Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ana Mendieta

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Ana Mendieta (18 November 19488 September 1985) was a Cuban American artist famous for her performance art and video works.

Mendieta was born in Havana, Cuba but moved to the United States at a young age. At 13, she and her older sister were exiled from Cuba because her family opposed the revolutionary government. They were placed in foster care in Iowa through Operation Peter Pan run by the U.S. government. She studied in the Intermedia Area of The University of Iowa in the late 1960s. Her life in Iowa City included a few years teaching art at Henry Sabin Elementary School in the mid-1970s.

"Ana was a wonderful art teacher at Henry Sabin and I remember the love of art that she instilled in us (her students). I can remember clearly an art class in 1974 where she took delight in showing us how to create art stamps from blocks of linoleum. I also remember her insistence that the Helen Reddy song, "I am woman" be played during a school presentation. She made a lasting impression on me. -Daniel Brennan

Much of Mendieta's work had a feminist political message. She made an abrupt change to performance art in 1972 and most of her interventions, performance pieces and cine films were made between 1972 and 1978. A common theme in her performance art was violence against the female body. She often went for the shock factor in representing sexual abuse and many of her performances involved significant quantities of animal blood.

Later Mendieta moved on to leaving her mark on the environment, most particularly in her silueta pieces which typically involved carving her imprint into sand or mud, making body prints or painting her outline or silhouette onto a wall.

She died on 8 September 1985 in New York falling from a 34th floor apartment in Greenwich Village. Eight months earlier Mendieta had married the minimalist sculptor Carl Andre. Andre was tried and acquitted of her murder - during the trial he described her death as suicide.

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