Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Art and Design

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Richmond

Second Advisor

Dr. Kimberly Cleveland

Third Advisor

Dr. Maria Gindhart

Abstract

Artist Ana Mendieta frequently conjoined the female body with nature to express her search for personal identity and support for feminist topics. Her last intended and least scholarly examined work, La Maja de Yerba (Grass Goddess), continues specific visual and thematic elements of her previous Silueta Series (Silhouette) yet also presents an aesthetically unique creation. Despite its incompletion as a result of her premature death, the preserved maquette directly stipulates a female form to be planted in grass on the Bard College campus grounds. This alignment of women and nature garners criticism for its reliance on universalism and categorizations of women’s experiences; however, Mendieta’s use of essentialism in public art contributes to circulating feminist discourse to a wider audience. This paper considers the artistic influences, thematic concepts, and employment of strategic essentialism in Mendieta’s La Maja de Yerba.

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