My solo exhibition was installed last week. I feel sort of like I am returning from a long break and things are unfamiliar. Though, I’ve been working steady. Truth is, I don’t remember protocols anymore. Do we still send out a press release? Who are the press people? What year is this?
Let the record show this post acts as PRESS RELEASE and INVITE! This exhibit has been 2 years in coming. Whew….COME JOIN US!
For the last decade, Phoenix-based artist Monica Aissa Martinez has been researching and depicting the intricate structures and complex diversities of living organisms. From humans to microorganisms, Martinez masterfully captures the physical, mental and spirit of our biological world. Nothing In Stasis features Martinez’s latest body of work of more than 30 colorful physiological and anatomical drawings.
* Monica Aissa Martinez is a 2019 proposal winner.
WHO : MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ WHAT: NOTHING IN STASIS – A SOLO EXHIBITION WHEN: APRIL 8 – August 7, 2022 → ARTIST RECEPTION: MAY 13, 2022 (7-10pm) WHERE: MESA CONTEMPORARY ARTS MUSEUM – SOUTH GALLERY
FREE and Open to the Public Musical Entertainment by Djents Numerous Art Exhibitions with Artists in Attendance Light Refreshments and Cash Bar Mesa Arts Center is located at One East Main St., Mesa, AZ 85201 → Driving Directions Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum: (480) 644-6560 Hours: Mondays: Closed Tue – Sat: 10 AM – 5 PM Sun: Noon – 5 PM
It’s early December when I receive this email from Julie: By any chance do you have any small works of just the brain? My sister is looking for a present for her son (my nephew) who is a neuro surgeon and I wanted to tell her about your work. If you had a small drawing of a brain, send me an image and the price and I’ll forward it on to her. Thanks! Happy holidays! -Julie
You could guess things played out well. As I prepare to write, I ask Julie for story.
The way it came down, Julie explains, was that my sister asked in passing, Do you know by any chance an artist who paints or draws images of the brain? We want to give our son (Steven) and his wife Mary (also a surgeon) a gift that would be near to his practice (a neurosurgeon).
Julie’s reply: Boy do I have an artist for you, and I just so happen to be organizing a solo exhibition of her work at TMA! Her work is wonderful and I think I saw a few brain images when I visited there recently.
Julie Sasse is Chief Curator at Tucson Museum of Art. She’d made a studio visit in early November. We were going over the artwork for my upcoming September exhibition, in the museum’s → Kasser Family Wing of Latin American Art. Wendy Carr, is Julie’s sister.
Julie continues, I really like my nephew (and his wife!). He and I went on a three-week trip to Chile the summer before he entered med school so we have a special bond—went to Easter Island as well. What a great trip that was. He is so smart and I love to hear about the lives he has saved.
Friday, I send 4 images, along with the information she’s requested. Monday, Julie tells me to hold one particular study. Tuesday I speak with Wendy.
I enjoy hearing about her son, Dr. Steven Carr, MD., an Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. Wendy notes Steven’s creative side, He enjoys working with his hands, wood in particular. He made a toy box and a rocking horse for his son as well as a train set and a trolley car.
I tell her about an exhibition of my work at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. I recall how I especially appreciated the medical students and faculty talk about my work and point out the details. I didn’t say much, mostly I listened (and learned!).
Here ↓ is the small brain study Julie asked me to hold. I paid extra attention to details with this image. And I was using mylar for the first time. I discovered both graphite and casein paint love a mylar surface! It’s a favorite material and I continue to use it.
The brain and its cells have become the focal point of many of my works since my father’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease. I’ve had time and opportunity to learn about the brain, including visiting the brain bank, in Sun City, AZ.
This artwork showed with phICA, in a container space in downtown Phoenix as well as the University of Arizona Medical School, also in downtown Phoenix.
Now it’s yours, Steven and Mary! This gift of art is in recognition of becoming a Board Certified Neurosurgeon, Steven. Congratulations to you.
Wendy and David, thank you so much. I’d like to extend a personal invitation to all of you. Should you be in Tucson, come and join us for the opening of my solo exhibition, on September 1st! Amongst other things, I plan to have a wall of brain anatomy, including microanatomy study, on display. #UrBeautifulBrain
Thanks again, Julie!
The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.
A new work is in progress. I’m painting a newborn, more specific, a preterm baby.
Organizing this study, I began with one focus, shifted to another, and then still another. Finally, I started painting at what was supposed to be the bottom of the composition, only to eventually make it the top.
When this idea presented itself in October, I’d been spending so much of my time in my head (Pun intended, I was trying to lay out neuron structure). When I got done, I was so ready for some grounding. In this way, I guess it’s natural to land in conception (it couldn’t be that complicated, I thought. Ha!). #It’sComplicated
At some point, I wondered if I could imply those that had come before. It felt natural to want to indicate those that protect and guide. I wanted ancestral presence. #biological #intellectual #emotional
I contacted Gila, a friend who is a Yoga and massage therapist, as well as a doula. We have a fun conversation. I returned to the studio and worked an ovum onto the bottom of my canvas. #grounding
This human reproductive cell ↓ is one of the largest single cells in the body. It’s much bigger than the sperm (about 10,000x larger). And it holds loads of mitochondria.
Gila commented on the ovum …..as a sound/vibration she sings a song to the sperm, which is the carrier of light : sound + light = creation that’s how the universe started and we are the same
Meanwhile, I’m reading sperm cells are haploid (single set of unpaired chromosomes). This ↑ haploid will connect to the egg, also a haploid. (Sperm’s midsection holds lots of mitochondria too!) In humans, only their egg and sperm cells are haploid. Together, egg and sperm will form a diploid. #Sound+Light=Creation
Things get more interesting as I learn about cortical reaction, a process preventing any other sperm (other than the1) from fusing with the 1 egg. #GotAllMystical #TheCreativeProcess
I connected with my friend Dominique who is a cancer biologist. She clarified: Sperm and ova are haploid, germinal cells. They undergo a special cell division called meiosis, that renders them haploid. As soon as fertilization takes place that egg and all the subsequent cells are diploid, as you point out in humans that means 46 chromosomes.
It’s complicated. I wanted to redirect.
Meiosis is very important, Dominque continued, because the 4 daughter cells each have independently assorted chromosomes. Like shuffling a deck of cards. One way to ensure a random assortment of genes, the other way is recombination which also takes place during meiosis!!!
O.k. I’m in here! What about mitosis, Dominque?
Mitosis happens when any plant or animal cell divides. It has a series of steps in which chromosomes are copied and condense as they become tightly coiled. This allows them to them to pair up and align in the center of the cell. Then there are little organelles called the centrioles, these move to opposite sides of the cell and produce the spindle. Think of them as making thin filaments like spider webs that attach to the center of the chromosomes, called centromeres. And now comes the magic trick: half of the copied chromosomes are pulled towards each centriole, exactly half. Then the cell divides and each daughter cell has a full genetic instructions for its function!!!
I like magic!
Well…ok. I’m rolling now…
And without anymore delay, I’d like you to meet Vañya Victoria Jacquez.
Vanya made her appearance at 32 weeks. Jeorgina (mom, who happens to be a Pediatric ICU nurse) had a C-section and tells me Vanya came out screaming! Which I gathered was a good thing.
Vanya is Victor’s (my nephew) and Jeorgina’s daughter. Tomorrow she will celebrate 3 months! Congratulations Jeorgina and Victor. Clearly, your little girl was eager and ready. #soonerratherthanlater
Let’s see where this composition takes me next… #workinprogress
Last Fall, while working to understand the microbiome and its relationship to obesity, I knew it was in the cards that I’d focus on a neonatal study and breastfeeding (among other things).
I listen to podcasts as I paint. My drawing paper is a good place to note key points. #TheBodyIsPolitcal
I’ve learned to consider mother’s milk as food, medicine and signal (thanks to Katie Hinde and → Mammals Suck…Milk!). This is complicated stuff (I say this a lot lately). I’m sharing general notes to explain my direction and include a few links for the science.
So much happens behind the scenes, when mother feeds child. It seems somewhat multi-leveled and maybe multi-dimensional (I don’t mean the latter to read esoteric but admit I like implication). I know breastfeeding shapes babies immune system. I learn it shapes the brain, influences emotion and behavior, and more clearly I understand breast milk feeds (gut) microbes.
My representation of the structure of a lactating breast includes secretory lobules, alveoli, ducts, fat and connective tissue ↑. I circle and magnify area to emphasize the focus. Isolating and highlighting ↓ epithelial layer (I like these cells!), I note milk lipid droplets and casein (And I wonder if the same animal protein when added to pigment becomes my Casein paint!)
I read oxytocin makes muscle cells contract and prolactin support the milk secreting cells.
I learn human breast milk contains (non-invasive) pluripotent ↑ stem cells → mammalssuckmilk. .
While initially I plan to only draw the intestine, I recall babies have a large (way large!) #ThymusGland. It enters composition as do heart and lungs. And I always include the mighty #Liver.
Mother’s breast milk is living. It is both nourishment (calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorous, potassium…etc) and hydration. And if I understand correctly…each and every time (wow) mother feeds baby, her milk satisfies the child’s needs at that particular moment in time.
Baby’s spit/saliva carries a signal as it washes ↑ back up into mother’s breast where receptors pick it up. Communication via fluids…you can imagine the benefit to a building immune system ↓. (Breast milk mixed with baby saliva generates hydrogen peroxide → H2O2 )
I don’t forget (I wrote about them before) the human milk oligosaccharides ↑ (HMO’s), the complex carbohydrates unique to human milk that baby cannot absorb. Reminder: HMO’s act as fertilizer for populating gut microbes. (fucosyllactose component of oligosaccharide feed bifidobacteria) #IntestinalFlora #GutEcosystem #Microbiome #ImUnderstandingSymbiosis!
I go back to my desktop notes to make sure I’ve included particulars in the post. While there’s more to the artwork, I repeat and emphasize…the relationship between newborn and mother is multi-dimensional.
This post is dedicated to my sister who lives in Connecticut. Analissa had her first baby just as the country went into physical-distancing. I hope to meet my ↓ nephew before too long. In the meantime, I text her when I learn a fun fact.
Nephew Roberto AKA Tito
And to my neighbor Amy, mom to 4 week old Hailey (this Portrait of…).
A few years back after having her first baby, Amy came over carrying several of her text books on anatomy, physiology and microbiology, which she left for me to use. They’re heavy! (I use them regularly.)
I teach an anatomy drawing workshop at the college of Medicine on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. Participants come from several programs (including a couple of faculty) though the majority are Northern Arizona University (NAU) students in Occupational Therapy (OT).
They introduce themselves and I enjoy hearing why they signed up to come to the drawing workshop.
One young woman tells us she saw a kidney and thought it beautiful and wants to learn to draw it. I understand completely. Another speaks about the piriformis muscle – she explains, it’s from the Latin and means pear (shaped). She wants to see and know this. I don’t know piriformis means pear-shaped, I want to see this too! Someone else explains she would like to learn to draw the human body when needing to explain something – instead of the usual stick figure. I smile and note if I had a patient and needed to be efficient – that stick figure would come in handy.
I move around the room and learn every participant has a personal reason for being here, including an appreciation of anatomy. Someone tells me she likes my artwork and thinks this could be fun. Thank you. Yes, it will be! I tell her.
I want to say a lot of things to them. I want to talk about science and art and their connection, and I want to talk about Leonardo (I never do!). We have 3 hours together – they’ll start something today but will probably finish up on their own.
They arrive ready with organ (subject-matter) references. And medical models are available. We talk about a contour study and I quickly explain the value of working organically. While Cindi (Director of Art in Medicine) provides a variety of papers (surfaces) and materials – the majority of the group chooses to work on black paper (I’m excited to see the black paper – I know what color does on it). A couple of the participants pick out beautiful rice papers and after some conversation – they work in parts and layers – bringing a more sculptural sensibility to their work.
Here are some captured moments of the afternoon. Note everyone begins with a careful contour study and then loosens up (with some prodding) to bring in color and texture. The nervousness steps aside and the afternoon brings a little science and a little art together. Ahhh…creativity!
On a side note: I particularly enjoy the overall conversation. It’s an unusual experience being around medical (health and wellness) people. They’re familiar and comfortable with the body in a way that the average person is not.
The afternoon is coming to an end and I hear comments like … Oh! I love your kidney!Oh…look at your brain!!
I learn some new things. I don’t take notes but I probably could (should) have.
Thanks everyone. And a special thanks to Cindi and Rebecca.
My drawings and paintings are on display right now at UA College of Medicine in downtown Phoenix until March of 2018. You can see the exhibit M-F, 9 to 5.
An Artist Reception is in the planning for February 2, 2018 – First Friday, 6-8 pm.
I am excited to let you know my work will be a part of the State of the Artexhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of America.
This is certain to be a one-of-a-kind exhibition experience – for artists and visitors both – as curators travelled 10,000 miles across the United Sates to visit with nearly 1000 artists. My studio was in that mix of visits as were a handful of AZ artists. I recall the initial phone call and email I received – I really couldn’t believe it ( for the record – I do believe it now ).
Photo by Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
About the exhibit: State of the Art features 102 artists from across the country selected for inclusion as a result of Crystal Bridges president Don Bacigalupi and assistant curator Chad Alligood’s travels and visits (mostly in person, some via Skype) with artists from every region of the U.S.
About the art works: · Works in the exhibition include photography, video, ceramics, action/interaction, glass, fiber, installation, paper, painting, and sculpture.
· There are more than 200 total works in the exhibition
· The exhibition will reach beyond the boundaries of the Museum’s temporary exhibition spaces, extending into the permanent collection galleries and activating public and community areas indoors and out. Gallery spaces will total 19,000 square feet.
There is no charge to view the exhibition.
WHO: Crystal Bridges, Museum of American Art WHAT:STATE OF THE ART – DISCOVERING AMERICAN ART NOW WHERE: Bentonville, AK WHEN: September 13, 2014 – January 19, 2015
For more details click ↓
Visit the press page here on my blog and see the YouTube studio visit and/or read about the show and my work.
There is more to share but this is a good start.
Did I say I am excited? Yes I did. I am.
I could have titled this post No Woman is an Island.
The word zygote comes from the Greek and means joined or yoked. On a quick tangent – this makes me think of the Sanskrit word yoga which means to yoke, to join or to unite. Here I think physical process, development and growth. And I think mother – my mother.
You recall I am doing an anatomy study of my mother and I want to reference in the composition the 6 children she raised. Initially I think to include 6 embryos. But as I look at resource material and compositional space I choose to set up 6 eggs becoming fertilized by sperm. I also think design: movement, color and line.
The bottom part / the ground of the drawing ( a 12″ x 44″ area ) is where I refer to the developmental phase after fertilization and the resulting one-celled organism called a zygote. The zygote stage lasts about 4 days – ironically equivalent to the amount of time this area takes to draw out and paint – 4 full days of steady, intricate progress.
Here are the stages of the 6 zygotes.
Hot summers in Phoenix – I draw all day. This mixed media composition is bright and intense – more so than most of my other work on paper.
I need to start thinking about the title of the work and I wonder if it’s still part of the series called Nothing in Stasis. It is, I decide.
The human body is the primary subject of Monica Aissa Martinez’ small painting. She portrays our bodies as fantastic little factories, maybe tiny sex breweries, in a series of works about brides and grooms.
… Martinez says the experience of her recent marriage prompted her to explore the topic of who and what we are in a male/female union. Fascinated by the look of scientific detail in botanical and biological drawings, Martinez treats the figure to a revamping that includes ribbons and champagne glasses. The bodies take on the form of laboratory glasswork. The details in her work hold our attention long enough for us to realize the sly humor of lifting the lid off the marital sacrament to reveal the delightfully intricate plumbing that makes the whole process pump.
Linda A. McAllister
Senior Curator, Here and Now: Arizona Contemporary Artists, Part 1
ASU, Nelson Fine Arts Center, 1996
Linda McAllister wrote these words over 15 years ago about a series of small works based on brides and grooms. When people tell me my work has changed, I don’t agree completely. My work still focuses on relationship, if not male/female then masculine/feminine. I still use the body as container and I highlight the organs, I work with the idea of transparency, and all these years later still use the same batch of pigment and enjoy making and using egg tempera.
The Bride and Groom Egg Tempera on Paper 16″ x 11″ 1996
Below are a two more examples of the way I’ve represented relationship and the play of masculine and feminine, or male and female.
Conductivity Egg Tempera on Canvas 12″ x12″ 2207-08
Kinectic Egg Tempera on Canvas 12″ x12″ 2207-08
Right now I’ve put aside what I was working on to work a new painting for an invitational. The theme – Sex, a woman’s point of view. The show runs in September. I began working on this painting right after agreeing to take part – just so I wouldn’t over think things. I got a visual while reading the invite and went with it.
Detail Casein on canvas
This painting is casein on canvas and today I paint until I tire and can’t control line work anymore. I have a few decisions to make. I’ll just leave it alone until I resolve some composition and then continue.
New work as yet untitled but still part of the Nothing In Stasis series. Casein on canvas
I photograph at various stages so I can produce a short video.
– I’ll tell you more about the exhibit in time. The group of artists is exciting.
The rhythm of the body
the melody of the mind
& the harmony of the soul
create the symphony of life – B.K.S. Iyengar
Maybe this post is about new work. Maybe it’s about life.
I started a new painting last week – a 92″ x 67″ canvas. That’s a lot of surface for me to deal with. I like the physical challenge of working that big. Preparing the canvas is a whole day in the studio. My arms and hands store the experience for a few days.
I photograph parts of the composition, and put them together in Photoshop.The studies look simple but each area is taking a full day. I am being as accurate with the details as possible. The colors reference types of energy.
I draw myself in handstand, one leg firm, the other slightly organic. This is one way to understand what I have to do with my alignment to hold balance.
Working on upside down, reversed anatomy is complicated to say the least. I get my bearings, and then flip them. Gravity plays out differently in the muscles. Hands become like feet and arms become like legs – press down to rise. The cat comes around out of curiosity, I capture her in a few photos and so she appears in the painting. I’ll work her anatomy out next.
Clearly one can’t do this without support. Though well grounded and standing firm – no woman is an island.
On a connected note…
I sold You Are Here, A Map of Phoenix. It’s a turning point work that leads directly to what I am doing now: large, intensely detailed mapping of information.
We deliver and hang it this morning and then spend the afternoon hiking South Mountain. BTW, South Mountain lies to the bottom and off to the right, in the map below.
Thanks Greg and Veronica. Enjoy and use the Map of Phoenix, if you like. It’s accurately abstracted.
I produced a video that shows my working process – how stage above became stage below. I produced 4 versions of the video. The real-time video runs about 30 minutes, it’s long. The first edited version is 22 minutes and it captures what I really like about my working process. It will run next to the original work on paper, at the exhibit.
The final version is about 13 minutes and you can see it on YouTube at the link below. The first part is activity, and the last part shows stages of the composition to completion.
I had to adjust the whole thing numerous times, to be able to finally upload it and share. I enjoyed most of the process. I learned a few things…
Putting together a quality video is complicated.
there’s random sound caught on the radio as I worked, I learned to lift it and place it where I wanted it (it was weirdly applicable and it starts the video and ends the video),
then there’s the deliberately created sound,
there are transition points …
all layered and as consuming as making a small painting
Most important I learned sharing artist process cannot be captured in its true-scope. Once you start manipulating something…well…it ceases to be what it is and becomes something else, yes it transforms. It’s like it goes from the natural, to the man-made.
Patricia, the friend that commissioned the work – it’s her back body – is going to let me borrow it for the exhibition. That’s what she said anyway. Thanks Pat, timing is everything.
in ref. to things – of thin consistency
in ref. to craftsmen – skilled, clever
From O.Fr. soutil, from L. subtilis – fine, thin, delicate, finely woven
from sub under + -tilis from tela web
texere to weave
I like the desaturated photograph below. It comes alive in a different way, for me. I have documented most everything in both color and black and white for this new series.
The work represents the posterior view of a female torso. I’ve completed a male posterior already. I use a model (the person who commissioned the work) for the initial layout. It’s a 36″ x 25″, casein and graphite painting, on a fine sheet of cream Arches paper. I’ve been working on it for about 3 weeks.
The moment of change is the only poem. – Adrienne Rich
The mind is the switchboard for the nervous system of the body. -LL
Maybe I’m complete with this one work of the posterior view of the torso anatomy. More than likely it’s the first of several. You may recall it all started with researching Nadis. Nadis translates to flow and somewhat connects to the nerves, veins and arteries – and make up what is called the subtle body. There are said to be 72,000 of them. What does that all mean? Hence, one reason for the initial start of the anatomy series. I went from the parts (the individual organs) in earlier drawings and paintings, to the whole, in this body of work. At this moment, I might be back to the parts that make up the various systems. What a door I have opened. I’ve studied the body for over 20 years. Why only now am I curious with the subtle connections in this very determined and particular way?
I’ve already said I’m not familiar with the back of the body like I am with the front. Why did I not start my study with the visuallyrhythmic backbone? After-all the vertebrae is the structure that houses, supports and protects the brain and spinal cord. The whole central nervous system has me so engrossed these days. Once upon a time, I started with the heart, moved to the brain, and it’s inevitable that I find myself going down the spine. Actually – it’s more like – up the spine.
The spine supports the rib cage which protects the heart and lungs. It sets the muscles of the gastrointestinal organs including the stomach, intestine, liver, spleen, pancreas (from this posterior view it’s the first time I’ve really understood how the pancreas fits into the space), kidneys and urinary system. And it holds onto the pelvis which houses the excretory and reproductive organs.
Metaphorically, how do we experience the back of the body? It carries with it emotional, physical, and financial associations. Here are a few that come quickly to mind: support, stability, strength – lack / abundance, out of sight out of mind – carrying issues but not dealing with them, also the back body represents the past – relaxed or tense. And remember Atlas, who carried the world on his shoulders. My friend Maria says the shoulder blades connect to joy.
My yoga instructor Meg says … the legs are the governor of the back. This clarifies for me to stand with a firm foundation. I ask a few friends, who have studied the body through yoga, how they respond to their back body.
Patricia comments first:
The back body for me is a Mystery, that after ten years of [Yoga] Practice, is just now starting to reveal itself to me. Because my back feels so different to me than what it actually looks like, it is the one part of me that I love ( and actually require) having other people’s feedback on. My back body is a spiral, and it has its own loop*.
Deborah follows with her insight:
Our back body is our “connection” to the Universal, our Self, each other…I see it as connection. if you think about the spinal cord…there’s “connection” to our entire body. So, out of that connection to the Universal…community…comes “support”…and if I think about the spine…it gives us “support”! To tie these together I think about the loops, which all initiate from the back body so we “soften”…especially kidney loop* and opening to grace…when we soften and “lean into it.” There’s “support,” there’s “connection,” and “grace”.
*Loop is an energetic reference in their yoga practice.
How do I engage with the back body? Obviously it’s highly complex, and visually it’s stimulating and wonderful. Strength and flexibility (rooted in firm foundation) are key. And that’s just the beginning.
In all directness, this work, this drawing and study, serves me to understand that my body is my own. It’s that simple and that complex.
Despite all the care I’ve set up with the color, I like the de-saturated image. It gives me some odd sense of celebration. And it captures the depth of its mystery.
Do you have a preference? Colorful top image? Or the latter black and white?
How do you experience your back body?
Contact entelechy*, and all circuits are a go. Tune into it and another wonder of perspective is at hand.
– Jean Houston
I feel like I am working with string. This work is almost like needlepoint. I am carefully pulling lines across space.
…still in progress. I have a long way to go. The casein on paper work is 60″ wide and 96″ inches in height.
She’ll be making her début in about nine months.
*entelechy [ɛnˈtɛlɪkɪ] npl-chiesMetaphysics
1. (Philosophy) (in the philosophy of Aristotle) actuality as opposed to potentiality 2. (Philosophy) (in the system of Leibnitz) the soul or principle of perfection of an object or person; a monad or basic constituent 3.(Philosophy) something that contains or realizes a final cause, esp the vital force thought to direct the life of an organism
[from Late Latin entelechia, from Greek entelekheia, from en-2 + telos goal, completion + ekhein to have]
Carolyn Lavender, Mary Shindell and me had our exhibition proposal accepted by Mesa Arts Center. We were notified a few weeks ago. Click on each of our names to see our website.
Our three person show will hang in the North gallery and will run from January 11 through May 5, 2013.
New show, new work (this new drawing), new media, and a new blog.