Sunday, December 9, 2007

Frida Kahlo: a Surrealist Vision of Life and Death.

Frida Kahlo's paintings depict her pain and her struggle as an artist. Her paintings portray also a profound aspect in Kahlo as a human and spiritual being. There has been controversy in whether Kahlo is a Surrealist painter or not. As the leading figure of Surrealism Andre Breton says, “Everything leads me to believe that there exists a certain point in the human mind at which life and death, the real and the imaginary, the past and the futrue, the communicable, and the incommunicable, the high and the low cease being perceived as contradiction.”*

*Breton, Andre. Surrealism and Painting. New York: Harpers & Row, 1982.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cristina Velazquez interviewed by Cecilia Nuin

Cecilia Nuin: Please talk about your background, and initial art experience.

Cristina Velazquez: I grew up in a rural town called Acalpican de Morelos, Michoacan, Mexico. I was raised in a traditional, Catholic family. My elementary teacher who was also a painter had an art influence on me. He encouraged me to continue drawing.

I migrated with my family to California when I was ten. It was a traumatic experience, and a strong cultural shock. It was hard to adjust to a new environment and a new language. Public school was different in Mexico, and here I was placed in a lower, educational level. Later, I went to Menlo Atherton High School where I had the opportunity to learn theater, and drawing. I also became the president of the Latino events.

I am the first in my family to go to the university, and I got pregnant when I was studying there. I majored in art, and I took classes in drawing, painting, papermaking, and sculpture. I studied advanced painting with Rupert Garcia, and I received a BFA with a concentration in Pictorial from San Jose State University in 2001.

CN Why do you focus in depicting the body?

CV I feel very attached to the body as a form. I work with issues that deal directly with the female body. When I saw the works of other women artists, I realized that I have many issues that relate to other women’s works. I would like to raise consciousness by working on these themes. I was struck by the work of artist Victoria May. I saw her work at the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose. I was influenced by her use of materiality -- especially organza. I have always been involved with objects, and I am interested in that sacred space for the afterlife.

CN What is your choice of materials and why?

CV Recently, I have been working in a variety of media. I learned sewing from my mother. I like to put things together by hand, and sewing them helps me get that energy flowing. I use fabrics, like organza and tulle for their transparency. Felt is thick and soft and I prefer it for sculptural work. Sometimes, it feels like clay. When I use thread, it is like if I am using a pencil to draw on fabric. Using objects associated with home allow me to get closer to what I am trying to say. So, women relate to the materials that are in front of them better.

CN How would you like to be known to your community?

CV I would like to be known as an artist that advocates for other women. It is important that we elevate the dignity and respect of women. I like the message that feminists try to work for equality. Ultimately, I see women becoming better human beings.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Knitting of Time

“Poetry returns like dawn and dusk.”
“La poesia vuelve como la aurora y el ocaso.”
Jorge Luis Borges

The Knitting of Time is an exhibition that explores the idea of phenomenology, repetition, and body imagery. This exhibit is created by Distill, a collective formed by seven contemporary artists located in different cities throughout the world. Their art ranges from two-dimensional objects to sculptural pieces, and installations.

The idea of repetition resonates in Jorge Luis Borges’ verse in Arte Poetica: “Poetry returns like dawn and dusk.” Here, Borges emphasizes that poetry is endlessly retroactive. Similarly, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s idea of habit can be linked to the idea of repetition. Merleau-Ponty uses habit as synonymous with “skill.” In Phenomenology of Perception , he advocates the connection between body and mind. For him, the mind is contingent on the body. An example of this occurs when learning to dance: the repetition of steps eventually becomes automatic. The body retraces the steps with a possibility for improvisation Just as in poetry, the artists in Distill recreate the artistic endeavor, repeating similar imagery and emotion. As a cycle of repetition, the time of creation arises at the moment of revelation when the artists improvise.

In Untitled, Amy Barillaro Visockis’ orange and pink concentric squares are formed by pieces of straws. The pyramidal construction is reminiscent of the Borgesian labyrinth -–a path that might bring to any ending. In Green and Pink Checks, straw clusters arranged in multiples of nine are rendered in a floral pattern. In Pinstripe, a layer of green and turquoise straw pieces emphasizes a serpentine quality. The artist expands on repetition through the multiplicity of labyrinthine forms, endlessly repetitive.

In Target II, Ann Chuchvara created small round shapes that recall orifices and breasts. The plastic with its baby pink reflections seems to float like sea foam. According to the artist, “It is through the use of materials that I am able to evoke bodily sensation.” Made out of mylar and eyelets, Fall is an intertwined, blooming foliage. Three vines falling from the ceiling project shadows on the adjacent wall. The stenciled, ceaseless, sinuous shapes attest to the artist’s preoccupation to build the work. Labor intensive, these cuts serve cumulatively as witnesses to the passage of time.

Tsehai Johnson’s Sample #5, porcelain white brackets contrast with an orange hairy ball. Resembling mimosa flowers, they are also akin to fallopian tubes. A trellis in Sample #6 looks like a doll’s arms and legs. In Field #4, intestinal forms hug their tentacles over contiguous walls. Echoing Chuchvara’s plant life, the vine-like growths resemble over-sized flower’s stamens. Johnson conflates the visceral quality of the body with the anthropomorphic shapes of flora.

As part of a sculptural series Rope Memory Julie Poitras Santos creates in Refrain a rope represented in paper and rubber. The hanging rope provokes an eerie feeling–-a meditation on death. The black superimposed, cut-out shapes are entangled. The serpentine quality of these elliptical shapes is reminiscent of Visockis’ works. The repetitive layering emphasizes a systematic approach, ad infinitum. In Return, she makes a rubber web, twisting like the Los Angeles freeways.

With a daily accumulation of shredded newspaper pieces in Time-space, Hrafnhildur Sugyrdardottir addresses the space-time continuum. Witch’s Tit, a circular knitted piece with a droopy nipple, alludes to the quintessential breast. White daisies populate the green carpet. Fusing the recurrent floral and body imagery, they are evocative of breasts. In this work, Sugyrdardottir alludes to a Pete Seeger’s song called Where have all the flowers gone? This is an homage to the dead of the present day war in Iraq.

For Go with the Flow, Patricia Tinajero-Baker knitted rotating circles with tape inside VHS cassettes tied to white strings. According to Tinajero-Baker, this work is inspired by the image of the timeless ripple. It serves as a metaphor for human connection. As part of the Series Landscraps and Scrapscapes, Skate Race is an installation of wooden poles with colorful crocheted tops. Above, cups and sombreros adhere to the wall. Like a palisade defining boundaries, it comments on the land encroachment in the Wild West.

Jacha Yoo’s work Untitled utilizes representations of stuffed animals like Winnie the Poo and Felix the Cat. These awaken in the viewer an odd feeling. The linearity of the box contrasts with the emptiness of the stuffed toys, but what actually heightens the ominous feeling are the cut ears attached to the box’s bottom. Removed ears allude to a feeling of alienation. Yoo’s work points to how memories of outgrown childhood dreams resurface.

The Knitting of Time demonstrates a sophisticated comment on time and repetition. Although the artists are working on this phenomenological concern, the outcome is eclectic, and inspirational. A collaboration of this kind could only be possible today due to the advances in communication in this global age. This exhibit reflects a Borgesian approach in which the different avenues taken have made possible another artistic reality.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tactica y Estrategia: Solo Mujeres Exhibition 2006

Táctica y Estrategia (Tactics & Strategies) explores the various modes of visual expression utilized by contemporary Latina artists dealing with personal and social issues. This is a different perspective of what Latin art can be: Táctica y Estrategia shatters the romantic notions, preconceived ideas and clichés surrounding Latin art. These are unexpected forms of expression, demonstrating how these women strive to develop their own art practices.

Táctica y Estrategia
Mi táctica es (My tactic is
mirarte… to look at you…)

mi táctica es (my tactic is
hablarte… to talk to you…)

© Mario Benedetti (1987)

The title of the exhibit is inspired by Uruguayan Mario Benedetti's poem of the same name. There is a saying in Spanish: “en el amor y en la guerra todo es permitido,” (in love and in war all is permitted). While in the poem, Benedetti uses the language of war, he is referring to love. This poem illustrates the approach Latina artists must follow to attain success in the art world. To accomplish one’s goals in the art scene an artist needs to develop tactics and strategies just as one does in love and war.

Highlights of the Exhibition

Patricia Tinajero-Baker’s installation is titled Landscraps and Scrap-Escape: Cosas Que Caen Entre el Cielo y el Suelo (Things That Fall Between the Sky and the Ground). Armed with discarded material, the series is composed of: Watermarks alludes to the transformation of matter and transience of time, and Body Journal focus on the quotidian evoking memories that implode past and present.

Paz de la Calzada’s installation, All that Glitters, is composed of seven pairs of legs, twenty pairs of golden shoes, and a DVD performance mapping the streets of the Mission District. Made of transparent tape, the disjointed legs set in an alternate walking position, resonating with the strange familiarity of supermodels walking on a runway. Used as a ploy, these fragile fragments representing the whole body, are rendered with a sensual artificiality.

On the other hand, Vanessa Garcia’s remake of Odalisque, painting by Orientalist French painter Ingres, points to a patriarchal time in art history when only males had the right to be artists. Besides subverting gender roles, Garcia’s tactic is to appropriate Ingres’ work to challenge female imagery as acquiescent and to address issues of race by darkening the figure’s skin color.

In Pocha Tongues, an installation made of eighteen hand blown glass pieces filled with healing herbs, Viviana Paredes tackles the discomfort of the liminality of growing up in a bilingual household. This is the state comparable to the experience of a child in a pre-language stage.

Cristina Velazquez‘s installation consists of two works: God and Untitled. Body parts such as breasts and a vulva, seemingly emanating bodily secretions, allude to issues of desire, and sexuality. In another work, La Mujer Tiene los Hijos (Woman Bears Children), a black and white dress with small hanging dolls is reminiscent of works by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

The works in the Táctica y Estrategia exhibit evoke freshness. These objects are devoid of nationalistic emblems and ubiquitous cultural iconography. These tactics attests to a wealth of ideas, numerous approaches to art making, and myriad possibilities for creativity, reflecting the fleeting moments of a fast-paced reality in contemporary society. This art exhibit reexamines the ambiguity in the familiar between a domestic setting and a public space. I would like to thank all the artists for contributing with their recent production and for making this exhibition a success.

Intimate Bodies Public Spaces

A women artists exhibition

Cecilia Nuin - curator

This women exhibition, Intimate Bodies Public Spaces, explores the concept of phenomenology. It focuses on the work of French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception. This show highlights the idea of women’s bodies moving through public spaces like the street and the gallery, and brings together works about female body with its representation, actions, and reactions. Referring to the body, Merleau-Ponty states,”Inside and outside are inseparable. The world is wholly inside and I am wholly outside myself.”1 A sense of ambiguity permeates the juxtaposition of intimate bodies against their wandering through public spaces. Eleven national and international artists participate in this exhibit, and it includes media: painting, photography, video and installation.

In her work Alice Factor, Vanessa Garcia depicts a collage made of colorful, glass beads with heavy impasto. This multi-layered work is filled with flowers which radiates like sun rays. In a lower right corner a cartoon image of Alice in Wonderland looks up. Placed in a blue bubble, Alice stands in the intimate safe haven that is home. For the artist,”Alice is the epitome of an "intimate body" confronting the be-all of "public spaces" -- the world at large.” Above a grouping of Smiley faces, and a red head pin up girl smile at the viewer. Greens, yellows, purples, and reds enhanced the rich, painterly surface. Butterflies in the upper area represent ever present change --a transformation that Alice suffers with every experience.

Rachel Hoffman mirrors the story of Alice by enacting her work in the gallery and by performing interventions in the streets of San Francisco. For Hoffman, it does not take two to Tango. At the rhythm of La Comparsita Tango, Hoffman’s video Lady Danger presents a long haired woman dancing. As the camera zooms in a tiger stuffed head sits at the crotch of the dancer. Oscillating between sensual movements and the framing of every shot, Lady Danger is an anthropomorphic vivant sculpture. According to Hoffman,”There is a tension in the movements, a lot of macho and almost masturbatory hip thrusting, which is not a characteristic of Tango.” She is provocative and thought provoking. Literally, she places her intimate being in public space challenging the viewer’s gaze. Hoffman is feline --sexual.

By downloading images from the internet, Taraneh Hemami created Streets of Tehran. Tied with black thread, this installation made of small cut out images display an array of women in different fashion. They wear from conservative black gowns to Western attire accented with blue scarves. They also wear the Chador or head scarf. Since 1979, women have been demonstrating and demanding equal rights in Tehran. Referring to this issue the artist says,”... a more silent demonstration defies the government’s strict Islamic dress code and increasingly pushes the boundary for what is accepted.” By decontextualizing these images, Hemami’s work sheds light on a subject rarely discussed by the media, and gives insight on the struggle lead by women in Iran.

Camilla Newhagen’s vellum drawing Torso delineated in a peach hue depicts a free flowing outline of the female form. A superimposed white drawing of the spinal cord contrasts with a blue bouquet framing the left corner. These delicate, pastel images convey the link between nature and the body. As Newhagen poetically puts it,”Not understanding that with time of beauty/ Comes wilting, dying and re-birthing of the body.” Relationship is a latex relief on a waxy canvas. A pair of dolls precariously placed on the lower left corner of a rectangular, yellowish canvas depict a couple in a full embrace. The dolls evoke a tenderness enhanced by their warm, and creamy texture. They seem to be falling into a void enraptured by their own passion. Engaged in lovemaking, the couple seems oblivious to the world.

In Time spells: manto y aparición, Patricia Tinajero inspired herself in the work “Unpacking my Library” by philosopher Walter Benjamin. Blue, pink, and white, rolled, static laundry sheets create a giant vulva that hangs ten feet from the ceiling. The vulva recalls the cape of a virgin goddess. By collecting on a daily basis domestic materials, Tinajero alludes to the close tie between the body, and the domestic setting. The artist attributes another meaning to the artwork by calling it shroud and apparition giving the piece a religious connotation.

Cristina Velazquez created a work called Untitled, and it is made of fabric, thread, and yarn. The fabric’s pieces are sewn with beige and off-white squares conforming a canvas. Superimposed, nine embroidered, stitched outlines, in a concentric fashion, create the shape of a vulva. Through the depiction of veils, and vaginas, she makes direct reference to woman’s taboo parts. In this manner, Velazquez brings the intimate to a public space, and what is hidden into public view. Alluding to a topographic nature, terrain is synonymous with the earth. Reminiscent of Ana Mendieta earth-body works, Velazquez equates body shapes to the earth contours.

In La consciencia de un instante de lapsus 1, a digital image with marble over plexiglas, Cristina Ferrandez depicts a woman on the ground, curled up in a fetal position --naked. The viewer is unable to see the long haired woman’s face. This work alludes to an ambiguous existential moment. While in La vulnerabilidad de la instrospeccion, a work with the same technique, a nude body nestles on the river bank in the safety of a nest built with reddish reeds. Intimate, the body, with its back towards the viewer, gives a sense of vulnerability in the ever expansive nature that surrounds it. A cloudy sky looms over, and the wide river serves as an analogy to our present life --serene, and yet tumultuous.

Aurora Meneghello in Locked, a film-still photograph, presents a woman with a naked torso against a window pane. The viewer sees her bare back and protuberances of her bony spine. In this work, Meneghello conflates the intimate space of domesticity against the borderline to an outside world represented by the window. The woman embraces herself holding her stomach with her arms. She bends forwards as if she is in excruciating pain. The protagonist seems to suffocate unable to extricate herself from the oppressive situation she is suffering. The viewer watches unable to reach out.

Paz de la Calzada’s installation titled Estrellita Jones is about beauty, and the not so attractive beauty rituals. Masks, creams, rollers, and other accroutrements are part of this installation. This work also includes photographs of de la Calzada’s self-portrait wearing blue, red, and green beauty masks respectively. She poses as Estrellita, whose name translated from Spanish means little star. The artist’s pseudonym is a hybrid and ironic comment making reference to big Hollywood stars. By changing her skin’s color, and hiding from the viewer, she alludes to body image and mascarade.

Annamarta Dostourian’s piece called Inanna is inspired in the Sumerian goddess of the same name. She is associated with the seasons, love, life, and rejuvenation. Ancient Sumer is present day Iraq. The piece is a also a homage to Iraqi people who died in the war. Made of knitted gold, and copper wire, the shining dress is flanked by two projectors. The projections of the El Mundo and Al-Ahram, a Spanish and Egyptian newspapers respectively, are part of this memorial to iraquis dead in places like Basra. By creating this work, Dostourian tackles a political issue and brings attention to hard to deal news in a poignant manner.

Similarly, Susan Garry-Lorica’s White Dress is made of a found, and foam packing, material. The chemise style dress with a belt sits across a narrow waist. The dress invokes an absent body. The chicken wire armature serves as a mannequin to the pristine, transparent dress with “pleat-like” forms. It is an armless and practically a headless piece with its tiny head recalling the Venus of Milo. In Black Stockings and Red Shoes with high heels, the artist brings sex appeal to the pieces by creating a pair of black back seam stockings. The sculpture stands for the absent legs. Slender, slinky, and delicate, the work built with painted wire mesh, adds a touch of eroticism, and the red shoes, the epitome of sexiness, with its velvety like impression, are fetishistic in quality.

The exhibition Intimate Bodies Public Spaces presents works, and ideas that range from the body, and the domestic, to the issues of space in the gallery and public settings. The works that the above eleven women artists display are subdued, and yet elegant, and a sense of cohesiveness is felt when held together in the gallery space. The pieces confront the viewer with highly politicized issues, and challenge her in a direct manner. It also bring us closer to the understanding that the separation of space between domestic, and the public is tenuous. It is this issue to which Merleau-Ponty refers to that is fraught with ambiguities. Our bodies carry intimate feelings in public spaces, and we bring back home the experiences perceived through our own bodies in the world.

Intimate Bodies Public Spaces shows from March 1 thru March 31 at Mina Dresden at 312 Valencia in San Francisco.

1 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. The Phenomenology of Perception. London:Routledge, 2003.

Anna Simson in conversation with Cecilia Nuin

Cecilia Nuín: When was the first time you did any kind of art?

Anna Simson: I was doing art from the earliest time I can remember because my father was a psychologist. He did a dissertation on children’s art, and he loved the idea that I would always make art. So, I have drawing material from that time, and he collected it. I had boxes of one line drawing, two line drawings. He saved everything.

CN: And classified them.

AS: Exactly, like a scientist. Everything had a title and a date on the back. I am talking hundreds of these.

CN: What was his name?

AS: Edward Simson. He loved art, and he was a photographer. He saw painting as the pinnacle of what you can achieve. I think, he wanted to be a painter, and he instilled that in me. I just loved drawing, and I thought it was fun. I remember having watercolors when I was very young, and I had a big pad of a beautiful paper.

CN: At what age?

AS: I was five or six. It was 16”x 20”, and I filled out the pad with all these swooshy, great watercolors. I had a joy of filling this whole thing with color and feeling the best experience ever. I loved painting, and he encouraged it completely. He wanted me when I got older to have my own art studio. He was going to build it in the backyard with a skylight, and I would put my art on the walls, and I would have my little desk that I would work at. He totally envisioned I was going to do this. And, I would go: that’s great, that sounds really fun! Another thing is, I like to organize. My childhood was chaotic. I think is fairly normal for kids with chaotic upbringing to try to reorganize their lives to make sense of it. I loved decorating, and creating order out of chaos. A lot of times, for dinner, he would make a big salad. After washing the lettuce, and cutting the carrots, I would pick flowers, not necessarily edible, to decorate the salad. So, when presented it was beautiful. And the cucumber, and carrot slices were a perfect layout. The flowers decorated the top of it. It was almost like a cake.

CN: Where did you lived?

AS: My parents split when I was three. Mom lived in Salinas with my grandparents, but I was mostly with my father in Monterey. My mom taught bilingual education.

CN: So, she was a teacher.

AS: My father got sick, and from the time I was nine to eleven I don’t have a have a clear memory of what happened. I lived in Salinas, and when he got better, and I lived in Monterey. Then, he passed away when I turned eleven. So, mom moved in with me.

CN: So, you always lived in the same house?

AS: Pretty much. I spent time in Hawaii. As he got ill, he wanted to spend more time there. It’s warm, and was good for his health. I would always go with him. We had family friends that we visited. I came back speaking pidgin English, and I fit in because I would tan. I would come back looking a little bit more Hawaiian. I felt I would fit in wherever I was, because being half and half you become empathetic to people who are not necessarily of the same culture -- who are displaced. You have an understanding of having two places and separate worlds. My father was white with blonde hair and blue eyes. My mother is Mexican, and my father was Estonian, and they had nothing in common.

CN: So, did you have a formal art education?

AS: I had art activities in elementary school, like making candles, and dolls. My grandmother is a seamstress, and she made her own clothes. She was unbelievably beautiful when she was young. She still has a sense that if she goes out, she says, “I have to have a certain dress on.” She dropped out in first grade to help her family, but she can make anything. She is not literate, yet everything is oral in her home. She was always making things with her hands -- food, and clothes. That is something I felt drawn to as well. I was usually into her scissors, buttons, and fabrics. She is 81, and she still makes her own clothes. When I go to her house, I see that it looks like my house. The stacks of fabric are up to the ceiling, the stacks of buttons, and the sewing machine.

CN: So, what happened after that?

AS: I took a couple of art classes in high school like drawing and ceramics. I did not see myself as an artist so much, I saw myself as a writer. I graduated a year early, and at seventeen I was able to go to UC Berkeley because they have scholarships for kids who could not afford school which is fantastic! I was there for five years, and I took a figure drawing class at night from the UC extension program. Once a week, I would come home after drawing for three hours with a natural high. It was the first time I was able to create my own sense of happiness. I found that I could do that through drawing. I had influential teachers who tried to give me confidence. In some ways, I had a teacher who gave me more confidence that I knew what to do with. I got my degree, but after school I did not know where to go. I was not an art star, and I did not make cool art. I felt hang up on what the subject of my art was.

CN: So, you finished then...

AS: Yes, I graduated with a Bachelor in the Practice of Art and Printmaking in 1999. I was always doing art like sewing, collage, and book art. In 2002, I began to do printmaking in Grafica at Mission Cultural Center. I made a decision to push myself and do my own art. I felt I was missing something in my life.

CN: So, you kept doing more printmaking.

AS: I love the printmaking process. You can gain confidence in so many steps. I see myself now more as a painter than as a printmaker. I have a deep love for color. I find through mono-print a more satisfying medium. It’s fun. I do sewing as a side project, and I see a relationship in the sewing and the printmaking. Formally, when sewing I am composing the same way as on paper.

CN: I see the structure. The way you divide space on the paper that is very similar to cutting and putting together these pieces of fabric when you are making the pillows.

AS: Yes, it is very similar. On the paper, I do more detailed work because I add silkscreen, and photos that are harder to replicate. My work on paper, I want it to be invested with a story -- something that has meaning. With the fabric, I am more relax about it. I go, whatever, it’s just a pillow. I use beautiful material people would not necessarily buy for themselves, but I like that they are so decadent, silk, velvet, and gold. Most people don’t think I am worth such a pillow, but I think, you are worth this pillow, have one. It’s playful, it’s fun.

CN: So, what kind of printmaking are you doing lately?

AS: Lately, I am doing layered work using stencils. I was working with Native American bead patterns. It is from an embroidered, warrior breast plate. I pulled the individual pieces out, and I played with the design. This is symbolic of an under-layered strata of Native American culture -- what the United States in founded on. There are all these pieces missing, and all these stories untold, and all this damage. The conquering of the United States, and all over Latin America has this underlaying damage. How you can still read the design even with all the pieces missing. How can you make something that is damaged still be beautiful. That is like life...

CN: So, what are working on right now?
AS: I have a series of prints that are cityscapes. I sit with a body of work for a year that I meditate upon -- until it tells me what to do. I take photographs of the urban landscape around San Francisco. Then, I make them into silhouettes, and I silkscreen them above an abstract layer of painting. So, there is a juxtaposition between the specific plate, and its background. They are my comments of what I like about the city.

CN: I think that would be a nice title: “Urban Landscapes” What do you think?

AS: That is what I think this body of works is because I want it to be real, and to have an element of magic, like magical realism in Latin American literature and Gabriel García Márquez. I also wanted them to be a little bit happy, because so much art is so sad, and devoid of color. It’s like a sin to make anything joyful.

CN: Let’s make it happy, then...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Traces of Water and Earth: After Ana Mendieta's impressions


Huellas del Agua y la Tierra

Inspired by the life and earth-body works made by Cuban-American artist Ana Mendieta, I invited seven artists to participate on June 20th 2004 to an one-day art event that took place at the beach in Pacifica. Ana Mendieta used her own body on a series of about 200 silhouettes to develop her art practice. She in turn was inspired by the Taino culture and Yoruban religion. In search of her own place of origin, Cuba, she studied the history of the natives populating the Caribbean Islands at the time of Christopher Columbus arrival.

Mendieta felt inspired by the mythology and religious practices developed by the Tainos. They worshipped gods and goddesses that were nature itself. The natural elements such as water, wind, fire and earth are represented in Mendieta’s works. She used natural materials such as fire, water, rocks, shells, and gunpowder in her earth – body works. She had a preference for working in caves and at the edge of the beach were water met land. Mendieta was interested in the idea of enthropy as the works changed by erosion. Caves represented not only the womb, but they were also a site of humankind emergence in ancient pre-Columbian mythology.  The caves also served as protective spaces for the natives fleeing the Spaniards and as a place of worship.

Below, the artists who initially participated in the project and produced works of ephemeral nature.
Josefina Jacquin-Bates Andrea Calderon Caleb Duarte
Mariana Garibay R. Marina Perez-Wong