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Sandra

A symbolist painter from Milwaukee, Sandra Martinez renders contemporary works on paper that reference human, plant, and shelter forms. Her designs evoke a shared human experience that transcends borders, race, and language. Select studies, chosen in collaboration with Wence, are handwoven into tapestries. Sandra’s mixed media works are float-mounted in shadowbox frames.

  • Blue Mesa
    Painting
    27" x 21"
  • White Mesa
    Painting
    18.25" x 15.5"
  • Smoke Mesa
    Painting
    18.25" x 15.5"
  • Lift
    Painting
    21" x 17.25"
  • Black Mesa Study
    Collage
    16.25" x 12.25"
  • Etch Study
    Collage
    15.25" x 15.25"
  • Rise Study
    Collage
    13.25" x 13.25"
  • Shimmer Study
    Collage
    13" x 13"
  • Reach Study
    Collage
    14" x 15"
  • Codice 296
    Book Page
    14.5" x 12.5"
  • Fragment of a Queen Study
    Painting
    42" x 34"
  • Flora Split Study
    Painting
    17" x 17"
  • Flora Study
    Painting
    17" x 17"
  • Totem Study
    Painting
    32.25" x 23.25"
  • Niño Study
    Painting
    29.75" x 28.25"
  • Cuna Study
    Painting
    31.25" x 20.75"
  • Mesa Triad
    Painting
    17" x 15"
  • Agua Study
    Collage
    11" x 10"
  • Tronco Study
    Painting
    44.75" x 27"
  • Codice 231
    Book Page
    14.5" x 12.5"
  • Codice 233
    Book Page
    14.5" x 12.5"
  • Incar
    Painting
    37" x 27.75"
  • Parada
    Painting
    37.5" x 28"
  • Codice 79
    Book Page
    14.5" x 12.5"
  • Codice 89
    Book Page
    14.5" x 12.5"
  • Codice 100
    Book Page
    14.5" x 12.5"
  • Codice 101
    Book Page
    14.5" x 12.5"
  • Pilot Study
    Painting
    12" x 7.5"
  • Kiss Study
    Painting
    16" x 14"
  • Figuras Runner Study
    Painting
    10" x 22"
  • Juego Study
    Painting
    15" x 16"
  • Vessels Shift Study
    Painting
    10" x 16"
  • Vessels Study
    Painting
    45" x 31"
  • Madre Criolla
    Painting
    36" x 16"
  • Desfile
    Painting
    10" x 21"

My process is meditative and explores automatic drawing and writing as a vehicle for spiritual focus. What begins as stream of consciousness content transitions into layers of ink, ash, dirt and acrylic washes that reveal human, plant, and shelter forms.

One of my earliest art memories is digging in the sandbox to discover hidden layers of clay which I then shaped into objects. My immediate, obsessive response to this material led to formal study in ceramics. Halfway through my bachelor’s degree at University of Wisconsin Green Bay, I discovered a love of meditative drawing that opened new paths for my life.

My wide range of influences included Haitian cut metal sculpture, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Keith Haring, and Surreal and Conceptual artists who broke free from traditional methods and materials. My mentor David Damkoehler affirmed my pursuits and encouraged me to develop my own symbolic language to give visual expression to my emotions and ideas.

At age twenty-eight, a friend suggested that my drawings would translate well into weavings. A weaver in Oaxaca named Wence Martinez jumped at the challenge. His woven translation of my drawing sparked a desire to meet this man. At our first meeting in person in 1988, I commissioned fourteen new works, initiating a cross-cultural relationship and artistic collaboration that now spans thirty years.

To view Sandra’s resume, click here.

Sandra’s symbolist works on paper are intuitive and meditative. Taking inspiration from surrealists her process begins with loose contour drawings that can be read as abstracted human, plant, and shelter forms.

While often using book pages and antique manuscripts as her blank canvas, Sandra’s favorite painting materials are sumi ink, marker, acrylic, dirt, sand, ash, and recycled fragments of earlier paintings. Handwritten text is sometimes present but usually obliterated or obscured.

Gestural washes in a minimal palette build up in her work. Some areas are rubbed, erased, cut, collaged, or laden with dirt. The resulting surfaces range from sparse to thick.

Select drawings are expanded into larger painting series and some become weaving studies. She then draws the full-size cartoon weavers use to mark her design on the loom’s warp.

Sandra finishes her paintings by float mounting the work in shadow box frames.