In 1980, Ana Mendieta returned to Cuba for the first time since her exile in 1961. She visited the island seven times between then and 1983, working as a tour guide for the Cuban Cultural Circle. During that time she reconnected with the culture firsthand and made connections between artists living in the U.S. and Cuba. Her Esculturas Rupestres (Rupestrian Sculptures) was made in Jaruco Park outside of Havana. The low relief sculptures that resembled petroglyphs, were influenced by Mendieta’s interest in the indigenous Taíno people of Cuba. Part of the process of preparing for this series was researching and building an understanding of the Taíno’s creation stories.
Untitled (Guanaroca: First Woman), 1981
In these two examples of some of the relief sculptures she created in the caves at the Jaruco Park, Mendieta pays tribute to the goddesses of Taíno creation stories. Their appearance suggests they were executed pre-contact, not by a contemporary artist. Art of the past is made just as relevant and important in this instance.