Collection 1980s–Present

Cecilia Vicuña. Siembra: decirle sí a la hembra (Sowing Is Yes To Female) from the series AMAzone Palabrarmas. 1978

Ink and pencil on paper, sheet: 8 1/2 × 11" (21.6 × 27.9 cm). Latin American and Caribbean Fund, Modern Women's Fund, gift of Agnes Gund, Amalia Amoedo, María Luisa Ferré Rangel (in honor of Cyril Meduña) and Juan Yarur Torres (in honor of Amalia Amoedo)

Cecilia Vicuña: My name is Cecilia Vicuña. I'm a poet and artist from Chile. Amazone Palabrarmas is a set of 28 drawings I created after a journey I took to the Amazon rainforest in the year 1978.

I was in love with the way of drawing glyphs that the ancient artists used, which seemed to be like an unbroken line that danced, communicating its meanings. I suddenly had this vision and I saw an indigenous girl flying and I could see that she was a word. I immediately began to draw this vision in the glyph style.

The title is a sort of wordplay. “Ama” in Spanish means love; and “zone” is the zone of love. The girl that I saw is a vision of language as love, a vision of the Amazon as a place of wisdom. The second part of the title, “Palabrarma” means, in Spanish, a word that is a weapon. I believe that the power of words could be to enhance life, support life and love, or to kill it.

I love a drawing in the group that, in Spanish, it says, “siembra.” Siembra means “please plant.” But if you open it up, it means sí, hembra. It is saying, “yes, woman.” So to plant is to say yes to the feminine, to the life force of this earth.

When I first crossed the Amazon, I felt it was the most beautiful, majestic place on earth. It took thousands of years for this forest to be created, and now, in just a couple of decades, we are destroying it. So I'm very glad that this work is coming back to this exhibition for people to reflect on how we're all taking part in this destruction, and how, if we were able to change our ways and get back to loving the earth, everything would change so fast.