Belkis Ayón (b. Havana, January 23, 1967 – September 11, 1999) was an Afro-Cuban artist and lithographer. Her works were directly tied to Cuban culture and Afro-Cuban religion as they intersected with gender.
According to the private foundation which now manages her estate:
The Abakuá religion and Secret Society (originating in Calabar in Nigeria, and established in Cuba since the nineteenth century), served the artist as a source and reference point for constructing a wider argument against exclusion, frustration, fear, censure, impotence and in favor of the search for freedom. This secret society, created by males and for males, stigmatizes and segregates females, and in turn maintains a strict discipline and an unassailable code of honour and mystery. Belkis penetrated the ritual space as much as she was allowed to, with respect and sensitivity, and studied all the sources of information within her reach. As a result, she created an impressive iconography, interpreting the religious myth from the standpoint of a black Latin female artist of the late twentieth century.