Capturing Peru through unconventional works

LATISHA JENSEN | Evergreen reporter

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A person’s perspective changes based on how they choose to react to life experiences. Victoria Martinez, a Chicago-based artist, makes the best of her perspective by transforming common materials such as plastic, fabrics and paint into lively and eye-catching works of art.

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Martinez’s exhibit called “Channeling Ollantaytambo,” displayed in the CUB Art Gallery, is a reflection of her experience while spending three weeks in The Sacred Valley of Peru.

Her work is generally inspired by all of her travels, even walks in the city or hikes. When she discovers a new texture, she documents and takes photographs of it for memory, Martinez said.

“I would say part of my inspiration is Mother Earth. I’m in tune with the material and how to weave or stitch it or somehow collage it,” Martinez said. “I think my work is very poetic.”

Martinez explored Peru, Bolivia and Brazil to learn about various textiles and how to dye alpaca wool using natural ingredients like eucalyptus, flowers and different herbs.

Martinez spent a significant amount of time in Ollantaytambo alone, but when a group of curious, energetic tourists came along, they invited her on a hike that led to one of Peru’s ruins about two hours from where she was staying.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Martinez said. “It was a great experience. I ended up hiking really high up, I wasn’t prepared for it, but I had a blast.”

She had to go back alone when they finished the hike. She got lost after a few bus rides, but that did not stop her from savoring her surroundings and converting this experience into a permanent physical memory, hence the exhibit’s title, “Channeling Ollantaytambo.”

“It was scary but beautiful at the same time,” Martinez said. “It’s just a memory of being lost but not exactly to the point where you’re afraid; more of being lost in the right direction so you feel secure.”

Victoria DeLeon, CUB gallery programmer, discovered Martinez’s work and then brought her to Pullman. DeLeon worked alongside Martinez to set up her artwork and make Pullman feel more like home.

“She’s a really good person to talk to. She likes to get to know people on a spiritual level,” DeLeon said. “There’s this resonating factor you can feel with Victoria.”

DeLeon knows Martinez personally and desired to add more diverse art forms to campus.

“On her website, I fell in love with her artwork,” DeLeon said, “and I was like, ‘we got to have her, she needs to come here!’”

Martinez grew up in a community with frequent gang violence, resulting in many funerals and memorials.

“That really inspired me to want to create art, because part of it was a healing process,” Martinez said, “creating art to forget about what was going on in my neighborhood.”

The artist wants people to question where each part of her work may have originated from, but also hopes spectators find her pieces visually appealing and can appreciate the color palettes.

“It’s meaningful to me that my projects are getting exposed and that I’m able to share my voice as an artist with a different audience,” Martinez said. “I hope my work brings some sort of nostalgia to the audience here.”