Artist Jamie Martinez at his studio with his work “Vision Mask I”.
Each spring over 100 artists and art organizations in DUMBO And Vinegar Hill open their studio doors to the public for a weekend. This year the event takes place on April 22 and 23 from 1 to 6 PM. Art Spiel created a Mixed Media Guide for this event in addition to other curated guides on the Art In Dumbo website here. In conjunction with the event Art Spiel conducted a few interviews with individual participating artists. This one is with Jamie Martinez whose multi- faceted art includes textiles, drawing, painting, sculpture, and installation.
Tell me about yourself and about your work.
My name is Jamie Martinez and I am a Colombian / American interdisciplinary artist who explores the intersection of history, research, indigenous spirituality, and ancient beliefs. My art includes paintings, sculptures, and installations, that serve as a commentary on colonialism, mysticism, and the exploitation of Central and South American land and workers by large corporations. I use art as a tool to navigate the unknown journey into the underworld, drawing inspiration from this personal obsession with the afterlife and the preparation required for the soul to reach it.
Currently, my latest artistic endeavor is motivated by research on the pre-colonial history of Central and South American cultures. I am embarking on a project to explore and challenge the colonial narrative that dominates our education systems, public spaces, and society as a whole. Specifically, I am using non-fired clay to cover books that contain accounts of the conquistadors, effectively encapsulating and obscuring the text. The books will then be decorated with Native American artwork, highlighting and reclaiming the narrative of the land and the indigenous peoples who have been present in America for centuries and continue to be so.
What will we see in your studio at DUMBO Open Studio?
In my studio, you will witness the ongoing series of no-fired clay sculptures infused with enchantments, alongside my latest creations that delve into the historical narrative of the conquistadors and colonialism. I have also started a new series of paintings that are simple and child-like, taking me back to my early days in Colombia and the process of learning how to associate images with pronunciation.
Jamie Martinez, Teotihuacan Spider Woman Protective Underworld Shield, 2023, Mesh, ink, paint, spell, and oil pastel on unfired clay, 22” H x 25” W x 5” D approx.
Jamie Martinez, Mercado, 2022, Imitation half-avocados, avocados, bananas, banana racks, corn, real cacao beans, real plate, real knife covered with non fired clay, pillows, jute bags on used Colombian coffee sacks, 65 L x 65 W x 14 H inches
During Dumbo Open Studios, you will see my latest series Mercado, where I shed light on the consequences of greed and the harm it causes to the land and people. It is intended to comment on the persistent exploitation of land and labor in Central and South America by major corporations that prioritize profit and wealth above all else. The installation is composed of a pile of clay bananas, avocados, cocoa beans, and corn arranged atop used Colombian coffee burlap sacks, as well as several small burlap bags. Through this artwork, I seek to emphasize the harmful effects of overproduction for export by these companies, which results in gross underpayment of the workers responsible for producing these goods. The companies can channel more resources towards their executives while ignoring the plight of laborers who work in substandard conditions for meager pay.
About the Artist:
Jamie Martinez (b. Ibagué, Colombia) is an interdisciplinary artist who explores the intersection of history, research, indigenous spirituality, and ancient beliefs. His art includes paintings, sculptures, and installations, that serve as a commentary on colonialism, mysticism, and the exploitation of Central and South American land and workers by large corporations. In his latest series “Mercado”, he sheds light on the consequences of greed and the harm it causes to the land and people. Additionally, Jamie uses art as a tool to navigate the unknown journey into the underworld, drawing inspiration from his personal obsession with the afterlife and the preparation required for the soul to reach it. Recently, Jamie experienced a life-altering fire that destroyed everything, yet he believes that the art he created protected him during that moment of darkness.
His work has been featured in major outlets such as Hyperallergic, CNN, New York Magazine, The Observer, New York Magazine, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Yale University radio WYBCX, NTN24 (TV interview), Good Day New York (TV interview), Fox News (TV interview), Whitehot Magazine, Whitewall Magazine, and more. He has also exhibited at the Queens Musuem, Spring Break Art Show, Petzel Gallery, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery at the New School, Galerie Richard, Whitebox NY, The Gabarron Foundation, Flowers Gallery, Elga Wimmer PCC, Foley Gallery, Rush Gallery, and many more. Jamie is the publisher of Arte Fuse, a contemporary art platform, and the founder and director of The Border Project Space featured in Hyperallergic’s top 15 shows of 2018.