no woman is an island

A few years back, curious about mula bandha, I asked Tara, a neighbor, to tell me about the area I understood as an important root lock. In my many years of Yoga practice, I’d studied the 3 bandhas: jalandhara bandha (chin lock), uddiyana bandha (stomach lock) and mula bandha, in which muscles are contracted at the center of the perineum. Tara was not a Yogi but was (and still is) a pelvic floor specialist.

We had an informative conversation about the general pelvic floor as well as the center of the pelvic floor, the perineum. I had no plan to paint these compositions until the next day when she brought a medical model for me to better understand. ↑  (Ps. Since then she’s brought even more interesting models to my studio that have influenced various works.)


Fast forward to this year, late October, when Tara asks if she can drop over and see pelvic art.
Sure, I say, but I’ll have to look for the them, give me a bit.

I find the artwork and invite her over the next day.
I show her each 2-sided study. There are 2 different works, one is female and one is male.
One side of each study shows muscles and nerves while the other side includes bones of the pelvis. Hanging in space, I want the viewer to be able to walk around each piece and note the layers.

Pelvic Floor Female : Inferior View
Pelvic Floor Male : Inferior View

Tara looks at them and without hesitation says she wants them.
I’m getting a new office and I want these in it!

And because they are 2-sided, she wants to know how she might hang them.
You have choices, Tara! And quality of light matters too.

Side by side as a horizontal statement.
One above the other as vertical presentation.

When everything is said and done with the artwork, naturally Tara and I talk anatomy. I want to understand more about how male and female pelvic floor’s differ. While there are differences in the male and female pelvis, Tara notes, there are not as many as one might think. She gets excited with explaining details (I think she should always carry a dry eraser board), Females, as compared to males, have 2 extra pelvic floor muscles, the compressor urethrae and sphincter urethrovaginalis! She goes on to explain. (And I should always carry a pen and notebook) #knowyourbody

To learn more about Tara and her work (she has lots of Q and A sections on her site)
go to → pelvicfloorspecialist.com

Again, thank you Tara! This work found a perfect home!


The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.

©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

the prompt is ‘fly”

Like so many events during the pandemic, Bar Flies moved into a virtual space. For now, their usual live productions remain on hold. They ask participants to illustrate a true story, based on a prompt.

I’m invited, along with others, and the theme is…FLY! We can work classic comic style, in photography, embroidery or any other form of mixed media. It can run with all text or even be a collaboration with another. #SoOpenICanDoThis


It’s July, I’m in Texas visiting mom, when I receive the invite. Oddly (or maybe naturally), I go to the family encyclopedia set of my childhood (…time flies or does it fly?). I pull the F, locate fly and make a copy of it. And I carry it ↑ with me as I fly back home, a few days later.

Back in Phoenix, I go into my studio, not having been in it for a few weeks. Looking out the door, to the side yard, I see a beautiful oriole. How long has he been there? He’s so still. #FlyNot

I gather a variety of material (cuz it’s all an experiment) and begin this illustrated study.
Truly, #OnTheFly.

Oh…and here are design outtakes!
Thanks again, Amy!

There are 8 participants Go look!
For more info Bar Flies.


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

circle of willis / blood vessels of the brain

I’ve wanted to draw the Circle of Willis ever since I heard the name of this area of the brain.

Friday, I got going on what I thought was going to be a quick study. One thing led to another and I ended up with a network of the brain’s blood vessels. #lovelylinework

This weekend I painted the study.

Initially the composition was to be black and white (like an MRI). I got out my gesso, both the black and the white, 2 various shades of cadmium red, and then out came the gold ink. I brought gold in because as I drew out details and thought about the brain and it’s blood supply, I worked in wonder of life processes.

I recalled a conversation with my father, who years ago, suggested I stay away from using gold to indicate the precious or the sacred. He thought it too easy a solution. I agreed with him then and maybe sometimes, I still agree with him today.

Circle of Willis: Circle comes from the Latin circulus, diminutive of circus ( a little ring!). Latin circus relates to Greek kirkos, circle or ring. The Circle of Willis is named after Thomas Willis, father of neurology. The area, located at the base of the brain, supplies oxygenated blood to over 80% of the cerebrum. (It’s not the focal point here, but it is the starting point.)

Dear dad, about the the gold ink…It came in at the very end, after a lot of work and a lot of thought. Nothing easy about it. It’s so subtle, you could miss it if I hadn’t said anything about it.
#urbeautifulbrain #circleofwillis #life


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

remarkable presence

Suitcase made by artist Jen Urso, honoring a man who owned his own glass business and served as pastor to help recovering drug addicts. 73 yrs old.

Jen contacts me in April: Hi Monica, I’ve been meaning to write to you. First, I’m so sorry about your brother passing, and I believe your father as well? I know you and I can probably relate on all the strange feelings that come along with this loss. I believe I remember you posting that your brother’s death was related to COVID and since you mentioned he was your dad’s caretaker, I made the assumption that this is what claimed your dad as well. I mention this because the project I’m working on is about grief and COVID deaths. Although I’m focusing on Arizona, with your permission I’d like to create a suitcase for your brother and dad to give to you, as a remembrance and way to honor them. You may have seen some of my posts about this project but if not, I can share some imagery of what I’m doing. I can give the suitcases directly to you or first include them in the exhibit at Walter Art Gallery in September.

I should note Jen lost her sister Tina, to ovarian cancer, this last December of 2020.

We keep in touch. I watch as Jen shares on social media, her careful and thoughtful process of folding (with the help of family and friends) and installing over 18,000 suitcases, including a display of pop up suitcases, utilizing COVID-related obituaries.

I recall sending dad’s and Chacho’s obits to her. Not having looked at them in a while, I see new photos my brother’s friends added. I reread them and feel my sisters and I captured their individual qualities well. Jen tells me about writing her sister’s obituary. We share our individual experiences of losing a sibling and especially in this unusual time of physical distancing. I could see she related to things I was saying and vice-versa. We laughed as we shared some stories of our loved ones and cried as we shared others.

I know this was not easy for Jen, but she moved through all the various parts of this work with what felt like complete openness and care. Today she sends a ↓ photo and writes, your brother and dad, together. I’m touched as I recognize the words we wrote.

Thank you Jen, for holding space for life lost to Covid. Thank you for remembering my dad and my brother. Thanks for sharing your sister with me. I will remember her.


Public exhibition opens this Friday and your presence is welcomed.
WHO: Jen Urso
WHAT: Remarkable Presence
WHERE: Walter Art Gallery
6425 East Thomas, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
WHEN: September 17 with a collective grieving event from 6:30pm-8:30pm
Facebook Invite  Masks required!


Three more collective grieving events will be held across the valley: Sept 25, Oct, 9 and Oct 15.  For information about Jen Urso, her installation and event details/locations visit the website REMARKABLE PRESENCE


Postscript: Jen and I have talked about various rituals connected to death including the writing of the obituary and burial/recomposing rites. I want to make note we also lost my father-in-law to Covid-19. He does not have an obituary. Every family, each person, handles grief in their own way and in their own time. 
The experience of losing numerous family members is difficult, to say the very least. We manage because we know we are not alone. Across the planet, people’s lives are forever changed because of this pandemic.
#yourremarkablepresence #wemissyou 

©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

no woman is an island

I’ve known Haley, Art Specialist with the Phoenix Airport Museum, a few years now. She’s visited my studio as well as picked up and dropped off work. She’s also facilitated a couple of tours through airport exhibition spaces, which included back scene ventures with her and the art crew.

Considering Sky Harbor International Airport is one of busiest airports in the US, opportunities to associate with it and see it in a different manner are well…pretty cool!

Why am I talking about you Haley?  Because I met Tim! 

I am Haley’s fiancé. You may know her through your work together at the airport museum etc. 
Her birthday is next week and I wanted to reach out to see if I could purchase Bar Flies from you. She LOVES this piece and has spoken many times about buying it to keep and display in our own home. Is it available?
Also, this will be a surprise!
Thank you so very much.
Timothy

3 things Haley…
– Tim’s a great guy!
– I didn’t know you loved this artwork!
– Oh and hey, it’s your birthday today. This ↓ is yours! SURPRISE!!

I don’t know that I ever told you how this collage work came to be…

One of the founders of Bar Flies asked if I’d be interested in creating a sticker for them. (Shout out to Amy!)  Bar Flies is a monthly reading series that pre-pandemic, was held at the downtown Valley Bar. (BTW, it will return, hopefully sooner rather than later.)

The show, always a good, midweek night-out with the friends, featured different themes, true stories, the tellers of those stories, along with carefully curated music (shout out to Deborah!).

And speaking of truth, every-single-time my friend Veronica and I went out there, we managed to get lost. Don’t ask why (no cell phone mapping could help us).

If I was going to create a design for Bar Flies, it was going to feature a real map that I would hope, could set into my brain, the lay of the downtown Phoenix land.

I collage a map, some story and…put a fly on it.

I bring in a few more flies amongst a performing fly and add cheer.

 

Final cut: Bar Flies, Mixed media collage, 14×14″


The  work eventually makes its way  to Sky Harbor Airport  (for a map show, of course), where it crossed paths with you, Haley (or vice-versa).
In the lower right area of the composition you’ll note a glimpse of the airport. #itwasinthecards

Thanks again, Tim! I do appreciate a good surprise.
Happy Birthday to you, Haley! And many, many more!


The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.

©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

viendo al hipocampo

In the studio this week, I look into the complicated hippocampus.
The goal: Keep it simple.

FYI – detailed area is the hippocampus.

The hippocampus is the area in the brain where memory is stored. We have two hippocampi.

This week, my only intention is to acknowledge and appreciate learning and memory and to better know (look closely at) the hippocampus.

Note: It plays a role in spacial memory and enables navigation.

Does this imply it moves one through space and time (metaphor)? Or does this imply environment (literal)? Both, I decide!
And, it crosses paths with one’s sense of smell.

Así es! Sencillo! / That’s it! Simple.

PS. I want this week to be Hippocampus Appreciation Week. Whom do I speak with?
#IDeclareItHippocampusAppreciationWeek #AppreciateLearningAndMemory
#UrBeautifulBrain


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

mitochondria – vital principle

Interested in mitochondria, both form and function, this study broadens my understanding.

I paint them a cadmium red because up to now I’ve only associated them with the physical. They are a fundamental sign of life, in particular cellular life, including how a cell divides, ages and dies. Mitochondria produce the energy that fuels cellular function. #ATP They monitor the health of a cell and if necessary, initiate cell death. #PowerHousesOfTheCell

They influence breath, blood and energy flow in the body. It is with this clarity that I make connection to the subtle body. Think life force, prana, qi. #ElectricalActivity #Meridians

A few more notes about these life giving/taking organelles
(that in this 2D format appear much too static):
Under the microscope they are alive with movement. #fission and #fusion.
They are living organisms that communicate with each other. #dynamicsystem
We breath to bring oxygen to mitochondria. #inhale #exhale
*Essential to cell function, they are fundamental for neuronal function. #thinkaboutthis
We need their energy to be able to interact with our environment. #life #life and #life
They have there own genome. (MtDNA) #PropsToTheMother

Did I throw the words life and live in here enough? You get the picture!
#AVitalCommotion


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ



spike protein / chief rank

While I want only to draw and paint, I will share a few things (that I sort of understand) about the spike protein.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is martinez_spikeprotein1.jpg

The most obvious identifying feature, and for me it’s the pull to draw the coronavirus again (and again), is the spike protein (S protein). By now everyone is familiar with this proteinscape (yes, I made the word up) along the outer edge of the virus which forms the identifying crown that it is named after.

Visually, I appreciate layout, structure and textural qualities.

I purchase new materials and enjoy the freedom archival marking pens bring me (I do not let go of paint and brush). The pens allow for a tighter and narrower clean line that holds its fluidity.

I look up the word protein to find it comes from the Greek proteios defined as chief rank or first place. Interesting, though I can’t say this helps me get any clearer on S proteins. (…or perhaps it does…)

There are many proteins involved in the coronavirus assembly, including M protein (membrane protein) and E protein (envelope protein).

I understand S proteins are glycoproteins meaning they contain a carbohydrate (a slippery sugar molecule) which helps disguise the virus so as not to be detected by host cells.
#penetrating #fusing

Without the S protein, viruses like the (novel) SARS-CoV-2 would not be able to interact with the cells of its potential host and cause infection. It also neutralizes antibodies after infection. Consequently, the S protein was/is ideal target for vaccine and antiviral research.
→ #ChiefRank

Are some proteins programmed to be so sneaky? #SurvivalOfTheMostAdaptable

This subject is more complicated than I can say…so it’s wise for me to return to the studio. I’m keeping this simple. (Cuz I don’t know a virologists and if I did I wouldn’t interrupt them right now cuz they’re probably very busy.)

Spike protein, I wish I’d never heard of you. Go away.


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

third eye / pituitary gland

Curious of the mystical right now, I go in search of the Third Eye.

I start at the forehead, between the eyebrows, draw back and make my way to…the optic chiasm (but of course!). Here, I locate the pituitary gland (master gland of the endocrine system), traditionally associated with the third eye (Ajna Chakra). I also find the hypothalamus.

There is some kind of vital activity compacted into this central area of the brain!
#guardians of health #homeostasis
#nervoussystem #endocrinesystem

The pituitary gland is lower form. Hypothalamus is upper forms.
I love the whole shape.

Until now, I don’t know the pituitary gland is also called hypophysis.

Hypophysis: from the Greek, hypo means below or under, and relates to its position. Physis, means growth and/or in Latin, connects to natura or nature.. The gland secretes hormones that affect growth, blood pressure, protein synthesis and digestion. The hypophysis works in tandem with the hypothalamus, Greek, hypo, below [the thalamus] and thalamus, Latin for inner chamber (the latter is excellent description of the space). The hypothalamus controls temperature, food intake (appetite, weight control, digestive juices), thirst and water intake, sleep and wake cycles, child birth, blood pressure and heart rate, emotional behavior and memory.
#hormones #emotions #drives

The light-hearted quality of the small study surprises me (serious stuff goes on in there). #ChildsPose #AUM

Back to the mystical…
The third eye implies perception beyond ordinary sight. People who awaken the center are called seers. It is related to discernment, intuition, telepathy, clairvoyance, imagination and visualization.
#controlcenter #wherecreationoccurs

Do you see connections between the physical and the energetic systems?


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

homage to the pigeons at los olivos

Hola Palomitas! I see you regularly. Do you recognize my face? I’ve thought to paint you for a good while. Time is now. #SpringBreak

I indulge in painting your textured Cadmium Orange legs and feet! I take delight in working the textured, cool and lighter Payne’s Grey, feathered skirt just above them. Your round form, I outline a darker Payne’s Grey.

You store food at the end of your esophagus in something called a crop. You produce crop milk to feed your young. You don’t have teeth so your gizzard helps you grind food. And you have lots of air sacs…ahh…evolution!

I detail a brain to note your intelligence. I’m surprised to learn the surface is smooth. It has no gyri and sulci! Rumor has it you have an internal compass. Is this true? An internal map allows you to make your way back home from far away locations?

I add and detail your (relatively) large heart that has to meet high metabolic demands for flight. No wonder they say you represent a feeling of safety and confidence in challenging situations. Tradition also has it that you arrive with love, kindness and peace. You connect to home and security. I most appreciate learning you are a spirit messenger, carrying messages between the living and dead. I’ll trust to use your service.

Casein, Egg Tempera, Gesso, Gouache, Graphite, Ink, Micaceous Iron Oxide, Pencil color

#pigeonbody and #pigeonspirit

Paloma, Mm collage on Birch Panel, 14″ x 11″

#freedom


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

it rains, it pours…i draw

One year ago,  I couldn’t have imagined where we’d be today…

Deaths in US 532,355
Cases in US 29,269,590
Vaccines administered 109,081,860

Today is the first day of Spring break. It’s not raining, though it is cold outside
and I am in studio drawing.

In the Art Department, at my college, we are teaching Hybrid studio classes. We have downsized the number of students allowed in each class. When we meet on campus and can work outdoors, we do, and everyone is masked.

Reposting March 15, 2020 ↓

Monica Aissa Martinez

Teri, my friend who is an emergency nurse, upon seeing my virus study in social media, writes:
What did you do during the pandemic Monica?
Responding to herself she continues…I sketched it.


Enjoying the first part of Spring Break, I spend a couple of long days outdoors before the rains come. By end of week, I receive word school break is extended another week, to the 20th. News of COVID-19 fill the airwaves.

It rains. It pours. I draw.

Coronavirus: Internal structure. Note Spikes (glycoproteins) and single strand RNA

Fascinated by viruses, I note the coronavirus described as aesthetically pleasing. I agree.

In the studio the latter part of the week, I draw while listening to science podcasts, in general, on the subject of viruses, in particular on COVID-19. I learn about amplifier hosts and reservoir hosts. I learn words like retrovirus and zoonosis.

COVID-19 stands for coronavirus…

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