Artists on Coping: Jamie Martinez

During the Coronavirus pandemic, Art Spiel is reaching out to artists to learn how they are coping.

Jamie Martinez in front of “Neo Kingdom”, a virtual Reality Installation with artist Erin Ko for the group show ” Speculative Cultures” curated by Tina Sauerlaender, Peggy Schoenegge, and Erandy Vergara at the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons/The New School.

Jamie Martinez uses the concept of triangulation throughout his work. His new work is a series of spells and poems to protect him and guide him through his journey into the underworld. The spells/poems are based on the Mayan language which used logograms complemented with a set of syllabic glyphs. The process begins with a meditation session to reveal a vision/message for each piece then it’s translated using Mayan glyphs.

Jamie Martinez, “I Am One with the Jaguar” (shrine), embroidered painting, clay sculptures, wood boat with sculpture inside, cacao, salt, coffee, gold and silver leaves, moss, dirt, crystals, herbs, 50 x 50 inches, 2020

AS: How are you coping?

JM: I live in Hell’s Kitchen and I seem to be doing OK at this time. I am glad that two weeks ago I made one last trip to my studio in Dumbo, BK and grabbed as many art supplies as I could carry back to my apartment. This allows me to keep working on smaller paintings and new sculptures. Since I am stuck at home all day, at least I can create pieces to help me deal with this crisis and the never-ending sirens in my neighborhood. I have to play loud music all day so they don’t keep distracting me while I work.

Jamie Martinez, “Permission”, Clay, paint, spell, marker, wood, dirt, live snake plants, caulk, 36 x 26 x 18 inches, 2020

AS: Has your routine changed?

JM: My routine has changed drastically. I love being outside and taking trips to my studio, gallery, the beach in the summer and to see art. I’m used to seeing at least ten shows per week, which is one of my favorite pass times. The last show I saw was by Daniel Lind-Ramos at Marlborough Gallery. It’s a killer and one of the best shows I have seen in a while. Now, I take 3 walks around my block to get out of the apartment; one in the morning, afternoon then at night around 7pm so I can hear the people cheering the medical workers that are sacrificing their lives to help sick and dying people.

Jamie Martinez, “Spell for the Vision Serpent”, paint, marker and scratches on clay, 10 x 6 inches, 2020

AS: Can you describe some of your feelings about all this?

JM: Right now I am feeling OK and since I meditate a lot, it helps to deal with the feelings that arise. It’s hard to concentrate and work with all of this going on as we speak but I will keep at it.

Jamie Martinez, “Dresden Codex Leaves 1 – 4”, paint, marker and scratches on clay, 24.4 x 10 inches each, 55 x 55 inches (together), 2020

AS: What matters most right now?

JM: At this moment I am mostly worried for my mother in Florida. She’s all I have. I always go with what I am given and right now, I have no choice but to stay home for my safety and the safety of others. I also worry about my brothers and my friends. I wish them all a healthy and safe quarantine.

Jamie Martinez, “The Journey”, caulk, paint, oil stick, pastel sticks and thread on canvas, 18 x 24 inches, 2020

AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?

JM: I think we have to take things as they come. It is out of our hands and at this moment, health and surviving the epidemic is more important than art but in times like these, it’s when the best work is done which is why I am creating from home. Thanks for taking the time to check on how artists are coping with the situation here in New York. We’ll be back stronger.

Jamie Martinez, “Metamorphosing into an Owl”, paint, spell, marker and scratches on clay, 5 x 3 inches, 2020

All Photos courtesy of the artist.

Etty Yaniv works on her art, art writing and curatorial projects in Brooklyn. She founded Art Spiel as a platform for highlighting the work of contemporary artists, including art reviews, studio visits, interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. For more details contact by Email:

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