Q&A with Featured Artist Mär Martinez

Photo by Tori Stipcak

We’re excited to introduce our latest Featured Artist, Mär Martinez, who is an interdisciplinary artist specializing in sculptural painting. She holds a BFA in Painting and a BA in Art History from the University of Central Florida. Her work in Issue 9 is provocative, and we just had to know more about the artist behind the pieces, so we asked Mär a few questions.

When did you start creating art?

I was actually kind of sporty as a kid, and more interested in creative writing. My best friend growing up was a great painter, and I wanted to be good at it too! I started becoming interested in art when I was in high school; I had a fabulous art history professor that went out of his way to get us excited about art. He would organize a huge bus full of high school students at two in the morning and drive down to Art Basel in Miami, where we would spend a 30-hour day running around the convention center. It was awesome, and it pushed the boundaries of my own understanding of what art could be…it didn’t have to be this dead, stagnant thing….it was a way to create life and I realized I had that power, too. I got really serious about art in my sophomore year of college and have been going ever since.

Why are you an artist?

There was no way I was going to be an accountant!

What artists do you most admire?

It’s a very long list. Right now I’m actually getting a lot of inspiration from literary artists. Pop Song  by Larissa Pham and Sirens & Muses by Antonia Angress (both queer reading material, by the way) have been hanging out in my head lately. I’m a visual person, but I spend a lot of time reading. It resonates and sticks with me in a permanent way. As far as artists, Laurie Anderson is a permanent art crush.

What’s your artistic process?

A tug of war.

What inspires you to create?

That good ‘ol fear of failure.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever created?

That changes week to week. I have a strained relationship with my work—I always think my current project is a total failure and have to put it away for a while, but three months later I’ll take a good hard look at it and be surprised that it’s actually quite decent… Right now I’m loving a silly little piece called Hot Dog Samsara. It’s a performance piece/sculpture of Big Bite hotdogs endlessly rolling on a gas station warmer. The time anxiety is hitting me hard!

What effect do you hope your art will have on people?

I think art is a crucial, yet strange, totem that allows people to think abstractly and gives permission to speak about difficult topics. I create work that is filtered through the lens of my own experience, and the specifics of that belong to me, but people can view the work as an object that allows them to place their own experience on top of it. It’s like an odd receiver that aids the projection of the individual’s experience. Although the work I create will always be very personal, it speaks to larger and universal experiences based in gender, sexuality, heritage and power dynamics.

What are you working on right now?

I’m finishing a body of work called Praying with My Eyes Open that uses textiles my family brought over when fleeing Syria to explore themes of cultural custom and faith-based ritual, and how these customs are preserved or discarded from an agnostic, post-immigration, third-culture perspective.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

In my studio. I don’t have a crystal ball so the little details are SUBJECT TO CHANGE, but I know, no matter what, I will be creating.

What’s it like being queer where you live?

I’m in Orlando right now, which is pretty queer friendly. After the Pulse murders, the city unified and is pretty out and proud.

What makes you “peculiar”?

I always have had a hard time sticking to the script, which is a radical act of defiance in some circumstances…

Where can fans find you online?

@meatvoid on Instagram or www.marmartinezart.com

Mär Martinez is an interdisciplinary artist specializing in sculptural painting. Her work dissects dominance, aggression and power dynamics through the lens of a culturally-enforced binary system. She received a BFA in Painting and a BA in Art History at the University of Central Florida.

Select Awards include: Bridge Ahead Initiative Grant, Jewish Art Salon Student Fellow, FusionFest Best in Show Award, Katherine K. & Jacob Holzer Art Scholarship, Frank Lloyd Wright Scholar Recipient, and the Miniature Fine Arts Society Award. Select Solo Exhibitions include: Push Comes to Shove, FL, FRACTURE, FL, Illusions of Safety, PA, and Schism, FL. Select 2022 Exhibitions include: GENESIS, NY, ZOONOTIC HEX, NY, CLOCKWORK, OH, 36th Annual All Florida Exhibition, FL, and Film Church, NY. Select 2021 Exhibitions include: A Tiny Bit of Fire, London, SUMMERHOUSE, PA, GALEX 55, IL, ARTFIELDS, SC, Collaborative Animals, OH and Sugar, Spice, and Not Playing Nice, NY.  Martinez is currently Art and History Museums Maitland’s 2021 – 2022 Artist-in-Action, FL.

Artist Statement:
My work explores structural power dynamics that breed dominance and aggression based on gender, ethnicity, and sexual identity within our society. The culturally enforced binary system of gender constrains self-expression and exacerbates violence. My work is informed by my Arab-American heritage, and has evolved into a dialogue about the exploitative nature of unchecked power imbalances.

Habibti is the possessive, feminine and diminutive form of habibi, meaning ‘my beloved.’ It subtly implies ownership under the guise of affection. Accessing individual identity, expression & sexuality within the societal constraints of how a good Middle Eastern ‘woman’ should be can be stiflingly public because everyone becomes a voyeur on personal identity. My work addresses themes of consent as well as power; the jagged edges of the hand-cut forms on wood imply a nonconsensual departure by being forcibly cut out. The sculptural paintings mimic the reduction of figures to objects; they’re removed from the protection of canvas, leaving figures exposed.The violent act of stripping figures from their context mimics how power can be given and taken away. The figures become vulnerable, naked objects in the outside world
“Habibti” by Mär Martinez

See more of Mär’s work in Issue 9 of peculiar, available now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s