Chris Martin: Ancient as Time @ ICA San Francisco
Oakland-based tattoo and textile artist Chris Martin is known for his reverence for text, appreciation for the history of his material and careful collection of imagery, which includes room-filling multi-media installation. Driven by a desire to push Southern history, his work confronts aesthetic perceptions of contemporary injustice. Chris collaborated with ICA SF on the visual identity for our launch, creating the first iteration of an artist designed ICA SF logo. His series To Whom It May Concern was adapted for this inaugural artwork and speaks to the museum’s mission to push the art world and current artistic canon to be more expansive.
Ancient as Time is a newly commissioned installation, presented in the unfinished ICA SF building to coincide with Meantime, a series of temporary programs during the museum’s mid-construction phase in advance of our Fall 2022 opening.
The installation will feature large soft sculptures, employing boldly expressive lettering with stark, blunt immediacy that challenges the weight of our world with naked solidarity. The language is pulled from hip hop and blues music, books, documentaries, and everyday conversations that are gritty and unapologetic. Also on view are hand cut and sewn monumental tapestry banners in contrasted black and white images that tell a surreal story of religion, captivity, and freedom; referencing traditional American and sailor tattoos. The history and superstition embedded in archetypical nautical motifs such as anchors, mermaids and animals are re-coded to reflect the history and stories of the African American experience. The reclamation of cotton as a primary medium, applied in the large-scale fiber works, reflect the Atlantic slave trade and the artist’s North Carolina roots.
In addition, ICA SF partnered with Chris Martin to produce a limited edition merch line of hoodies, embroidered hats, tote bags, and stickers that are available in person during open hours of Meantime programs. Photos by Shaun Roberts