Guanbancex [Goddess of the Wind], from the Rupestrian Sculptures Series
18.1 cm x 25.4 cm (7 1/8 in. x 10 in.)
(Havana, Cuba, 1948 - 1985, New York City)
Latin America, Cuban
Medium and Support:
Photo-etching on chine collé
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Purchase through the generosity of The Judith Rothschild Foundation and the Michener Acquisitions Fund, 1999
Ana Mendieta’s pioneering artworks investigate identity, memory, and cultural history. Born in Havana, Mendieta was sent to the United States at the age of thirteen in the wake of the Cuban revolution. Raised in foster homes, she moved to New York in 1978 after college and quickly became an active member of the feminist and Conceptual art circles there. Before her untimely death, she produced a body of radically intimate and highly influential performance-based works.
Often site-specific and ephemeral, Mendieta’s works are known primarily through photographic documentation. Created during her first trip back to Cuba, the ten works in the Rupestrian Sculptures series (of which the museum owns six) record a series of wall carvings that she made in some remote caves outside Havana. Simple but vital images depict goddess figures drawn from the mythology of the Taínos, the native inhabitants of the island. Immersing herself in her studies of this displaced culture, Mendieta selected a number of documentary photographs of these works from which to make photo etchings, which she combined with a personal text in a limited edition volume. Published posthumously, the project echoes an essential theme in all of Mendieta’s work: the equivalence of the female body and the earth as timeless sources of life.