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Belkis Ayón, La cena (The Supper), 1991, collagraph, 54 3/8 × 118 1/8". © Collection of the Belkis Ayón Estate.

Belkis Ayón

Fowler Museum at UCLA

Belkis Ayón, La cena (The Supper), 1991, collagraph, 54 3/8 × 118 1/8". © Collection of the Belkis Ayón Estate.

The Cuban printmaker Belkis Ayón spent the majority of her career producing print-based works that engage the mythology of La Sociedad Secreta Abakuá (the Abakuá Secret Society), an all-male religious group of African origin that exists only in Cuba. Although Ayón likely never participated in any of the ceremonies, she studied the society at length and featured its figures—particularly the central female protagonist, Sikán—prominently in her celebrated collagraph-based practice. Sikán, whose sacrifice is at the heart of the religion’s origin story, is often seen as a foil for the artist, who committed suicide at the age of thirty-two. Beginning her career in the mid-1980s, as Cuba was experiencing an economic depression born of the collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Ayón, thanks to the apparent ethnographic focus of her work, was able to evade

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