For many decades, artists have conveyed their opinions and advocated for their rights through their creations. The artist this paper presents is Ana Mendieta, a Cuban-American woman known for her outstanding installations and performances. One of the major themes her work is related to is the body in art. Mendieta used her body to advocate for women’s rights, address objectification, and outline the connection between the female body and nature. At the same time, her art related to the Second Wave of the feminist movement and was created within its political context. This paper argues that the theme of the body in art is crucial for delivering messages related to political and societal issues.
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Ana Mendieta’s Art
Ana Mendieta was a notable woman known for her performances aimed at highlighting the issues that were important to her. She was a Cuban-born American artist famous for her Earth art, practices of Santeria, and installations (Baker, 2016). The primary themes of her works included femininity, the questions of exile and nationality, and the aspects of Latin American cultures (Wanderley, 2017).
One of the techniques Mendieta used in her art is delivering her message through her body. For instance, she used the reprint of her body in video and photos and took pictures of her naked body in outdoor locations (DeWitte, Larmann, & Shields, 2018). Moreover, Mendieta utilized materials associated with the Earth, such as flowers or rocks, to fill in the silhouette of her body. It is possible to say that the body and its connection with nature was a large part of the woman’s art, as she used it to represent strength and nourishment.
Photography was one of the primary means Mendieta used for conveying her ideas. For her, it could be a way to ensure that her creative actions would be preserved and understood in the future (Wanderley, 2017). Moreover, she took pictures of her performances, aiming at recording them for the coming generations. It is possible to say that Mendieta chose photography as a mean of conveying her ideas because it could actualize the meaning of her art at any time.
It is possible to say that the artist wanted to affect not only society of her time, but also the people that would analyze her art in the later decades. It was significant for her to reflect on the struggles women had in her works and tell future generations about them.
It is possible to say that Mendieta selected the theme used in her works to convey her perspectives and advocate for her values. The woman lived during the Second Wave of feminism, which affected her viewpoints and inspired her art. McKenzie (2016) reports that, at that time, feminists tried to reclaim the female body from being perceived as a fetishized passive object in the patriarchal view.
Mendieta placed her body in natural environments because she wanted to align women and nature in her works (McKenzie, 2016). As a result, the artist’s works were considered essentializing; they revealed a connection with society’s matriarchal past. One of the primary ideas Mendieta’s art implied was that if one day patriarchy began, it could also come to an end (McKenzie, 2016). It is possible to say that the woman used her body to advocate for all women’s ones.
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It is evident that Mendieta’s works were created in the time when making art was associated with political engagement. At that period, artists advocated for their rights and personal freedoms through creative interventions, including the ones that involved the body (Wanderley, 2017). Installations and performances were common because they allowed creative people to convey their ideas in ways that many people could understand. Moreover, many individuals at that time participated in promoting women’s rights, trying to challenge the social roles imposed on the gender and eliminate objectification of female bodies.
Mendieta highlighted the significance of women’s bodies and their connection with nature, noting that her works allow her to “reestablish the bonds binding her with the Universe” (Wanderley, 2017, p. 320). Her art can also be seen as a sign that she refused to attach herself with any identity, including ethnic and national ones. Thus, in a way, Mendieta’s works were aimed at reflecting the political and societal aspects of the artist’s life and society at that time.
Ana Mendieta is one of the most notable artists of her time. One of the significant themes she presented was the significance of the body in art. Mendieta’s works reveal that the woman strived to address the issues that challenged society of her time, including those related to feminism, women’s rights, and the perceptions of the female body. The artist’s creations involved the use of reprints of her body, pictures in outdoor locations, installations, and performances. Her works implied that women’s bodies are closely related to nature. This paper revealed that this theme in art is significant for addressing the issues of political and societal contexts, as it allows creative individuals to express their ideas through their bodies.
DeWitte, D., Larmann, R. M., & Shields, M. K. (2018). Gateways to art (3rd ed.). London, England: Thames & Hudson.
Baker, E. A. (2016). To be magic: The art of Ana Mendieta through an ecofeminist lens. Web.
McKenzie, L. (2016). Women in unity: Re-imaging the female body in art. eTropic, 15(1), 123-141.
Wanderley, O. D. C. L. (2017). “Neither here nor there”: Traces of the feminine in the photoperformances of Ana Mendieta. Comunicação e Sociedade, 32, 319-330.