For these works, Mendieta used fireworks to set wooden effigies of her outline ablaze in a clearing in Oaxaca, Mexico. The flames light up the night sky, asserting her presence and power, before the figures collapse into a pile of ash. Leaving only photographic and film evidence behind, this feminist approach to earth art acknowledges human transience in the face of ecological time.
Using her body and natural materials, Mendieta created unforgettable yet fleeting interventions in sites from Iowa to Mexico to Cuba. Her best known series, Silueta, depicts her nude body or traced silhouette in natural environments, evoking ancient goddesses, fertility symbols and rituals borrowed from Catholicism, Caribbean santería, and pre-Columbian indigenous cultures around the world. Mendieta came to the United States in 1961 as part of wave of unaccompanied child refugees transported from Cuba by the Catholic Church. Mendieta spent her high school, college, and graduate school years in Iowa and her art continually addresses dislocation from and reconnection to the land.
- 1976, printed 1977
- sheet, image and mount: 13 1⁄2 x 20 in. (34.3 x 50.8 cm.)
© 1976, Estate of Ana Mendieta
- Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool and the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program
- Mediums Description
- chromogenic print
- Landscape – Mexico – Oaxaca
- Modern art movement – installation exterior – Mexico
- Modern art movement – performance
- Object Number
- Linked Open Data
- Linked Open Data URI