In his latest solo show, “Mayflowers,” Jet Martinez continues his exploration of work inspired by folk arts. The original source of exploration was folk arts from Mexico. Now, with this new body of work, Jet seeks to draw from various folk art forms throughout the world to create work that feels common to people form many cultures.
The Bay Area's Jet Martinez opens his latest solo show of work inspired by folk arts entitled “Mayflowers.” There are commonalities between folk art throughout the world. Visual motifs play out in cultures that seemingly couldn’t be more different. For example, the motif of birds in branches surrounded by flowers, is a motif that can be seen from Mexico, to Russia, Egypt, India, and beyond. The starting point of the work in this show is to allow those commonalities to infuse the work. Rather than to specifically choose one culture to pay homage to, the artist is trying to pay homage to a larger international tradition that artists and makers carry in their own work.
The show is broken up into small subsets that give the overall exhibit a feeling of a group show. Each group is inspired by a separate folk art technique or grouping of techniques.
One piece entitled “Wild, Not Lost”, combines inspirations from paintings on bark paper from the state of Guerrero, Mexico with Huichol yarn paintings from the state of Nayarit in Mexico. The painting also contains patterning samples from Chinese ceramics and details from Ukranian eggs within the floral shapes of the painting.
The title “Mayflowers”, is not only an obvious reference to the month of May and is represented by the heavy floral aesthetic to the work, but “Mayflowers” is also a reference to the immigrant origins of this American culture. Just as the country itself, I am an amalgam of cultures. I wanted to create work for this show that spoke to the multi-ethnic makeup of our country. Rather than seeking to differentiate itself, this work seeks to assimilate. I want people from completely different backgrounds to find something new and something familiar in the work.
“Mayflowers” opens on May 13th at 7pm in Oakland at Athen B. Gallery.