Regina Vater’s work was infused with the sacred symbols and mythologies of many cultures, and especially with the African and Amerindian traditions of her native country, Brazil. For Vater, art is a form of ritual with the power to address societal ills. Vater believes artists in contemporary society could function as curandeiras, or medicine women, with the ability and responsibility to contribute to the healing of our society.
The installation was inspired in part by the ground drawings of Afro-Brazilian medicine men, Tibetan sand paintings, and Navaho drawings. Vater used seeds, grains, and healing plants in her installation, which combined the image of the Jaguar’s eye and the universal mystical symbol of the spiral. In the Amazon, shamans are said to transform into jaguars, “those who see in the night.” Vater wished to share the fire of the jaguar’s eyes with her audience, to enable a clarity of vision to effect cultural transformation. The spiral in her work referred to the ascending and descending journey of the soul.
In her work, Vater follows the syncretic Brazilian cultural traditions, formalized by 1920s manifesto Antropofagia Brasiliera, that recognized the profound intermingling of European, African, and Amerindian influences. Vater continued this process by incorporating the techniques of healing and protection of the African American folk communities of North America.