Ana Mendieta and Earth Art Favorite 



Apr 20 2018


Across United States

The works of Ana Mendieta tells a story of the power of the body and the earth, and methods of activism.


Have you ever caught a still moment in nature where it's so eerily calm, it feels as if there’s a spiritual presence lingering? In Iowa and Mexico, that presence could very likely be the haunting legacy of Cuban performance artist, Ana Mendieta, who fervently used landscapes in these cities to pioneer the earth art (also known as land art) movement in 1970s-80s America.

Earth art is any piece of work that is created directly in the landscape, sculpting the artwork into the land itself, or making new structures with natural materials like rocks, twigs, leaves, and so on. It started as a movement in the 1960s after the heavy commercialisation of the art industry saw many young artists fleeing the studio in favour of the liberated land.

By the 1970s, Mendieta had harnessed the movement within her artistic trajectory. Across her 15 year career, she produced over 200 works using the land as her sculptural medium, especially in her most well-known series, Siluetta (1973-80), where she moulded her body into different terrains in Iowa and Mexico to emphasise the inextricable link between mother nature and the human form. And Mendieta’s legacy goes far beyond earth art. Within each Silueta one can find layers upon layers of commentary on equality between humans, the inevitable cycles between life and death, and the assertion of mother earth as an omnipresent female force. Her earthwork sculptures echoed the complexities of art as a reflection of life as both a woman and an ethnic outsider in 1970s-80s America.

Beyond land art, Mendieta synthesised art movements of the decade, including performance art, conceptualism, body art, and installation. Her earliest works used a cross-medium format to address the repressive state of being a woman in the 1970s, using performance and film to address domestic violence and male degradation of the female body.

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