The “Exact Change” exhibit continues through March 22 in the visual arts center gallery.
By Katya Harmel
The artwork of visual arts Adjunct Norbert Clyde Martinez Jr. and Texas native Daniela Cavazos Madrigal was celebrated as students and community members sipped wine and snacked on an assortment of foods March 1 while strolling past installments that fill the gallery in the visual arts center.
Madrigal was not in attendance.
Martinez refused to be interviewed about his artwork; however, Jesus “Toro” Martinez, a friend of the artist, gave his interpretation.
Jesus “Toro” Martinez, a contemporary artist and owner of Lone Star Art Space, said he knew Norbert Clyde Martinez Jr. from an art show he hosted last year in his gallery, titled “Noli Me Tangere.”
“I came to see how (Norbert Clyde Martinez) evolved from there,” Jesus “Toro” Martinez said.
He smiled while enjoying the single channel video installment titled “Party All the Time,” which runs five minutes, 26 seconds and features the artist explaining what he sees while riding in the passenger seat of a car traveling along an interstate.
In the video, the artist intentionally fabricated observations. For instance, he told the viewer he was in a Ferrari when he was in a Mustang.
“He makes you think about what you’re looking at,” Jesus “Toro” Martinez said.
He further explained that Norbert Clyde Martinez was relaying the idea that everything is subjective and should be questioned.
Jesus “Toro” Martinez said Norbert Clyde Martinez’s artwork was a “cradle-Democrat exhibit” with Christian rights involved. He said he noticed the individuals Norbert Clyde Martinez Jr. chose to include were mostly Democrats and recognized many references to the Holy Cross.
He leaned over the railing of the second floor and motioned to “HFPP” as an example, a piece resembling a cross and displaying the images of former President John F. Kennedy Jr. and Jacqueline “Jackie” Kennedy Onassis among items including gilded baby shoes and Bibles.
Criminal justice freshman Nancy Camero said she attended the event for extra credit in an art class, but she enjoys art.
“I like to admire (art) — the beauty in it,” she said.
Camero explained she was pleased with the artwork and enjoyed being around like-minded people.
“I think it’s nice,” she said. “I feel like (the event) gathers people of the same interest.”
She said the piece that stood out to her the most was Madrigal’s “Azuelo Mi Espejo,” which is displayed as a cascading denim waterfall suspended from the second floor of the gallery.
Camero said visual arts Professor Debra Schafter had described the piece in an endearing way during class and she was intrigued with its connection to border-crossing and the artist’s empowering message to women.
Schafter, who was in attendance, explained that “women’s work” — sewing, weaving and embroidery — has been excluded as an art form in the past.
She said “Azuelo Mi Espejo” challenged the exclusion of women’s work by displaying it as a forefront in the exhibit.
Madrigal incorporated second-hand clothing and fabric in all her pieces and employed techniques mothers and daughters have used for centuries, she said.
Schafter explained Madrigal grew up on the border and the clothes in her artwork represent the “sole possessions” of individuals who have crossed the border illegally.
“What did they bring with them?” Schafter said. “Their clothes.”
She said the clothes represent security, home and a second skin for those leaving everything behind for new beginnings.
Clothes are disposable possessions, but they become the “most precious possessions” to individuals who have lost everything, she said.
The exhibit will be available until March 22. The gallery is open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday. The gallery will be closed March12-18 for spring break.
For more information, contact visual arts Professor Eduardo Rodriguez at 210-486-1040.