Amanda Martínez’s first solo museum presentation, Canta y no llores is the seventh installment of Aldrich Projects, a quarterly series featuring one work or a focused body of work by a single artist on the Museum’s campus. Comprised of a series of wall reliefs and freestanding sculptures referencing adobe construction, the works are a translation of earth-building techniques using mud and straw indigenous to New Mexico into a studio-based practice. The presentation also includes a display of material samples in the Museum’s Studio that give visitors access to feel the texture of the sculptures.
Martínez learned adobe construction in New Mexico, and subsequently reconnected to her family’s history as adoberos in the region. The craft of working with earth evoked tactile memories that set in motion an effort to reassemble narratives and histories. She understands both the manual work and the conversations with relatives as forms of learning and healing, reuniting her to lifeways that were severed. By translating vernacular techniques from the land through the use of readily available industrial materials, she continues an interrupted legacy with an acknowledgement of displacement and adaption.
The project’s title, Canta y no llores, is quoted from the Mexican folk song Cielito Lindo that was popularized in the late nineteenth century. Sung throughout the Spanish-speaking world, including by Martínez’s grandfather to her, the song’s refrain to “sing and not cry” has poetic resonances with the joy and melancholy felt relearning histories disrupted by migration. Martínez is also fascinated by the contradictory associations the song has across different classes and ethnicities in Latin America. Like adobe, Cielito Lindo traces the complexities of embracing inheritances that are linked to both indigenous cultures and colonial histories.
The exhibition is accompanied by a ‘zine and essay by the curator Eduardo Andres Alfonso, Associate Curator.
Amanda Martínez, born in 1988 on unceded Miccosukee and Cherokee land (Greenville, SC), lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelors in Fine Arts from Kansas City Art Institute. She recently completed Cercado, an installation in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden as part of the Ankhlave Garden Project Fellowship. A solo-presentation of her work curated by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes was included in the 2019 Triennale of the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art. She has exhibited in various galleries, including Here Gallery (Pittsburgh, PA); Hesse Flatow (New York, NY); Victori+Mo Gallery(Brooklyn, NY); and Platform Gallery (Baltimore, MD), among others. In 2022 she founded the Autistic Artist Alliance, an online space for visibility, self-advocacy, and community.
Top image: Amanda Martínez: Canta y no llores (installation view), The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, January 10 to May 5, 2024. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Jason Mandella