Martin Alexander Spratlen Etem

We are living in a compelling time where we are defying our own definitions of gender, sexuality, and identity; Martin makes sense of all of it by creating work that explores this the that as well as his own identity. Martin’s recent work is a series of 3 dimensional figures that are split into two halves that depicts two different spectrums of ethnicity, gender, and shapes of himself or two different sides of a story. The figures as a whole resembles parts of the body as well as the range of experiences and environments we live in that shape us. “I think of our bodies as these incredible vessels that store memories, experiences, emotions, and knowledge. It is incredible what our bodies can do and endure.”

Martin’s ideas start off as illustrations on wood or foam and then is cut using a jigsaw. Once the edges are sanded down, the wooden sculpture is varnished to bring out more of the natural color of the grains of the variety of woods he uses, some consisting of African Mahogany and poplar. The sculptures are either flat or 4 sided figures. “I create objects that can be explored, walked around, and that take up space. Sculpting and creating all of these different shapes is a liberation from art history’s love affair with rectangles and squares, and I celebrate that.”

“Conceptually I have been exploring how pictures of of people, places, things, and events in our lives become these mental, pictorial, emotional, and visceral sculptures within us. We inhabit so many different environments.”