Ran into an incredible piece from Colombian born artist Natalia Giraldo at the Museo de Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia. I liked it so much, I had to research it as soon as I got home.
The sculpture, made of salt, sat alone in a room. It depicts the ruins of two female figures; the Virgin Mary, and Edith.
It was quite appropriate that I was seeing this sculpture just a few days after the celebration of the Dia de Las Velitas. The day celebrates Mary’s immaculate conception. This is the probably the most important aspect of Catholic lore. Without Mary as the vessel for Christ’s birth, there could be no Christianity. Mary is also the female ideal of Colombian (and some may say even Latin American) culture. As little girls, we (as I am a Latin woman and experienced this first hand) are all raised to be pure, humble, and obedient.
Edith, on the other hand represents the blind faith that is needed to believe in the religion. This is something else that is ingrained in the children of Catholic families in Colombia. Story says she was the wife of Lot who had been kind to two angels who came to their city, Sodom. Because of this kindness, the angels told Lot to take his family and flee the disaster that would befall the city, but gave them one rule…don’t look back. Edith looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt. The moral of the story here is to have blind faith and follow the rules of the church, else come to tragedy.
Giraldo’s choice of medium, salt is pretty self explanatory. It gives context to a figure that has been reduced to merely a face and two feet. It also refers back to salt’s history (check out Mark Kurlansky’s book if you want to learn more – great book.) Salt was quite valuable. It was used as currency. In Jewish culture, it also signified loyalty, purity, and commitment.
The figures are life size, making them relatable to the viewer. As a woman, I had to stop and see what happened. Why were these women destroyed, why were they in pieces. It was incredibly powerful.
Giraldo has some pictures of her work on her Facebook account, although I was unable to find a website for her. If/when I do, I’ll update here. In the mean time, if you happen to be in Medellin, go check her out.