tempera @ crystal bridges

In February I receive an email from Assistant Curator Jen Padgett at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

I’m curating a small focus show about tempera painting and was drawn toward your Male Torso – Anterior View and Female Torso – Anterior View, which were in our State of the Art exhibition.

I wondered if you might have any comments about your use of casein in the work, or any of the other materials. We’re planning to install the paintings in a section that looks at the variations of tempera including casein, and how that is used with other materials such as gouache, etc. The overall goal of the exhibition is to engage our visitors with the complexity of materials and techniques and I think your works do that beautifully.

Before a planned phone call at the end of the week, I send Jen process shots ↓ of both of the works. I list all the material including casein and egg tempera.

Male Torso in process. Mixed media includes Casein, Egg Tempera, Gesso, Gouache, Ink, Micaceous Iron Oxide on Canvas
Size: 45 x 35½ inches

Jen tells me about the exhibit. I enjoy our conversation about materials and also share with her some history about both casein and egg tempera.

Today she sent installation ↓ shots!

Tempera, one of several exhibitions on view now at Crystal Bridges Museum, runs to October 14, 2019.

Jen, thank you for the photos. The space looks beautiful!

Installation photos courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum

more about → Crystal Bridges


© All Rights Reserved by Monica Aissa Martinez

no woman is an island

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Gluttony, MM on BFK, 18 1/2 x 12 1/2″

After a photo of my studio appeared on the cover of the NYT – and the State of the Art exhibition was first announced – I received emails from across the country. Coast to coast. It was exciting.

I had well wishers from different walks of life, including working artists all over the United States. I also received emails from people interested in purchasing art. I tried to respond to everyone but frankly it was so much work that it would have meant not making art for a good while.

It was at that time that I received an email from Anthony.  He sent well wishes and was considering buying  a work. I sent a link to my website, suggested he look through it and let me know if there was something he wanted more information about. This is basically what I said to most everyone. Anthony mentioned he lived in Arkansas and was a member of the Crystal Bridges Museum.

He quickly narrowed things down to 2 prints. And by the time the final list of artists came out he’d decided on this ↑ mixed media drawing (instead of the print) titled Gluttony.

Gluttony is the original drawing from a 2008 commissioned assignment by the University of Notre Dame. They (University Program for Latino Research and the Institute for Latino Studies) were organizing a health campaign targeting Latino communities. While a series of brightly colored posters were designed, my drawing was printed separately as a limited edition archival ink jet print. I signed and numbered them, and was given some.

I met Anthony at a lecture the weekend State of the Art opened. You can imagine how surprised I was to know he was sitting directly in front of me in the large audience gathered to hear curators Bacigalupi and Aligood lecture about the exhibit.  I took the opportunity to thank Anthony in person. He noted the real thing looked better than the photo – talking about the drawing. Yes, I agreed, it always does.

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State of the Art brought many opportunities. So good to meet you Anthony. Thanks again!


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

science in artistic form – a symposium

This project is a call to action – for all of us – to pay attention to the artists among us, in all our communities, big and small. – Don Bacigalupi


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Friday, November 14th
I sit on the stage with a group of 4 practiced artists. We are in the Great Hall, at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art. This is the first day of a 2-day symposium and the house is full.
The panel discussion circles around connection between humanity and the natural world through the lens of art and science.

photo1The 5 State of the Art artists included in this afternoon’s mix of scientific study within artistic form are Dornith Doherty’s seed bank study of biodiversity (TX); Flora C. Mace’s three-dimensional botanical specimens (WA); Isabella Kirkland’s homage to species recently revealed to science (CA); Susan Goethel Campbell’s merging of nature and consumerism (MI), and (myself) Monica Aissa Martinez’s holistic and spiritual study of human anatomy (AZ). The panel is moderated by University of Arkansas’ Art History Professor Alissa Walls. The opening lecturer is Curator Chad Aligood. Sara Segerlin, in charge of public programs, makes introductions.

To give you some sense of the range of work the audience sees – here is one image from each artist – linked in to the State of the Art website. 

Millennium Seed Bank Research Seedlings and Lochner-Stuppy Test

Dorinth Doherty, Millennium Seed Bank Research Seedlings and Lochner-Stuppy Test Garden No.2, Digital Chromogenic Lenticular Photograph, 79 x 36″

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Flora C Mace, Big Violet (detail) Botanical glass, compost, and shell stand, 16.5 x 14 x 6″

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Monica Aissa Martinez, Male Torso – Anterior View MM on canvas, 45 x 35.5″


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Isabella Kirkland, Emergent, Oil and alkyd on polyester over panel, 60 x 48″

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Susan Goethel Campbell, “Clod” series, dirt and dried grass cast in packaging molds

Excited and nervous, I stand at the podium to speak. My sense of being an artist has broadened. I now have a more expanded sense of community as well as new responsibility. I am not completely settled into these new feelings. I know I won’t say everything I want to say, but I hope I can at least keep things organized in my mind. Ironically, I discuss connecting mind and body – clearly a skill I am learning.

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After the panel discussion artists continue into the galleries to connect with visitors in smaller, more intimate groups.

One person I sit and talk with notes a common trait among each panel member. She says we each carry a strong sense of commitment to our work. That is true of all 102 artists in the exhibition, I say. The conversation ends with commentary about how everyone appears to deconstruct their subject in order to reconstruct again – and represent it.

I speak to a mother and daughter about hereditary and environmental health issues. Her daughter is Latina, she tells me. Two works I show and (very) quickly run through in the lecture, allow for this conversation to take place. They relate, and I am more than pleased.

This is how it goes for the evening and some of the next day.


About my presentation:
Here are my slides and notations about some work.

Note: Because I am visual I would have done well to organize this image and sentence blog post before the symposium. Hindsight is 20/20. I will do it next time.

I begin with informing the audience about the questions I bring to the studio and to my work:

Who am I?
What am I?
What is this world?
What is my relationship to it?

Image #1 Male Torso – Anterior View (this work hangs in the exhibition and seen above).
Image #2 its counterpart  ↓ – Female Torso – Anterior View.

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My work is fed by my 2 practices of running and Yoga. I want to understand both the physical body and the subtle body. All my current work is influenced by scientific anatomy study (medical texts and illustrations) and Yogic philosophy.

My work expresses ideas of the masculine and feminine. I focus on balance of the two principles. These energies show up in many ways: literally as male and female, or symbolically as linear/organic. I consider associations of logic/emotion, rational/intuitive, technological/artistic.

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Image #3 – single organ renderings ↑
I’ve studied and drawn out all the organs of the body, one by one. I used to understand my organs as parts that made up the whole. That’s changed now – I see the whole within each organ, and everything is connected.

How we experience ourselves determines how we experience the world.

We are whole and interconnected.

Dependent and interdependent.

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Image #4 – Map of Phoenix
Cell as city, living organism / living organism.

A complex living organism.

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The legend helps clarify connections and unbeknownst to me at that point, will lay out the foundation for the course that I take now.

Image #5 – City as cell. State as organ. USA as system of organs. Planet as whole body.

IMG_1245Image #6 – Self Portrait ↓
Balances masculine (the brain/logic) in upper area, and the feminine (the pelvis: the enteric nervous system, immune system and genetic networks / gut, instinct, creativity) in lower are of composition.

Whole view of self – in balance.

Homeostasis.  A_Self_Portrait

Image #7 and # 9 – A study of my niece Sara, and a study of my mother↓.
Mapping out areas of the body with consideration to hereditary traits and environmental factors (in health), as well as life-style choices.

In the drawing below I make a literal connection between the brain and the gut with the mapping out of the Vagus Nerve (upper right area).

sarappImage #10 – detail of intestinal tract
I look closer and closer at the life within – to understand what activates it all.
Where is the source of this life?

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detail of small intestines

A mapping of my mother (energy) ↓ depicts the work she did (speech and hearing clinician – in upper left area).

Includes organs and parts affected by Diabetes and RA.

Included is that she birthed 6 children (ground). I’ve added skin and bone tissue in the lower layers.

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Image # 12 detail of my mother’s torso ↓
The more I look for the life source – the denser the forms become.

Living organism within living organism … and it continues.

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detail

I bring in and comment on an anatomy series based on pollinators (bee, Monarch butterfly, bat) and possibility of their  extinction.

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Anatomy Study of a Bee

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Anatomy Study of a Butterfly

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Anatomy Study of a Bat

We travel into art history –  Egyptian, Aztec, and Mayan world’s and see depictions of these creatures. I hope generations to come will continue to observe them directly. They are being effected by pesticide and genetically modified crops, among other things.

Conclusion:
A disconnect between the mind and the body is not conducive to life.

A disconnect between the thinking brain and the feeling brain create vulnerability and may lead to destruction.

I hope to inspire you to experience yourself fully, enter the body/mind, connect and consider who you are. Locate balance.

I leave the audience with these words:

 I am a complex living and creative organism. 

Who are you?
What are you?
What is this world?
And what is your relationship to it?

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a sketch

 

The evening ends with Michael Moore speaking about his experience as an artist and as a farmer. I am unable to attend day 2 of the symposium because I teach a workshop on Saturday.

I am honored to be a part of this art exhibition – one that takes in creative energy from across our country. While I already have a strong connection to my community – that sense is broadened (coast to coast) – and with that my work will continue to expand and grow. And so will I.

drawing your body’s anatomy – a workshop

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Arriving to the museum last Saturday morning, I ride up the elevator with a young woman who appears to be jogging. Are you out … for a run? I ask her. She is. It’s colder than I thought it would be, she tells me. And you came to the museum? She nods a yes and goes on to say … to warm up and maybe look around.

In the 2 trips I have made here – between the conversation in the museum with both visitors and docents, and in the city – I get the sense that the museum is a part of regular life for the local community.

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I return to Bentonville to take part in a Symposium at Crystal Bridges. The panel I present with focuses on Science in Artistic Form (I’ll talk about this another time).  This is one event in many. I also teach an anatomy drawing workshop for teens.

After the symposium on Friday night, I meet a couple who visits the museum regularly. We have a long talk about the facility and its various activities. Their daughter hoped to take my workshop but it sold out. I suggest they contact the museum and while I can’t give her a firm invite, I tell her I am open to more participants. I like the synergy of a large group. The next morning they arrive with their daughter. She attends the workshop while her parents attend the rest of the symposium. A few others join us. When everyone signs in I learn the group comes from all the surrounding areas.

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I walk into the studio to find a few artist anatomy books. Influenced by medical illustrations, I am more than excited to see that we also have one of the museum’s rare books on hand – Medical Anatomy; Illustrations of the Relative Position and Movements of the Internal Organs , Folio Size, 1869, by Francis Sibson. Earlier when I learn the museum owns this book, I ask if we can have a special showing. I explain to the class this is a rare opportunity. Anatomy! 1869! Hand-colored lithographs!

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I talk about my work and explain how we’ll proceed with the afternoon. I show one sample of a drawing and pass out postcards of my artwork – one to each participant. I explain general process including  use of color. I note that while I do look at artist anatomy books, most of my references come from medical anatomy and Yoga study sources. I mention I have a full human skeleton which is part of the video I end my introduction with. I pass out flash cards that include skeleton and muscle diagrams – and we begin.

The next 3 hours – we work out anatomy of their choosing. Class ends just as rain begins to fall in the small lake in front of the classroom. Here are photos of the productive afternoon.

A special thanks to Lori, an art instructor at Crystal Bridges, who helped me with the workshop.

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The purpose of the museum is to educate and build community – I’m glad to be a part of it.

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To go to the State of the Art website, click on the image above.

 

state of the art, discovering american art now

Crystal Bridges Museum is a venue dedicated to American art and artists, a place of learning and community.

10527760_10152614355222328_3207376333857859767_nI arrive into Bentonville, Arkansas to attend opening events for the State of the Art exhibition. The show is extraordinary in that it truly does display my contemporaries – working artists from across the United States. I receive a glimpse of where I sit in the grand picture.

My goals for coming days: Enjoy. Experience. Learn. Though I don’t ignore I’m in the show it’s not the only focus. I want to know the bigger picture. I go with artist friend Carolyn Lavender. My sister Elisa (artist), my nephew Alfonso, his wife Ethel and their daughter Pilar join us in Bentonville.

The 4 day visit to the museum begins with a private reception – 70 of the 102 artists come together along with their invited guests. Talk about a celebration. I run into 2 of the 4 Arizona artists represented, one whom I meet for the first time.

IMG_6648 The crowd moves from reception to exhibition.  I love looking at people look at the art. Here are a few highlights from the evening.

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John Salvest, Forever

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Audience looking at Jawshing Arthur Liou‘s video – Kara

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Monica Aissa Martinez, Male Torso – Anterior View

Remember my goal is to enjoy myself – I do in fact enjoy this moment ↑ seeing my work for the first time.

All of the video and sound work pulls at my attention. If only I didn’t love my brushes and paint so much. Below ↓ is a Kedgar Volta. The piece hangs a few feet from my own work. He places his audience in the role of voyeur.  I look carefully at all the people and environments in the large interactive work.

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Kedgar Volta,  False Belief that the Control Resides in Me

Across from that video I enter an installation titled Reflecting Room ↓ by artist Dan Steinhilber. The mylar installation initially makes me think of melting ice caps. The next day I sit in there a longer time and get the image of a lung – inhaling and exhaling slowly. There is a Venus of Willendorf – like figure in the space. I want to bring this environment home with me.

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Carolyn Lavender photographed in Dan Steinhilber‘s Reflecting Room

More photos from days that follow….
I  look and wonder what I’m supposed to feel, other than uncomfortable – with eyes that seem to keep following me, from a work titled Fracking Fields. ↓  Eventually I settle into and enjoy viewing these video portraits by Susie Lee.

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Susie J Lee, The Fracking Fields ( to the right)

There is so much work I want to get up close to and touch. The surface is so well executed, like these collages below.

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Mark Wagner, Overgrown Empire

IMG_6658 There are 102 artists and over 200 artworks. Two artist’s stand out even as I write this: Vincent Valdez and Vanessa L. German. ↓

Valdez’s larger than life works on paper are based on the lynching of Mexican-Americans in the state of Texas, up until the 1930’s. Think historical image placed into current structure. As a native-born and raised Texan ( I now live in Phoenix ) you can imagine how I feel learning about this in a museum, in Arkansas. I sit in front of the triptych-like display and return several times. I am familiar with Valdez and his work, but not this series.

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Vincent Valdez, The Strangest Fruit

I spend a good amount of time with the sculpture of community activist/artist Vanessa German – though not enough because I can’t sit in front of them to really be with what she calls power figures – and they are powerful, no doubt.

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Venessa L. German, White Naptha Soap or, Contemporary Lessons in Shapeshifting

Friday evening the museum hosts a lecture with curators Don Bacigalupi (now president of the museum) and Chad Alligood. The energy of the evening is high-spirited, to say the least. I recognize their connection and nature immediately upon them being introduced to the crowd.  After hearing them tell of their travels, the exhibit and their intent – I understand why I respond the way I do, to the majority of the work. At some point they take a moment to introduce artists and my sister says, as she is looking at my head, that she swears she sees it grow an inch – funny Elisa.

IMG_6676  IMG_6684 IMG_6680The New York Times article that featured a photo of my studio comes up onto the screen ↓. The image takes me back to the beginning of all this. Because of that cover my studio visit was made public – coast to coast. I received emails from across the country – and still do. John, a neighbor, reads the article and makes copies for all the other neighbors. Now they understand why they never see me outside, I’m always painting.

IMG_6681During the lecture I sit behind a young man named Anthony. He’s one of the people who contacted me during the NYT activity. Since then he’s purchased a small work. It’s kismet – so pleased to meet him in person.

Alice Walton is present and sits nearby. I take a moment to introduce myself, shake her hand and thank her.  I see her the next day in front of my artwork. It is at that time that she tells me she hopes artists stay connected – and from across the county, support each other. 1233986_10204751911428207_5102319597070244831_n Within 24-hours of returning to Phoenix, and my routine – I join an on-line group for the artists and curators from the State of the Art (SOTA).

It’s happening Ms. Walton.

The exhibit runs to January 2015, and includes many events. I hear exciting rumors but I don’t know all the facts. I will return in November.

For info about the work,  the artists, the studio visits, the curators and the organization visit The state of the Art Website.


A postscript : I planned to post a few critique links here but  I’ll let you google the info if you’re inclined. They have started coming out and as usual, opinions vary. I am enjoying reading all of them. IMG_6714 I travelled to Bentonville with an artist friend. We maneuvered though the small town and had interesting experiences with the landscape and the local community. To people whom asked, and many did, we mention why we are visiting.

On our return to the airport we make small talk with an employee of the car rental agency. The next day I receive this email (I share only some here) :

Hi Monica, … I took your advice and my wife and I went to Crystal Bridges today to see the State of the Art exhibit. It is great!!!! The contribution of each artist is so good and so creative. I liked your painting and your approach to the topic! And to think that your painting made it to the cover of the art exhibit brochure is an honor for you as well. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing more of your pieces, maybe at Crystal Bridges?! I hope so.
The mylar room was really unique. What a cool experience to see the room deflate and then expand. So creative!

Sincerely, David

Martinez_MaleTorsosmThanks Don and Chad for visiting my studio.
Thank you Alice Walton.
Thank you Randy Kennedy (writer) and Ruth Fremson (photographer).
Thank you Julie Sasse, for your support.
And special thanks to my husband who couldn’t attend the opening with me.
Thanks to everyone (including artists) who’s made it so incredible.

el paso times

martinez11Ramón Rentería Sept 6, 2014
Former El Pasoan’s work selected for prestigious exhibition

Monica Aissa Martinez calls the national attention that she’s receiving “a little bout of success.”

Martinez, an El Paso native living in Phoenix, is among 102 artists from across the United States selected for “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now,” a major exhibition opening Saturday at the prestigious Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art → continue reading