As a printmaker, I think in impressions. Prints are impressions of the maker’s manipulation of a surface. Prints are memories.

I have been drawn to Ana Mendieta’s Silueta Works in Mexico, pigmented inkjet prints of photographs of the artist’s body covered in natural materials or impressed in the earth, since I first encountered them on view in First Light: A Decade of Collecting at the ICA in 2016. I spent the first hour of every morning with the Silueta series as a Visitor Assistant and I am grateful to revisit them again in Beyond Infinity: Contemporary Art After Kusama.

Ana Mendieta’s impressions of her body in the earth, themselves prints made over forty years ago, have almost certainly been erased from the land. These impressions have been preserved as photographs and then printed decades later, framed, and hung in the gallery. While looking at these familiar works, I straighten my fingers with my arms at my side, mimicking the artist’s position. I raise my arms above my head and bend my elbows, imaging the feeling of being buried by the earth or covered in flowers. I see my silhouette reflected in the glass as a contemporary echo of Mendieta’s movement.

Prints are memories linking the artist’s physical touch to the contemporary viewer, distorted and removed from their origin by the indirect process of the press—or in case of Silueta Works in Mexico the camera and the inkjet printer. As the viewer, I am simultaneously connected to Ana Mendieta but distanced by space, time, and the photographic process. The Silueta series is an impression of the artist’s body in space, a memory of her presence.

Emily Mogavero started at the ICA as a Visitor Assistant in 2016 and currently manages visitor surveys and outreach as Marketing Associate for audience development. She is also a painter/printmaker whose work explores history, portraiture, and abstraction.

Friday Art Notes are personal reflections on works of art shown or in the permanent collection of the ICA, written by ICA staff, volunteers, and supporters. Read more