JoAnne Artman Gallery is pleased to present, Seeing America, an exhibition of new portraits that investigate humanity, legacy, and change. Freehandedly and unapologetically capturing her subjects, America Martin’s compositions are a personal reflection of the human experience and condition. Through the stories they tell by means of history and Martin’s depictions, this assembled group of leaders challenge us to be our very best selves.
With emphasis on narration and the tales that emerge through the framework of gesture and contour, Martin examines the impact of activism and heroism. In a bold statement that champions everyday kindnesses and small, sustained steps toward change, the series includes legends of the past and present, as well as unsung figures. Rendered in streamlined ink drawings, each portrait is emblematic of both passion and action.
Navigating epic themes of courage, sacrifice, and the ways that changing political and philosophical systems affected the choices and enduring legacies of her subjects, Martin’s experimentation with line weight takes on a new balance between solidity and weight. Breathing life into each portrait by alternating smooth, bold curves with hard, geometric strokes, Martin adheres to the most fundamental aspect of drawing - the line - to tell the stories of these heroes.
Pairing a quote with each likeness, Martin implores visitors to consider the core values of leadership embodied in the series—justice, integrity, empathy, and a call to action. According to Martin,
"Heroes and villains have many of the same qualities. They have flaws and weaknesses, but the one difference, that is literally magic, is that the hero is capable of change. The hero is capable of having a perspective shift and then doing something about it."
Also introducing Jada and Jon, vintage chain stitchers and treasure hunters. Exploring American heritage and identity, Jada and Jon’s process of reworking and recycling old vintage pieces combines American craft with art history. Delving into concepts of utility, community, individuality, and symbolism—their unique aesthetic invites a deeper understanding of folk art and its role in people’s lives. Embellishing, painting, and embroidering their discoveries, Jada and Jon’s decorations reflect cultural ideas, prevailing trends, and the elevation of mundane objects into works of art. No rain, no flowers.
These artists’ work will inspire, provoke, engage and mesmerize. With visual perceptions always changing, peek behind the stories told and you're sure to find the right artistic expression.