Robert Martin grew up in the Midwestern United States and references the wildlife art that was prominent in many homes they knew in their childhood, including in their own family. Wildlife art as a genre has a deep history in the U.S., dating back to Thomas Moran’s depictions of the western landscape that inspired the first national parks to present day artists depicting humanity’s relationship to nature, often in idealized fashion.
Martin intersects their queer identity with their rural upbringing, subverting the visual language of this popular art form while also referencing the identity of the region and the people within it. Their paintings, drawings and installation works present a complex and multi-layered understanding of their own memory, nostalgia, and their own as well as regional identities.
As Martin states:
“I haven’t lost comfort in the visual language of wildlife art, and I haven’t lost appreciation for my upbringing. Though, in distancing myself, I’ve gained a more critical perspective. Queerness is not absent from the American hinterland. In fact, I see it everywhere. The trouble comes from a lack of acknowledgement, and the bleeding of human heteronormative perceptions over the natural, fluid environment. By subverting this commonly heteronormative imagery – perhaps with two bucks rather than a buck and a doe, a grouping of flamboyant drakes, or a pairing of male pheasants – I emphasize queerness and flamboyance within these rural spaces. Conversely, in generating wildlife art, I extend an invitation to those who may feel excluded by the elitist nature of the art world and its institutions.”
Robert Martin was awarded BFA in Studio Art from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and is presently an MFA candidate in Painting and Drawing at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where they live and work.
Curatorial Statement by Daisy McGowan, Director of the Galleries of Contemporary Art
Great Expectations is the fourth in a series of biannual survey exhibitions featuring emergent career artists living and working in a specific geographic area of Colorado. Over a two year period, I was privileged to conduct numerous studio visits connecting with artists working up and down the I-25 Front Range corridor in Colorado. The eleven invited artists are exploring and innovating through their respective practices, pushing the contemporary art field as a result. While by no means exhaustive, Great Expectations highlights artists working and living in the most populated areas of the state which have undergone dramatic growth and change in the past two years.
The 2020 edition of Great Expectations features new work in a range of media, including painting, sculptural installation, monumental fiber art, video and new media including Virtual Reality technologies at our downtown Colorado Springs gallery site.
This exhibition aims to introduce our audiences to some of the brightest artists working along the Front Range corridor today, from whom we can surely expect great things.
Robert Martin, Ken & Val, watercolor, gouache, colored pencil, pen, 2019. 12.5x12.5"