Exhibition at Keshet Center for the Arts
March 11 – 28, 2020
Opening Talk and Reception: Wednesday, March 11, 5:00pm – 6:30pm
Presented in conjunction with Revolutions International Theater Festival.
The tapestries of Wence and Sandra Martinez celebrate weaving’s tradition of preserving symbol and myth. For over 50 years, Wence has utilized traditional Zapotec looms and hand-spun, hand-dyed Churro wool to weave original designs that reflect his love of pattern and tonal variation. Since 1988, Wence has also worked in collaboration with Sandra to translate her Symbolist paintings into tapestry. Sandra’s imagery references human, plant and shelter forms that evoke a shared experience transcending borders, race and language.
Wence Martinez: Statement
Weaving, for me, is like performing jazz. I rely on the foundational training I received at home in Teotitlán and in my formal studies in Mexico City to elevate basic materials and processes into fine art. My geometric designs investigate motif and color beyond Zapotec patterns and palettes. I look for ways to respect and honor my ancestors while I create new designs inspired by landscapes, beadwork and other patterns in our everyday world. When I work with my wife Sandra to translate her Symbolist paintings into weavings, we collaborate to enhance composition and color detail. As each weaving is produced, I intuitively work with tonal variations and shifting lines to create curves and nuanced balance. My life at the loom provides many quiet hours of methodic centering as I improvise within the structure and rhythms of each design.
Wence Martinez: Bio
I was born in 1959 in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico, and spent my childhood shepherding and learning to weave under my father and grandfather. At age 14, a scholarship in weaving took me to Taller Nacional de Tapiz in Mexico City. Under Bertha and Pedro Preux I studied Gobelins, natural and aniline dyeing techniques, and embraced weaving design as fine art. In 1988 I met Sandra (Hackbarth) Martinez, an artist from Milwaukee. Our artistic collaboration culminated in establishing Martinez Studio 25 years ago in Door County, Wisconsin. One of my greatest joys is to mentor my daughter and son in law as they weave original Martinez Studio designs and learn master skills.
Awards: 2018 United States Artists Fellowship for Collaborative Craft, 2017 Finalist for Rare Craft Fellowship from American Craft Council, 2019 Excellence in Fibers IV: Wall/Floor Works.
Collections: Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, WI; National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago
Sandra Martinez: Statement
Metamorphosis takes place each time one of my drawings is translated into a weaving. My Symbolist works on paper are intuitive and meditative. Taking inspiration from Surrealists, my process begins with contour drawings that reference human, plant and shelter forms. I draw directly on book pages and antique manuscripts and apply various mediums to the surface. Gestural washes of acrylic paint, Sumi ink and other materials build up in my work. Some areas are rubbed, erased, cut, collaged, or laden with dirt. Select works are then chosen with my husband, master weaver Wence Martinez, to be handwoven into tapestries. Next, I draw the full-size cartoon that weavers use to mark the design on the loom’s warp and consult with Wence on color. His skillful oversight unites with inherent nuances of hand-spun, hand-dyed Churro wool, to achieve gracefully woven curves and rich tonal variation. Line by line, my designs are given new life as they are transformed into functional textiles.
Sandra Martinez: Bio
I attended University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and majored in Studio Art, with wholehearted intention to build a career as a ceramics artist. Under the mentorship of David Damkoehler, I became influenced by the time-honored use of drawing as a vehicle for spiritual focus and exploration. My art took a new direction and thus began a nearly 40-year-long meditative drawing practice that continues today. Since 1988, I have collaborated with my husband, Wence, on tapestry design. This allows me to tap into textile’s historic role of communicating and preserving story and myth.
Awards: 2018 United States Artists Fellowship for Collaborative Craft, 2017 Finalist for Rare Craft Fellowship from American Craft Council, 2019 Excellence in Fibers IV: Wall/Floor Works, 2017 Bronze Exhibitors’ Choice, Smithsonian Craft Show, 2016 Silver Award for Overall Excellence, Smithsonian Craft Show.
Collections: Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, WI; Miller Art Museum, Sturgeon Bay, WI.