press release

The work of critically-acclaimed artist Ana Mendieta (1948—1985) has come full circle with the Des Moines Art Center’s presentation of the most comprehensive survey to date of over 100 works by Mendieta–an American artist born in Cuba whose most formative years were spent studying at the University of Iowa in the 1970s.

Ana Mendieta: Earth Body, Sculpture and Performance 1972 – 1985 organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Smithsonian Institution and curated by Hirshhorn Deputy Director Olga Viso, opened at the Art Center on February 24 and runs through May 22, 2005.

Born in 1948 in Havana, Cuba, Mendieta fled Castro’s revolution as a 12-year-old and came to the United States in 1961 without her parents. Along with her sister, Raquelín, Mendieta was placed in an orphanage in Dubuque and subsequently lived in foster homes. She later attended the University of Iowa (1969—1977) where she participated in an experimental intermedia program that encouraged a cross discipline exchange between the visual and performing arts, as well as literature and the sciences. The artwork she produced in Iowa led to her critical recognition in the 1980s. This work included sculpture, drawings, performance, and film, focusing on the body and/or the body in the natural landscape. At her untimely death in 1985 at the age of 36, Mendieta played a critical yet under-recognized role in the land, body, and feminist art of the 1970s and 80s, which is only now coming into focus.

This exhibition includes her lesser-known performance-based works of the early 1970s made at the University of Iowa and continues with the better-known "Silueta" series, or actions in the landscape, made in Iowa and Mexico between 1973 and 1980. The show also includes the "Rupestrian" series, landscape interventions made in Cuba in 1981 that are documented in large prints and photographic etchings, as well as documentation of earthworks executed in Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Long Island, Cape Cod, and Canada in the early 1980s. In addition, the exhibition includes film, video, and sequenced slide projections that document her early performance works and time-based actions in nature. Two works from the Des Moines Art Center’s Permanent Collections are featured in the exhibition.

Prior to traveling to Des Moines, this exhibition was hosted by the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. It will conclude its tour at the Miami Art Museum, October 2, 2005 to January 15, 2006.

The exhibition is made possible by The Henry Luce Foundation, the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation, and The Judith Rothschild Foundation. Initial research was supported by Craig Robins and a Curatorial Research Fellowship from the Getty Grant Program. Additional support for the exhibition catalogue was made possible through the generosity of Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz and Isabel and Ricardo Ernst. The Des Moines Art Center’s presentation of Ana Mendieta: Earth Body, Sculpture and Performance 1972 — 1985 is made possible with support from the Principal Financial Group Foundation, Inc.


Ana Mendieta: Earth Body, Sculpture and Performance 1972–1985
Kuratorin: Olga Viso

1.7.04 - 19.9.04 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
25.2.05 - 22.5.05 Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines
2.10.05 - 15.1.06 Miami Art Museum, Miami