Belkis Ayón. Untitled (Sikán with White Tips), 1993. Collagraph. 37 x 25 inches. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, gift of Louise Sunshine © Belkis Ayón Estate, Havana, Cuba
Belkis Ayón specialized in collography, a printmaking technique that involves collaging materials and objects onto a wooden or metal plate to create a variety of textures that are transferred onto the image. Her work revolves around Abakuá, an all-male Afro-Cuban religious association or fraternity known for its intricate mythology, which is passed on through secret rituals and a complex lexicon of distinctive symbols. One of Ayón’s main themes is the myth of Princess Sikán, who is punished by death for breaking an imposed vow of silence. Manifest through the motif of the mouthless female figure, this symbol introduces an undercurrent of female resistance against patriarchal violence and oppression into Ayón’s work.