The Jane Hartsook Gallery is pleased to present new work by A.M Martens. In her artwork, Martens uses everyday objects and spaces to reveal the inner structures that shape our individual points of view. In this installation, Martens uses imagery and personal recollections from exploring construction sites with her family as a child to consider the way experiences and relationships shape us and the way memory can be a window into our subjectivity.
In the wall-mounted works, Martens invites us to think about how our recollections, however factually incorrect, can illustrate personal truths. These slabs are fractured re-creations of a photograph of Martens and her sister at the construction site of their family home. The image captured a moment Martens did not know she had misremembered until re-discovering the photograph years later. She realized her memory of it described her connection to her family members better than it did the moment captured in the photograph. Martens made these slabs by screen-printing the picture onto drywall using oxide washes, putting the drywall onto a clay slab and then glazing the work in its entirety. The drywall cracks in the heat of the glaze firing, changing the original image, similar to the way Martens’s memory was distorted over time.
Martens expands on this idea in her installation of wooden beams and porcelain nails. Struck by the novelty of being able to move through unfinished walls when she explored building sites as a child, Martens has reimagined these internal spaces as a liminal place between events and our internalization of them. Experiences and relationships accumulate, shaping our identities and daily lives even though we do not actively think about the way this happens. Martens likens this to the way that nails surround us, holding together the buildings we live and work in, despite how little thought we give them. By making facsimile nails out of porcelain instead of using common steel nails, Martens encourages us to think about the way seemingly inconsequential moments are valuable parts of our perspectives. Like the structure of a home, our interpersonal interactions shape our understanding of the world and are the foundation of who we are.
Martens grew up in South Dakota, which continues to inform her artistic process. She began creating installations while obtaining her MA in Studio Art at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Martens continued her education at Michigan State University where she was awarded a University Distinguished Fellowship and obtained an MFA. After graduating she became the Ceramics Artist in Residence at Kansas State University. Martens has exhibited her work throughout the United States including at Axis Gallery (Sacramento, CA); Gallerie Noir (Dallas, TX); Red Lodge Clay Center (Red Lodge, MT); Schacht Gallery (Saratoga, NY); Sculpture Center (Cleveland, OH); and Sullivan Galleries (Chicago, IL). She currently lives in Chicago and is the Ceramics Studio Manager at the School of the Art Institute.