ByÂ Amy Brady
This month I have for you a fascinating interview with artist Jamie Martinez, who recently participated in a climate-themed group show at Yi Gallery in New York City. Jamie is a Colombian/American artist who immigrated to Florida at the age of twelve, where he eventually attended The Miami International University of Art and Design before moving to New York. Jamie is also the publisher ofÂ Arte Fuse,Â a contemporary art platform that gives more visibility to art shows and is a home to several artist interviews. In addition, Jamie is the founder and director of The Border Project Space, which was recently featured in Hyperallergicâ€™s top 15 shows of 2018. The space is dedicated to showing the work of immigrants.
Why do you focus on climate change in your art?
Climate change is very important to me. I believe that we have to protect and take care of Mother Earth. The way things are going, we are not going to leave much of aÂ future to humankind, and this is a serious problem. It seems like we are only looking out for ourselves. Change has to come, and as an artist, I feel the need to say something.
Your work also addresses immigration. What role do you see art playing in the world at large when it comes toÂ big, complex issues like immigration and climate change?
About a year and a half ago, I opened an art space called The Border to address the issue of immigration. I only curate group shows there with mostly immigrant artists. I want to give them a platform to display and nurture their workÂ so that they can create even better work. Itâ€™s also a place where immigrant artists canÂ network and meet other immigrant artists.
When it comes to climate change, it seems like a lot of artists are taking on this subject more and more. I think that [artists]Â can help influence and educate the young so they can beÂ future protectors of this wonderful planet. ArtÂ can also help communicate the enormity of the problem and what might face us ifÂ things donâ€™t change.
Triangulation is a repeated motif throughout your work. What draws you to these shapes and patterns?
I have always been obsessed with the triangle and especially the tetrahedron. I find this shape very strong and mysterious, and when you put a lot of triangles together, the shapeÂ becomes even stronger. Thatâ€™s because it spreads its weight evenly throughout its form.Â I use the concept of triangulation throughout my work. My process involves constructing, deconstructing and fragmenting images, data, and information geometrically into triangulated segments.
Please tell me about your recent experience showingÂ work at the Yi Gallery in New York City with other artists who are exploringÂ climate themes. What did you take away from that experience?
I enjoyed participating in that show. Cecilia Jalboukh did a superb job of putting the show together. I thought that all the pieces complimented each other, givingÂ the show depth and meaning. We got some great press, including coverage inÂ Vogue China. It was also great to show with a friend and to get to meet and knowÂ the other two artists in the show.
You lived in Miami after immigrating to the United States. Did spending some of your formative years in a city threatened by sea-level rise affect your views of climate change â€“ and of art?
I am a surfer, so I pay a lot of attention to water. It is sad to see that every time I go to Miami, mostly for Art Basel, the threat of sea-level rise seems to be getting worse. The locals are taking it more seriously, at least; they see that itâ€™s goingÂ to be a big problem. MiamiÂ didnâ€™t really change my art â€“ that happened here in New York City. But it will always be a place I care about deep in my heart.
Whatâ€™s next for you?Â
At the moment I am taking a break. I had the busiest sixÂ months so far of my career, and I feel drained.Â I needed to step back beforeÂ coming backÂ in September, which is when the art season officially opens. I will have a show at my gallery. It opensÂ on September 13th at 7pm. I alsoÂ have a show confirmed for early 2020 and some other projects and installations that I amÂ starting to work on now.
This article is part of theÂ Climate Art InterviewsÂ series. It was originally published in Amy Bradyâ€™s â€œBurning Worldsâ€ newsletter.Â SubscribeÂ to get Amyâ€™s newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.
Amy Brady is the Deputy Publisher ofÂ GuernicaÂ magazine and Senior Editor of theÂ Chicago Review of Books. Her writing about art, culture, and climate has appeared in theÂ Village Voice, theÂ Los Angeles Times,Â Pacific Standard, theÂ New Republic, and other places. She is also the editor of the monthly newsletter â€œBurning Worlds,â€ which explores how artists and writers are thinking about climate change. She holds a PHD in English and is the recipient of a CLIR/Mellon Library of Congress Fellowship. Read more of her work atÂ AmyBradyWrites.com and follow her on Twitter at @ingredient_x.
Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.
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