The Cintas Foundation presented the 2009 Cintas Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts (Posthumous) to Ana Mendieta. Her sister, Raquelin Mendieta, received the award in her honor.
Ana Mendieta (Nov. 18, 1948 – Sept. 8, 1985) is recognized for her pioneering work in performance-based art and land art. In a prolific career that spanned only 13 years (1972 to 1985), Mendieta created a powerful and compelling body of work that has had a lasting legacy and inspired subsequent generations of artists around the world, including artists working inside Cuba. Today, Mendieta is considered a key figure in the histories of contemporary Cuban, Latin American and feminist art as well as in the development of performance-based art and land art.
As a Cuban exile who left her homeland in 1961 at age 12 following Castro’s revolution, Mendieta made films, photographs and sculptures rooted not only in conceptual art and in performance but also in her own passionate search for origins. She received her education in Iowa in the 1960s and moved to New York in the late 1970s. She evolved a singular approach to art making she called “earth body art,” based on her own body, or its haunting silhouette, which she integrated with the land in myriad variations.
She sought to blur boundaries between media and disciplines in her art and fused elements from Cuban history and culture with cultural references from around the globe. Her work sought the commonalities between cultures and peoples, rather than the differences. Throughout her career, Mendieta embraced her identity as well as her own hybridity as a bicultural person, yet she resisted all forms of boundaries and limiting stereotypes that culture often imposes on individuals. In this way Mendieta has served as an important touchstone to artists all over the world who navigate issues of identity.
Mendieta died tragically in 1985 at age 36 as her career was gaining momentum and she was receiving increased notoriety. The Cintas Board is immensely pleased to recognize the important contributions of this singular artist to the art of our time.