Malleability of art and self
During her four years at Denison, Nancy Martinez ’16, a Bachelor of Fine Arts major from Chicago, has forged relationships with her professors that have strengthened and challenged her, and have opened insights into her own abilities.
“While I value so much what made up my experience in studio art classes, it is the dedicated professors who I will never forget and who have made a huge difference in my work,” says Martinez.
“Giving credit to one professor would be unjust; I have three amazing women that have gone out of their way to ensure that I was getting the knowledge I needed to be successful,” she said. “They are all great mentors and they all created an environment for me to explore my own interests. Even during the times that I was not taking classes with them, I knew I could count on them for feedback and advice about projects I was currently working on. There was never a time they were not willing to talk to me about my work or other ideas.”
Martinez took her first art class with Micaela Vivero, associate professor of art and chair of the department. Vivero supported Martinez and urged her to continue her work as an artist. “Nancy produces meaning through the art she makes, as it works as a catalyst of experiences. She uses art as a way of investigating and communicating,” she said.
Carrie Olsen, an associate professor of art who specializes in ceramics, introduced Martinez to nontraditional materials, which she now incorporates in much of her work.
“I remember one critique that I had with Carrie, she told me how terrible my painting was and then told me ‘I’m telling you this because I know you can handle it.’ It was such a humbling experience and I knew that I could always count on her to give me an honest opinion on my work. After all this is how we grow,” Martinez said.
And Martinez also references Sheilah Wilson, an associate professor whose genre is photography. “Sheilah has always pushed me out of my comfort zone and was always asking me to check out books on artists that influenced me, it was terrible at first but I thank her now for making it a habit.”
In her exhibitions, Martinez used wax and rubber, pushing them to their extremes to test their fragility and express her viewpoint.
“I am impressed by the ability of forms to build a story in a painting or a sculpture,” she says. “Since my wax pieces are fragile objects they are only temporary. Working with wax therefore allows me to preserve a moment in time—the preservation is not always loyal to the actual moment, but neither are our memories.”
“What characterizes Nancy’s work is the commitment she has to explore how a material can work to articulate what she has in mind. She pushes the ability of the materials she uses to their limit, making them do what any other person could not even dream of,” says Vivero. “Be it glass, plaster, wax or rubber, she makes the materials work in her terms. This has taken her to produce artworks that are visually engaging and conceptually very powerful.”