Other Investigations: Victoria Martinez

Based in Chicago, Victoria Martinez is an interdisciplinary artist who explores materials through installation, site-specific interventions, collage, fibers, and printmaking. Make Space featured her work back in 2012, and then a few months later highlighted her studio process. This past summer while visiting ACRE residency, Etta and I caught up with Victoria and spoke with her about what she had been making and the processes she was experimenting with. For this post, we asked her about the new things happening in her practice and about her experience at ACRE in Steuben, WI.

Victoria recently exhibited at EXPO Chicago through the National Museum of Mexican Art and Terrain Exhibitions. She is participating several upcoming group exhibitions, including at the President’s Gallery at Harold Washington College Currently, she is working on embroidery and weaving experiments that will be showcased in an upcoming ACRE exhibition as well as an upcoming exhibition at Riverside Art Center. Victoria is also contributing a collaborative piece in Christopher Cozier’s in DEVELOPMENT project, which includes an installation created with her students at the Interlochen Center for the Arts this past summer. Her work will also be featured in the book The Pattern Base: Over 550 Contemporary Textile and Surface Designs, which will be released in June 2015.

'Labyrinth Field,' 2014, site-specific intervention Photo by Gilberto Gutierrez
Labyrinth Field, 2014.

What processes and concepts are you exploring in your current body of work?

“The projects that I am currently working on include mixed media pieces that include latch hooking, embroidery and nail polish on bed sheets. I am also ideating project plans for outdoor spaces in Trinidad and gathering materials from my past and eye scanning during every walk to collect items for upcoming weaving games to be transformed into installation. The urban environment is a lovely place and I’m steady admiring the cracks, construction sites, and forgotten ropes and staples on surfaces. The relationship between my current and past works include color, nostalgia, memory, and materials. I notice that I find pleasure working with plastic tablecloths lately and enjoy painting layers above this material. Then I stitch it and stuff it with materials lying around from past projects. There’s something about the transparency and quality of the material that hypnotizes me to explore it. I have been weaving with plastic and making soft sculptures that I love so much, I leave it on the streets of Pilsen in hope that someone else gets a good experience from it. I am also experimenting with tarps and photographs with ideas to collaborate with local marketplaces and groups of youth in Logan Square.”

What kinds of things do you research or look at?

“The things that I research include the urban landscape. In my eyes, it’s one of the most beautiful things life has to offer. I study as many details as possible when I go for walks and bike rides and take a photo and mental documentation of my experiences. Some examples include layers of grey concrete patches covering past mistakes, cracks on the walls, the decaying wallpaper at Laundromats, rusted staples on grocery store walls, handwritten advertisements, fences, and found party streamers. I collect some of these items and take it to my studio to continue studying it. I either recreate or trace some of the shapes from what I’ve gathered to begin a painting or embroidery or utilize the actual object into my projects. This is very important to my practice because I believe that the magic exists in items living within the urban canvas. There’s so much geometry that I must invite and play with within these spaces.”

“I am seduced by color and love the endless possibilities of materials.”

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Heartbeat Gamble, 2014.

What kinds of projects or adventures did you participate in while at ACRE? What was the most valuable aspect of this residency in particular?

“My experience at ACRE was wonderful. I worked hard in my temporary studio, took weaving workshops, explored nature, went on long walks to experience strange birds and deer before dinner, met solid artists, worked in the woodshop and screenprinting studio, and talked to the other residents when I wasn’t on a mission to complete projects. I experienced artist presentations, plays, and funny fires after long days of working and exploring mother earth. The projects that I worked on included weaving, site-specific installation accompanied with a video created by my roommate, painting, sculpture, screenprinting, creating frames from scrap wood, and exploring plastic. I would say that the most valuable aspect of the residency was the visiting artists. I had extensive conversations with Jason Lazurus, Abigail Satinsky, Anthony Romero, Lise Haller Baggesen Ross, Jordan Martins, and Stephanie Syjuco during my studio visits and learned so much more about myself as an artist by talking with them. They were all very inspiring, supportive, and believe in what I’m doing as a woman artist in her 20s. The visits were a refreshing experience and I left ACRE feeling great. It was so much fun, I savored every moment.