, flame, smoke.

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