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Mesa College Art Gallery
7250 Mesa College Dr, D101, San Diego, California 92111
7 Steps Forward 7 Steps Back
V. Kim Martinez
Exhibition Dates: Oct 12 – Nov 2, 2017
Reception: Thursday, October 12, 3:30 – 6:30 pm, Art Gallery D101
Artist Lecture at 6:30 pm following reception
FREE parking on reception day ONLY in Lot 10
San Diego Mesa College Art Gallery is proud to present 7 Steps Forward 7 Steps Back, a traveling exhibition of works by artist V. Kim Martinez. The Salt Lake City artist explores traditional themes of death in Mexican and Indigenous cultures in not so traditional ways.
When a person dies, some indigenous peoples of North America practice a ritual called “7 Steps Forward 7 Steps Back.” For seven days, four times a day, survivors pay homage to the deceased by visiting and marking their burial site with seven lines. They then walk forward seven steps to the site and, when leaving, walk backward seven steps. This practice assures that the dead will have safe entry into the afterlife.
V. Kim Martinez’s multi-disciplinary installation, 7 Steps Forward 7 Steps Back is based on her experiences traveling routes used by Mexican/Native American migrants for thousands of years along the now United States and Mexican border. The exhibition includes paintings, drawings, and an animated five-minute video, in response to what she witnessed while traversing the southwestern border. Her process included utilizing print and electronic text, the mapping of historical/contemporary, northern/southern migratory routes, as well as, observational fieldwork that integrated conversations with migrants. Martinez’s work is about the use and abuse of power structures, victim and victimizer, binaries that provide the raw material of her research. Formally, the vocabulary of the accompanying animation creates a psychic distance that allows the viewer to interact with material that can be emotionally complicated. The beginning, middle and end is fluid, she draws a scene not really knowing what would come before or after. Martinez allows the process to determine the narrative outcome, resulting in an approach and intention that destabilizes the viewer by offering numerous interpretive choices that may or may not seem plausible.
The video’s construction is not linear, but more of a random, stream-of-consciousness exploration of all the facets of the border experiences. “I didn’t want it to be a linear narrative," she says. «I wanted it to have that sense of magical realism. I wanted the viewer to be unbalanced, to feel some tension.»
Her motivation in developing this series was to increase understanding of the political and social discourse of the region. The resultant images are not literal but rather intellectual concepts and metaphors that invite the viewer to explore and experience the journey.
Traveling within the margins of this rigid yet fluid space allows her to perceive the border in a myriad of ways. “Movement becomes a metaphor for communication--the transfer of meaning from one place to another, isolating pieces of information, repeating, changing scale, and reducing color, is my attempt to reveal hidden structures and motivations of migration,” Martinez said.
Martinez has exhibited in the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China; at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Valdivia, Chile; the SPARC Gallery in Venice California; the Noyes Cultural Art Center, Chicago, Illinois; and at the Al-Kahf Gallery in Bethlehem, Palestine. She is a faculty member of the University of Utah Department of Art and Art History.
7 Steps Forward 7 Steps Back will culminate with a live mural project. Martinez, will be working with San Diego Mesa College students to create an onsite art installation to celebrate Day of the Dead on November 2nd. 7 Steps Forward 7 Steps Back will open on Thursday October 12, 2017 with an artist reception from 3:30pm to 6:30pm to be immediately followed by an artist lecture. The full exhibition will be on view at the San Diego Mesa College Art Gallery until November 2, 2017. Admission is Free.
NEW Gallery Hours: MTW 11 am — 4 pm, TH 1 – 8 pm. Closed Fridays, Weekends and School Holidays
Image credit: V. Kim Martinez, 7 steps Forward 7 Steps Back: Existential Space, 2013, 38" x 38", acrylic on linen