Greenwich Post's article

Written by Janis Gibson

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Many artists work with found objects, either things sought out or those stumbled upon. For Nadia Martinez of Greenwich, her found objects were computer parts, offered by someone whose company needed to remove the components left behind by a failed computer maker.

“I felt very sad for the company,” said Ms. Martinez, but looking at the variety and abundance of abandoned parts, “I felt like a kid in a candy store, there was so much to choose from. I felt it was my turn to do something with the parts; they were not garbage, there was a second life for this material.... I’m recycling.”

Ms. Martinez debuted the resulting sculptures and mobiles in El Bosque de Qualtron (Qualtron’s Forest), a solo show presented at the National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts in Manhattan in September. The works can be seen at an open studio she will be conducting this Saturday, Nov. 13, from 4 to 7 pm, which will also include work in other media.

“When you get so many materials,” she continued, “it comes like a bomb. In the beginning, it was very intimidating,” she admitted, “but then I wondered what this is for, what it was meant to be. The objects were metal and plastic, they were kind of cold. I wanted to create something warm, with personality.”

Ms. Martinez began working with the materials last December, studying various components, mixing and matching to see what evolved. “Every artist feels there is a moment when things click and, voila!” She noted that the movie Avatar “kind of helped me, it created things you’ve never seen before, but all representing something from nature.”

The resulting sculptures and mobiles are intriguing and many are reminiscent of flowers. Those created from wires are colorful, and many are quite playful. All demand a second look. There is the initial impression of a work, then a second, closer study of the components, how they fit together.

The first piece she started — Viento Estrellado (Starry Wind), made of connectors on a long white board — was the last to be completed and it “seemed to evoke the strongest reaction” at the National Academy exhibit.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Ms. Martinez of the show. “But as people came in, you could see the surprise on their faces, which could be good or bad. People were really paying attention to what everything was, there was a genuine interest to see it, learn about it. The response was great,” she said. “I couldn’t have more happy.

“People who know my work were excited,” she added. “Another artist called it ‘poetry.’ Computers don’t usually make you feel anything, but I was able to transform the parts to make it so warm.”

Ms. Martinez calls her work with Qualtron Forest formal, yet informal. “People want to touch it, and I say, ‘Go ahead.’ I like to create things that people can touch and be part of.” All of the pieces were first named in Spanish, then translated into English. She incorporated lights into two pieces, one comprising the green internal boards with microprocessors, which enables viewers to see different patterns when backlit.

Tree Under Construction, made of interlocking computer chips on a wire frame, is also a self-portrait. “This is me at this moment,” she said. “I am still collecting parts to be a strong trunk. I was very invested while it was being created.” Asked about the small pieces scattered at the base of the sculpture, she replied, “A tree is never by itself, there are always things around it. In life, you have family, friends, peers... we are connected.”

Studying art for the last decade, Ms. Martinez had begun her formal education in her native Honduras focusing on architecture, but after two years left the country to come to the United States to learn English — and discovered her passion for the fine arts. While there are no artists in her family — her father is an accountant, her mother a homemaker — family members “do like to do creative things like writing and singing, and my grandmother is a seamstress.” She also feels her art is influenced by her upbringing in Honduras. “It is so beautiful, very colorful with flowers of all kinds everywhere,” she said.

After studying painting, watercolors and printmaking at the National Academy, she began doing sculpture last year, first with acrylics on canvas that she shaped into a series called Lollipops. “I love the 3-D aspect of it,” she said, “I really feel connected, touch, feel, total interaction... and it is reminiscent of architecture “

She also notes that sculpture is more physically demanding than other art forms -"You have to involve your whole body as well as carry things around.” She noted with a chuckle that Tree Under Construction’s height (it comes to her shoulders) was determined by what she felt she could comfortably lift.

She enjoys connecting linear things and finds her art moving toward a contemporary, abstract style with “clean lines, no overdoing it.”