Magazine article Artforum International

Maria Martinez-Canas

Magazine article Artforum International

Maria Martinez-Canas

Article excerpt

Maria Martinez-Canas often derives the layered, complex imagery of her photographs from old maps, customs documents, and other items relating to her Cuban heritage. However, in "Traces of Nature," her most recent show, the inspiration came not from her memories of Cuba but from her own backyard: On view were photograms--shadowlike images produced by plating objects between light-sensitive paper and a light source--made with plants, leaves, and other organic forms taken from the Miami-based artist's garden. Used since World War II in the creation of maps, the photogram has also been a favorite mode of experimentation among art photographers, including Man Ray, Christian Schad, and (perhaps most important for Martinez-Canas, who was trained in Bauhaus-influenced Chicago) Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.

The artist presented the large series from 1999 that gave the show its title, along with two smaller ones, "Metamorfosis," and "Garden," both 1998. The latter pair comprised toned gelatin-silver prints of fourteen by eleven inches, although the "Metamorfosis" images carried a little more blue, while the "Garden" series read more warmly as brown. The works in "Traces of Nature" are diazo prints, the results of a blueprinting process that is typically used to make charts and architectural renderings. Mounted on unstretched canvas, the most notable of these was Markings, which at seventy-one by eighty-two inches was by far the largest piece in the show. …

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