Last week, we visited the studio of Victoria Martinez- an interdisciplinary artist that makes mixed media ephemeral (meaning not long-lasting) collages and oh! what a lasting impression she made!
Our studio visit group this month included Ken Stewart, CEO of Rebuild Foundation, Victor Ivy, a Greater Grand Crossing graphic artist and community member and me- an Arts Bank Gallery Coordinator. We drove up to Little Village from the Bank on the first not-a-cloud-in-the-sky day of the Spring, talking about horoscopes, tacos, and Victor’s art practice. Although we had all seen Victoria’s work on her website and knew that she worked with fibers and found objects, none of us knew exactly what to expect.
We pulled up to the correct address, I snapped a few photos of the exterior and were warmly greeted by Victoria, rocking a pair of green beaded earrings and a killer haircut. She led us through the space explaining that it used to be a mattress store and was now used as an arts space in the back (the front of the building was a packed treasure trove of items, floor to ceiling.)
When we reached the sunlit back room, we found Victoria’s work (that is to say the work that was living in Chicago and not somewhere else in the world, donated to a community, mounted and walked away from in Brazil or Guatemala.)
She offered us bottles of water and talked about her travels, her public sculptures and her work with young people. Victoria showed us the books that she had made by hand and the book that she is featured in (Art Against the Law by Rebecca Zorach.) Victor asked Victoria about the hash marks that are present in many of her pieces and she talked about her love for line and how she associated hash marks with the letters she would decorate to her brother when she was younger.
Victoria’s work jumps off the walls and speaks to the viewer with its jazzy, vivacious, dance party quality. If Keith Haring was a Brown girl fiber artist- Victoria Martinez would be her!
Her commitment to ephemerality was evident as she considered where her pieces might be after she mounts them, after she walks away and donates them to a place and time. Victoria’s approach to making: with her material resourcefulness, sharp aesthetic prowess and joyful spirit of community inspired this month’s studio visit group to no end! Thank you, Victoria!
#ifKeithHaringwasaBrowngirl #VictoriaMartinez #LittleVillageArtist