querencia, derived from the Spanish verb querer meaning “to want or desire,” roughly translates to “a homing place where one draws comfort, strength, and inspiration.” For Martínez, her querencia is rooted within her ancestral ties to New Mexico, its vernacular adobe and stucco architecture, its traditions in embroidery and basketry; all of which converge and coalesce within her abstract and minimalistic works. This connection to a place, negotiated between fixed elements of one’s heritage and its mutable experience in the immediate present, grounds Martínez’s practice as it fluctuates over time while demanding nurture and respect.
Repetition plays significantly within Martínez’s works, whose tessellated patterns embrace a slowness both in process and reception. Though an attention to detail and uniformity across her surfaces may signal a mechanical means of production, Martínez in fact constructs her works entirely by hand. Inventing her own language of geometric abstraction, fashioning stencils or “profiles” of undulating shapes as distinct units of measurement, she maps out and carves her sculptures into discrete building blocks with infinite possible configurations. By transforming found materials such as foam, wood, and plaster using natural pigments, she reimagines elements commonly associated with the built environment into earthy, topographical terrains, equipped with a tectonic sense of movement.
Martínez’s subtractive modeling in her carved pieces is counterbalanced by the additive assemblage of her woven works. Straddling between ornament and implement, these straw- and wool-laced structures not only assert their object-like status, but also analogize for Martínez, her efforts to build a state or network of interconnectivity. As she attunes to her forms and materials with a steady, meditative intensity, her ritualized process becomes one of healing and self-care. Throughout her multi-faceted works, Martínez demonstrates the complexities of cultivating one’s querencia, threaded across a distant homeland, the roll of one’s mother tongue, the safeguards of a familial home, or a feeling of contentedness within the body.