Eiteljorg Musuem Blog

Meet 2015 Invited Artist Mario Martinez

by Ashley Holland, Assistant Curator of Native American Art | Nov 13, 2015
Over the next few days, the Eiteljorg blog will profile the 2015 Fellows who will be featured in the upcoming Eiteljorg Fellowship exhibition, CONVERSATIONS. An opening celebration for this exhibit will be held on Nov. 13. Details below!

What follows is an excerpt from the invited artist statement of Mario Martinez (Pascua Yaqui). You can read more about the artist and his work in Mario Martinez: Reigning Yaqui of New York City by Jennifer Complo McNutt in the 2015 Eiteljorg Fellowship exhibition catalog, available in the museum store.

Mario Martinez
(Pascua Yaqui)


My work has always been about nature and my inner response to it. Nature is also the basis for the original Yaqui religion before the introduction of Catholicism in the first decade of the 17th Century. The visual vehicle for my paintings, drawings, prints and murals, has been Western Modernism from its beginnings in the 19th Century to The New York School, and abstraction into the late 20th Century. To the present, our most ancient spiritual and ceremonial traditions honor the earth and the heavens. For the Yaquis, the Sonoran Desert is alive and has power.

Mario Martinez-The Conversation
The Conversation
, 2004
Acrylic and charcoal on canvas
Collection: Eiteljorg Museum
Photography by Hadley Fruits

The Sonoran Desert has supernatural domains such as the Flower World (Sea Ania) and the Enchanted World (YoAnia). Those worlds are where our original spiritual and ceremonial traditions such as The Yaqui Deer Dance come from. The Flower World is nature at its most beautiful and the flower remains for the Yaquis the most potent symbol for nature and spirituality. Therefore, flowers keep reappearing throughout my long history of painting. Natural forms in my works appear through an intuitive process and seem to be my way to embed Yaqui cultural concepts into the great tradition of western modernist abstract painting.That said, abstraction in many forms has been present in all cultures throughout history. For me, the Sonoran Desert and Yaquiness have never left me and are ever-present even in New York City. The energy of city life influences my paintings and sometimes can even be seen in the structure of my work. The following is in the native realm and is in my own small way honoring nature: I talk to trees in New York City just like I did and still talk to the mesquite trees in Arizona.

Mario Martinez-Superior Mindscape
Superior Mindscape (for Robert Rauschenberg)
, 2015
Acrylic on paper
Courtesy of the artist
Photography by Hadley Fruits

runs from Nov. 14, 2015 - Feb. 28, 2016. Please join us for the opening of the exhibition on Nov. 13. The Eiteljorg Museum will honor the five Native Fellowship winners with an intimate gathering celebrating the artists. Guests will also enjoy a performance by Indigenous. End out the evening with the Contemporary Arts Party featuring Indigenous, Supaman, and DJ Kyle Long.

Friday, NOV 13
Opening Celebration!
5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Celebration
6 - 6:30 p.m.      Indigenous performs
6:30 - 7:15 p.m. Program
Cost: $40 [includes admission to Contemporary Arts Party]

Contemporary Arts Party
8 - 9 p.m             Indigenous performs
9:45 - Midnight Supaman, DJ Kyle Long
Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the door

Click here to purchase your ticket.

Luzene is one of five 2015 Fellows and her artwork will be featured in the exhibition CONVERSATIONS: The Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, opening Nov. 13. This biennial program recognizes the accomplishments of one invited and four juried Fellows, which are chosen by a panel of independent experts. As part of the Fellowship, each artist receives a $25,000 unrestricted cash award and their work is exhibited and further explored in an accompanying catalog. In addition, the museum purchases a total of over $100,000 worth of art from the Fellows for the permanent collection, adding to a body of work that has given the Eiteljorg Museum a collection of Native contemporary art that has been referred to as the “greatest in the world.”
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