By His Stripes, Wax, Graphite, Acrylic, Bandanna on Wood, 24 x 24 in., 2015
After earning his Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from Columbia College in Chicago last spring, Cleveland native, Chicago-based multidisciplinary artist Martinez E-B returns to Northeast Ohio to reveal just how far he’s come since he left for grad school just a couple of years ago. Martinez E-B’s So, Let Them Have Color
opens with an artist’s reception at the Beck Center for the Arts on Friday, Feb. 12, from 6 to 8 p.m.
So, Let Them Have Color
is an intellectually challenging series of paintings and collages that re-contextualize color, signs, flags, mementos and the notion of social belonging. The exhibition includes work first launched at the Beck Center, and made during his time between graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art and moving to Chicago; as well as more recent work created during a residency at Side Street Studio Arts in Chicago.
“There is a certain aura, power and authority that color, objects and images can have for particular groups of people,” Martinez E-B explains. “We have the right to pull from the world around us and place specific aspects of it into our own setting, thus creating new meaning. I intentionally complicate and re-contextualize those objects, images, signs, and symbols. Through a multidisciplinary process, I attempt to interrogate the complex relationship between us and the visual language that identify us, tell our histories, give power and expression to us, and at times hold us hostage.”
His home and upbringing continue to influence his work to this day.
“I grew up on East 105th between Superior and St. Clair,” Martinez E-B elaborates. “This is very crucial to my work, because much of the imagery i use come from growing up there. Key thing, I was born and raised entirely in the city of Cleveland. We hold a different type of deep love/hate with our city as we had to deal directly with it.”
Martinez E-B received his BFA in Painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2012, but even before graduation, he was exploring interdisciplinary work, including installation and illustration.
“I am intrigued by the way behaviors, beliefs and values are absorbed by people without thinking about them. My work seeks to force an examination of those unquestioned things, especially by considering the aura and authority that objects and images can have for a particular group of people. By way of installation, video, sound, performance, painting and writing, I intentionally complicate and re-contextualize those objects, images, signs, and symbols. Through a multi-disciplinary process, I attempt to interrogate the complex relationship between us and the objects and imagery that identify us, tell our histories, give power and expression to us, and at times hold us hostage.”
In addition to his multidisciplinary gallery-based work, Martinez E-B was commissioned by Rid-All Corporation co-founder Damien Forshe to co-create Brink City: Green in the Ghetto
, a series of comic books designed to communicate the importance of environmental issues to non-traditional and hard to reach audiences, with special emphasis on urban youth. Martinez E-B finished the final pages of the latest edition during his last semester at Columbia. The Brink City comic series is scheduled for a total of 12 issues. The origin of Brink City can be traced back to a summer job Martinez held with Rid-All Corporation’s green pest control company. In 2012, Brink City was adapted for the stage by writer and director Marvin Wright-Bey at Karamu House.
In conjunction with the Beck Center for the Arts, the Cleveland Institute of Art brings Martinez E-B back to his alma mater to discuss his recent work and new exhibition as part of CIA’s Lunch on Fridays lecture series. Martinez E-B will discuss his CIA Speak with me, Show with me
project and his solo show at the Beck Center.
“Speak with me Show with me
is a project I put together between Beck and CIA that will allow me to pull a few students out of the institute and into a new space where they can speak and share their experiences as students with an audience of high schoolers, he explains. “They will also be allowed the chance to show one work on my opening night. I hope this will be continuing thing as I will show in Cleveland from time to time.”
So, Let Them Have Color
remains on view at the Beck Center for the Arts through March 16.
(Beck Center) 17801 Detroit Ave., 216-521-2540, beckcenter.org