JQ: So many of works weren’t necessarily meant to be exhibited as discrete artworks?
CF: What I mean to say is, because some of her work was posthumously constructed for display, we don’t know exactly what she imagined those works to be. Yes, she made everything we now look at of hers as art, but she didn’t have opportunities to exhibit all of it prior to her death. She was only 36! And she died before she had an opportunity to plan in a systematic way. She was in an economically precarious situation, and she was in a personal relationship that was very volatile.
JQ: How have you engaged with Mendieta in your own work?
CF: She has been a great influence on me, but I have not chosen to model my work on hers. Her influence has more to do with the community of artists I joined who are linked through her. I came to know all the artists she met in Cuba, as well as artists she knew in the U.S., and her cousin Kaki, who was an aesthetics professor in Havana, also became a friend. I appreciated the ways she explored her connection to the island through the symbols in her work as well. Her approach to investigating her roots was very profound.