Victoria Martinez




Brick and concrete are rich with memory. As Octavio Paz wrote of the ideology latent in ancient Mayan and Zapotec artifacts, “space is fluid; it is time that has become extension, and time is solid, a block, a cube.” Across architectures fabulated and factual, my works reactivate the collective memories of the sites they inhabit, an archive latent in the accumulations of paint, language, metal, wood, and stone that compose urban space. I grew up in Pilsen, a working-class neighborhood of Chicago that has been predominantly Latino since the 1960s, when urban revitalization projects displaced people of Mexican descent from other areas of the city. The streets of Pilsen are rich with murals and graffiti that invokes new encounters with urban space. As a girl, I can remember watching, exhilarated, as a graffiti artist climbed the elevated railway in search of a canvas for his work; or myself running up the incline of a private alleyway to look more closely at a mural of a girl who had brown eyes, skin, and hair like mine. These interventions in the everyday invite trespass and re-envision our choreographed interactions with the built environment; they reveal the daily dialogue between a neighborhood and its residents. Having become an artist in this context, I see architecture as a site of mark-making, an archive of gestures that are created by and experienced through the body. Opening expansively from my origins in Chicago’s Lower West Side, I enmesh painting and textile-based works in the urban landscape and invite new spatial encounters with the walls of cultural institutions. Using fabric, metal, and masonry as substrates, my works are in dialogue with a history of painting but prioritize the vernacular intimacy of household goods and post-Industrial American architecture. In site-specific, cloth-based installations that extend from the format of urban murals, I add layers to the built environment without eroding the reality of what is present. In fabric pieces rendered on swathes of gauzy yardage with hibiscus dyes, I borrow from the semi-geometric contours of what I call “ghost prints,” the residual imprint of past architectural features—staircases, bearing walls—on other buildings. Compact brick sculptures, swaddled in painted nylon hosiery, place emphasis on and incarnate the structural blocks of buildings. The silken materiality of these soft portals and architectural fragments are tactile in their reference, speaking to the sensation of touch and mimicking the permeable membranes of flesh. A conversation with the city in which I am living—be it Chicago, Quetzaltenango, Oaxaca de Juárez, or New Haven—unremittingly enters my work. At times, this takes the form of discussions with members of the community, from elementary and high school students to craftspeople and local artists; exchanges that lead to collectively created murals indexing local businesses, craft traditions, and murals long-since painted over. Dialogue with place also takes the form of a more personal, daily ritual of walking in and observing the city—in its rhythms, erasures, and diurnal reinventions—a peripatetic practice that I sometimes explicitly reference through representations of walking shoes executed at immense scale. This embodied research proposes new methodologies, materials, and visual traditions. I first began working on metal after seeing signage in Oaxaca thick and overpainted with generations of language; and residencies in México have spurred intensive research into indigenous Mexican textile patterns and pre-Columbian archeological sites. Entangled in the emergent autonomy of the built landscape, my practice probes the synthesis of site and identity through absences excavated from urban architectures and muralistic accumulations of memory both shared and personal. Through my paintings, sculptures, and installations, I honor and make offering to traditions within and beyond my knowledge. Insistently, my works invite a mutual dialogue with space, and implore us to recognize how we shape our environments and—equally—how we are created by them.



Yale University School of Art, Master of Fine Arts in Painting / Printmaking


Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts


California College of the Arts, Semester Study in Community Arts

Awards + Residencies+ Fellowship


Fountainhead Residency, Miami, FL


James Stevenson Lost and Found Lab Artist Residency, Cos Cob, CT


Yale University Climate Engagement through Art in Cities Fellowship, New Haven, CT

Artist Residency, Co-Prosperity Catskill, Catskill, NY


Emergency Grant, Foundation for Contemporary Art, New York, NY

Faculty Enrichment Grant, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

1xn Printmaking Invitational, Spudnik Press, Chicago, IL


Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library Research Fellowship, Yale University, New Haven, CT

2021 Michigan Avenue Galleries Grant, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events / Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL

Actos de Confianza Grant, National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC), San Antonio, TX

Micro-Grant, Red Bull Arts, Detroit, MI / New York, NY

Impact Fund Grant, Propeller Fund, Chicago, IL


Materia Abierta Summer Program, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Mexico City, MX

MacMillan Center Field Research Fellowship, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Career Development Grant, American Association of University Women, Washington, D.C.


Artist-in-Residence Travel Grant, Theaster Gates Rebuild Foundation, Chicago, IL


Artist-in-Residence, Arts + Public Life and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Acting Up Award, The Chicago Community Trust and Goodcity, Chicago, IL


Julie Reynolds Shaw Memorial Award, Recipient, Chicago, IL

Planeterra Foundation Visiting Artist Residency, Ccaccaccollo, Peru


ACRE Artist Residency, Steuben, WI

ACRE Marwen Alumni Scholarship, Chicago, IL


Chicago Artists Month featured Artist, Chicago, IL

Spudnik Press Cooperative Artist Residency, Chicago, IL


Arquetopia Foundation for Development Artist Residency, Puebla, Mexico


Community Service and Professional Development Grant/AmeriCorps, Baltimore, Maryland

Selected Solo Exhibitions


Braiding Histories, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL


What the Cards Say, Co-Prosperity Catskill Gallery, Catskill, NY

Daughter of Wands, Produce Model Gallery, Chicago, IL


Next Chapter, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, curated by Eva Mayhabal Davis, Chicago, IL 

Cuatro Mapas, Chicago Athletic Association, Chicago, IL


Celestial House, Loyola University Museum of Art, Chicago, IL


Channeling Ollantaytambo, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington


Wizard Can, Dittmar Memorial Gallery at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL


Eleven Eleven, Comfort Station, Chicago, IL


Street Puzzles, Spudnik Press Cooperative, Chicago, IL


Other Side Breathing, Cobalt Studio, Chicago, IL


Pills Posted, Golden Stone, The Metro Gallery, Baltimore, MD

Selected Exhibitions


Act I: the Showcase, Ala Projects, New York, NY


Currents, Morris Adjmi Architects, New York, NY

First Light, ART06870 Gallery, Greenwich, CT

Radical Roots: A Global Conversation, Sotheby's Institute of Art, New York, NY

18, the BLANC Gallery, New York, NY

Radical Roots: A Global Conversation, Sotheby's Institute of Art, New York, NY

Chroma Futures, Laundromat Art Space, Miami, FL

Lit y Luz, Museo Del Chopo (UNAM), Mexico City, MX


The Sky is Higher Here, Transmitter Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

Salamander, Elder Gallery at Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, Nebraska

All that Light: Ten-year Retrospective of the AIR Program, Logan Center for the Arts, Chicago, IL


XX, LatchKey Gallery, New York, NY


Yale Painting & Printmaking MFA 2020, Perrotin Gallery, New York, NY

Shifting sights, A R E A Gallery, Boston, MA

Only When You Are Called: MFA Thesis, Yale University Green Hall Gallery, New Haven, CT


Odds and Ends Art Book Fair, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT

Second Year exhibition, Green Gallery at Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT

Beginning to See the Light, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL


Run What You Brung! : MFA 2020 First Year Exhibition, Green Gallery at Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT

Carrying A Place Called Home, University of Chicago Arts Incubator, Chicago, IL

Moments in Between, LVL3, Chicago, IL

DOCK 6 Design & Art 11, DOCK 6 Collective, Chicago, IL

Peeling Off The Grey, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL

Expansive Threads, Latino Arts Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

Queer Tropics, Transformer, Washington, DC


Prints of Unusual Size, Hoofprint Workshop, Chicago, IL

Outside Jokes, DEMO Project, Springfield, IL

Flatfiles, Goldfinch Gallery, Chicago, IL

Queer Tropics, Pelican Bomb Gallery, New Orleans, LA

Sí, Se Puede, Glass Curtain Gallery, Chicago, IL

Luscious Saturn, Roots and Culture, Chicago, IL

Present Futures: Strategies Toward Emancipation, GBU Gallery at University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

Memoria Presente, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL


Present Standard, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL 

Shared Language, University of Chicago Arts Incubator, Chicago, IL 

Sabina Ott: Who Cares for the Sky?, fiber contribution, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL

PDF-OBJECTS, Mana Contemporary, Chicago, IL 

Yelling At the Sky, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Chicago, IL 

The Annual: Showroom, Chicago Artists Coalition, Chicago, IL 

Journey of the Soul, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL 

Minimum Requirement, Silent Funny, Chicago, IL

Wonder Twin Powers, The West Wall, Chicago, IL  

¿Qué Pasa, USA?, La Esquina Gallery, Kansas City, MO

Pierce the Veil, Heaven Gallery, Chicago, IL 

Welcome to the End, The Franklin, Chicago, IL


Perto de Lá, Galeria do Jardim, Museu de Arte da Bahia, Salvador, Brazil 

Field for Play, O’Connor Art Gallery at Dominican University, River Forest, IL 

La Muerte Niña, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL  

Terrain Biennial, Terrain Exhibitions, Chicago, IL

Neon Dreams, Threewalls, Chicago, IL

OUTRO, ACRE Projects, Chicago, IL


Border Crossings: Mexico/USA, National Museum of Mexican Art at EXPO Chicago 

Material World, Terrain Exhibitions, Oak Park, IL 

Temporary Allegiance, Gallery 400, Chicago, IL

Dos Calaveras, Hoofprint Workshop, Chicago, IL

Bare Bones, The Franklin, Chicago, IL

Interlacing Threads, Hokin Gallery at Columbia College, Chicago, IL



Museo Tamayo + Independent Curators International : The Backroom 

Chroma Futures Catalog: page 4-6, 20-23, Picazo Merino, Edgar.


The Latinx Project at NYU: Intervenxions: page 12-20, Mayhabal Davis, Eva. “Mapping Intuition: An Interview with Victoria Martinez”. Volume 1. 

Yale Daily News (Pranava Dhar)

“School of Art fellows draw attention to climate change with cooling paint murals”

Hyperallergic (Susannah Papish)

“Your Concise Chicago Art Guide for Fall 2022”


Laster, Paul, “Eye on Upstate New York”, July 29, 2022, Arthur App

ANTE Magazine

“A Meditation on Vastness: “The sky is higher here” at Transmitter Gallery


The Latinx Project at New York University

“Mapping Intuition: An Interview with Victoria Martinez”

New American Paintings 

“MFA Annual #153”

“Walking and thinking of Octavio Paz”, “Sometimes you gotta close a door to open a window”, California Avenue 60623” - 2021, 124-127

The Hopper Prize

“Victoria Martinez interview”


“XX: seis artistas mujeres latinx en Latchkey Gallery, EUA

Artnet News (Cristina Cruz)

“Editors’ Picks: 11 Events for Your Art Calendar This Week”

Artishock Revista 

“Two Exhibitions Highlight Latinx Artists’ Abstract Approach”

Flaunt Magazine (Constanza Falco Raez)

“Latchkey Gallery | ‘XX’ Showcasing Female Latinx Abstraction”


Duke University Press (Arlene Dávila)

Latinx Art: Artists, Markets, and Politics” - 2020, 184

Artnet News (Caroline Goldstein)

“Yale Painting & Printmaking MFA 2020” 

Newcity Magazine (Red Bull Arts)

“The 2020 Design Issue” - 2020, 16


Poetry Magazine | Poetry Foundation (Fred Sasaki)

“Pantry Secrets”, “Pillow Talk”, “Hoyne” – 2019, 22-27

Arts Council Greater New Haven (Jamiah Green) 

“A mural Blooms at Wilson” – May 13, 2019


Chicago Tribune (Morgan Smith)

“Reclaimed art steals the spotlight at Loyola University Museum of Art’s summer exhibitions” – July 6, 2018

Sixty Inches From Center (Lynnette Miranda)

“Unwavering Motivation: Victoria Martinez’s Mark on Chicago” – June 22, 2018

The Rib (Amanda Jirón-Murphy)

“Queer Tropics Response” – May 1, 2018

The Washington Post (Mark Jenkins)

“In the galleries: Images in ‘Weather the Storm’ are both reassuring and ominous” – April 13, 2018

Gambit Weekly (D. Eric Bookhardt)

“Review: Grassroots and Queer Tropics” – February 12, 2018

Filthy Dreams (Emily Colucci)

“Stranded In The Jungle: Exoticism And Resistant Illegibility In “Queer Tropics” – January 12, 2018


LVL3 (Vincent Uribe)

“Artist of the Week: Victoria Martinez” - November 28, 2017

Lumpen Radio | 105.5 FM Chicago (Stephanie Manriquez)

“Contratiempo Radio” - August 6, 2017

Chicago Tribune (Lori Waxman)

“National Museum of Mexican Art celebrates its 30th with a protest party” - July 5, 2017

Poetry Magazine | Poetry Foundation (Fred Sasaki)

“Nuestra Piel” – April 2017 cover art


Informality Art + Culture Blog (Olivia Clanton)   

“Victoria Martinez Highlights the Energy of Urban Sites” - November 28, 2016

Charlotte Street Foundation (Charlie Tatum)

“Loose Threads: Weaving Latinx Narratives of Hybridity and Multiplicity” - November 23, 2016

Theaster Gates / Rebuild Foundation (Brooklyn Smith)

“Victoria Martinez: A Glorious Studio Visit in Little Village” - May 25, 2016

Northwestern University (Judy Moore)

“Nothing goes to waste in Wizard Can” - April 8, 2016


Present Standard (Kristin Korolowicz)

“Soft Monuments” catalog essay – February 1, 2016   

Inside/Within (Kate Sierzputowski)

“Victoria Martinez's Sparkly Detritus” - July 1, 2016


Thames and Hudson (Kristi O'Meara and Audrey Victoria Keiffer)

“The Pattern Base: Over 550 Contemporary Textile and Surface Designs” – 2015, 259

The University of Chicago Press (Mary Jane Jacob, Kate Zeller, and Rebecca Zorach)

“Art Against the Law” – 2014, 115-116

Public Art


Override | A Billboard Project, EXPO Chicago and Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Chicago, IL


Take the Risk to Cool Down, commissioned by Yale University, New Haven, CT


Color Dreams, St. Pius V School, Chicago, IL


ArtRink: A Note to Our Future, Brooklyn Children's Museum, Brooklyn, NY


Intersecting Histories II, Wilson Branch Library / Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT


Intersecting Histories, mural, Wilson Branch Library / Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT


All for One, parachute cloth mural, Pickard Elementary School / Urban Gateways, Chicago, IL

Barrio Fruit, parachute cloth mural, Olín Studio, Chicago, IL


Championing Neighborhood Memories, parachute cloth mural, Pickard Elementary School / Urban Gateways, Chicago, IL  


Traveling Minds, outdoor mixed media installation, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL


Morazán Hilvanando Colores / Walls of Hope, mural, Perquín, Morazán, El Salvador

Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, mosaic murals, After School Matters, assistant to Mirtes Zwierzynski, Chicago, IL


Sketchbook Exploration, mural, Yollocalli Arts Reach / National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL 


Hampstead Hill Garden, parachute cloth mural, AmeriCorps / Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD


Colegio Miguel Asturias School, mural, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Selected Presentation + Lecture


Artist-In-Residence Open House Talk, Lost and Found Lab, Cos Cob, CT

Victoria Martinez: Public Art Presentation - Writing about Contemporary Figurative Painting, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Transfers and Contagions: A talk on multidisciplinary art, Museo Del Chopo, Mexico City, MX


Victoria Martinez: Public Art Presentation - Writing about Contemporary Art Seminar, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Guest Artist Presentation - Architecture of Memory, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Artist Talk with Curator Tracie D. Hall, Logan Center for the Arts + Arts Incubator at University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Guest Artist/Educator Presentation - Teacher Institute Program, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Chicago, IL

Canje, Sixty Inches From Center, Chicago, IL


Victoria Martinez : Cafecito Series artist talk - Latino Studies 101, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

In The Studio: Victoria Martinez, Visual Arts at Americas Society, New York, NY 

CALA Presenta > Charlas, CALA Alliance (Celebración Artística de las Américas), Phoenix, AZ

In Conversation with Arlene Davila, Latchkey Gallery, New York, NY


American Association of University Women Artist Presentation, Eastern Connecticut State University, Windham, CT

Abstracted Landscapes with Victoria Martinez, Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, Chicago, IL

El Salón, digital conversation with Eva Mayha Davis, New York, NY


Public Art Lecture, Yale School of Architecture, New Haven, CT

Latinx Artivisim, The Latino Cultural Center at Yale University, New Haven, CT


Art and Poetry: Victoria Martinez and José Olivarez, Loyola University Museum of Art, Chicago, IL  

Archives + Futures Interview, ACRE Projects, Chicago, IL 

Collective Threads, University of Chicago Arts Incubator, Chicago, IL

Artists in Conversation: Victoria Martinez and Edra Soto, Loyola University Museum of Art, Chicago, IL 

Carrying A Place Called Home Panel Discussion, University of Chicago Arts Incubator, Chicago, IL  

Ox-Bow Visiting Artist Lecture, Ox-Bow School of Art, Saugatuck, MI

Imagining Alternative Models & Practice, Ox-Bow School of Art, Saugatuck, MI 

Weaving Patterns and Perceptions, Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago


Artist-in-Residence panel talk, University of Chicago Arts Incubator, Chicago, IL 

Legacies of the Wall of Respect: Art, Politics, and Public Space, Block Museum of Art, Evanston, IL

Nurturing Experimental Spaces for Learning and Making, Logan Center for the Arts, Chicago, IL 

Traveling Minds: The power of youth and contemporary art, Open Engagement Conference, Chicago, IL         

Channeling Ollantaytambo Artist Talk, Washington State University, Pullman, WA


The Making of the Equitable City, Latino Art Now Conference, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

Living in the Present Panel, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL



De La Cruz Collection, Miami, FL

Maria Mostajo Collection, New York, NY


The EQ Space Collection, Willis Tower, Chicago, IL

Private Collections, New York, NY, Las Vegas, NV, Palo Alto, CA, Chicago, IL

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