she's a BEAST. Artist, Victoria Martinez

    You can see her smile & feel her upbeat energy from miles away, I first met Victoria last year during Chicago Home Theater Festival, she was doing an installation in my apartment but I had never met her. Here this spunky lady comes up the stairs & says "I've got wine!" I was fascinated by all of the colors, patterns and sparkles she was pulling out of her bag, she had flowers and lots of love and I knew I wanted to keep every piece of her even after the night was over. Victoria is a BEAST, she's always moving, making and exhibiting and now is a better time than ever for you to know who she is.

RM: Who is Victoria Martinez? 

VM: Victoria Martinez is an interdisciplinary artist and educator from Pilsen. She explores collage, installation, site-specific intervention, painting, soft sculpture, and printmaking. The urban environment fascinates Martinez and she goes on extensive walks collecting materials, savoring memories ignited by landmarks, and locating spaces to respond to. She believes in chance, intuition, ephemeral experiences, and participatory practices. Martinez has collaborated with youth, special education teenagers, and senior citizens in various Chicago communities including Pilsen, Brainerd, Midway, Gage Park, Englewood, Bronzeville, and Edgewater. She has also led mural, installation and intervention projects in Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador and is currently preparing to facilitate mixed media mural classes at Namaste Charter School in the McKinley Park neighborhood.

RM: When did you fall in love with art?

   VM: I was drawn to collage and knew at the age of six that I would grow up to be an artist. Art and literature were the best subjects in school so I spent my free time cutting text from magazines and combining them with techniques taught by art instructors.
Other memories include being bored at church, admiring stained glass windows and the colors casted onto the marble floor as the sun was setting every Sunday evening. I appreciated how subtle the hues were and the way they disappeared once the sun was gone. Color has always been significant to me and I would try to recreate these specific moments by sandwiching Crayola shavings between wax paper and ironing them at home.  

RM:You work mostly with beautiful colors & patterns, is this inspired by your Mexican culture?

VM: Parts of the textile selections I include in my projects are connected to my Mexican culture. I grew up in a home where my mother purchased a lot of home decorations from thrift stores so our place was very eclectic with mismatching patterns and color. She always emphasized the   ‘make do’ concept and improvised various art projects and recipes, which has deeply inspired my practice now that I think about it.

 RMWhat has it been like being an emerging artist of color here in Chicago?

VM: It’s been fun! I’m happy I returned to Chicago after graduating from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Chicago has presented many opportunities to teach, exhibit, and participate in performances and artist talks. I appreciate the art community here and grateful for the friends and colleagues who believe in my practice. I hope to further develop these friendships and collaborate on large-scale projects in the future. 

RM: Best advice you could give someone interested in being an artist?

VM: Keep a sketchbook and collect items that interest you. Write about your daily experiences even if it’s only three words. Ride on public transportation and explore different communities. Remember to be independent but remember that we are also interdependent. Allow yourself to make mistakes, travel whenever you can, and when in doubt listen to “Keep pushin” by Boris Dlugosch. (I listened to it as I wrote & it's great!) 

RM: Something you want people to know about you?

VM: I’m 5’2”, love getting lost in foreign countries, and plan on collaborating with scientists once the time is right.  

RM: Any upcoming projects, exhibitions? 

VMDuring the spring, I will be participating in Material Normal Monumental at the Riverside Arts Center with fellow artists Jorge Lucero, Alberto Aguilar, Maria Gaspar, Edra Soto, and Rafael E. Soto. I recently completed a residency at ACRE over the summer and will be exhibiting my work at ACRE Projects. Marwen awarded me with an alumni scholarship to attend the residency and will be planning an artist talk with ACRE curators and myself. La Keisha Leek also invited me to showcase artwork in an exhibition she is curating at Comfort Station over the summer. My work will be featured in a book titled The Pattern Base: Over 550 Contemporary Textile and Surface Designs to be distributed in libraries at art schools, and I plan to travel abroad to create street interventions through a residency program in the Caribbean.

You can view more of Victoria's work on her website
She also sent us the link to Keep Pushin

Lots of Love & Light to Victoria, as you can see she's definitely a BEAST!