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Updated: Mar 13, 2022

This is a pastel drawing of a masked woman in lingerie with a white spirit emerging from her navel.
The Descension 33"x66"Pastel over Paper by Isis Rodriguez


I first discovered Ana Mendieta when I began my investigation of spiritual art in the early 2000's. The book, "Ana Mendieta Earth Body" by curator, Olga M. Viso from the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden 2004, is a haunting example of an artist who died young exploring the depths of her own spiritual desires on the banks of all places, Iowa, an agricultural state that is not typically known for being a center of art. And yet this artist thrived, creating a body of work that makes me shiver and feel my ancestors rumbling around me.

When I was developing my archetype of a masked woman, in 2007, I stumbled upon this book which sucked me into her interpretation of the modern feminine divine in relation to the ancient. Suddenly, I saw a new feminine lexicon of rituals and the divine.

At the time, I was undergoing a big shift in my life. I was a disillusioned and deeply conflicted artist living in San Francisco California who was hit hard by the recession. I desperately wanted to find peace and harmony and found myself drawing a masked woman.

This is an image of Ana Mendieta covered in mud standing against a tree.
Tree of Life by Ana Mendieta 1976

The development of this woman was based on a personal mythology in which a wounded woman protesting shame and in a process of self transformation. I was in an artist residency in Oaxaca Mexico at the time.

Death is a dark occasion in Mexico. Five hundred years ago, funerals involved burials with dogs and other items which assisted the deceased into the the "inframundo", meaning "underworld", and sometimes they were given tasks to complete, in order to ascend into the heavens. Depending on how they died, and or their status, they could automatically ascend to the heavens without even entering the underworld. It's a complex journey which fascinates me in the redefinition of spiritual art.

The white cartoon is a spirit referencing a discovery of a child like moment which is why it emerges out of her umbilicus. In this case the cartoon is also a symbol of something new and imagined.

Un detalle de "La Descensión" de Isis Rodríguez que muestra un espíritu de dibujos animados que emerge del ombligo de una mujer enmascarada en lencería.
Detalle de "The Descension", por Isis Rodriguez

Torso drawing with a spirit emerging from the navel
Detail from the pastel drawing, The Descension

The lingerie is important because it designates a historical liberation of women's sexuality and comfort. And, I will always defend that women reign in the department of beauty and aesthetics. As I have explained in my other blogs, that the darkness has little to do with style and is used conceptually to be her consciousness.

"The Descension" is available as Limited Edition Giclee Prints. The original is for sale and if you are interested, please contact me directly.

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