Puerto Rican artist captures Linfield

Kyle Huizinga, Staff writer

With our current lack of showers this fall, Antonio Martorell brings the much-needed spirit of rain to Linfield College. Martorell is currently dis- playing his new body of work entitled “Rain / Lluvia” through Nov. 18th in the Linfield Gallery.

Antonio Martorell is regarded as one of the most influential Puerto Rican artists of the last fifty years. Martorell has workshops in New York City and Puerto Rico and spends most of his time painting, drawing, writing, creating performance art, set and costume design, films, TV, and being a radio personality.

Martorell’s works have been displayed in the Instituto de Cul- tura Puertorriqueña, Museo de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Museo de Arte de Ponce, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Galería Nacional de San Salvador, Museo de Arte Moderno de México, Museo del Barrio, Whitney Museum and Hotel Melia in Ponce in Puerto Rico.

As one of the most influential Hispanic artists, Martorell was grant- ed the ability in 2008 to be selected as a Wilbur Martin visiting fellow at Harvard University.

Martorell’s current gallery exhibition displays works that deal with the inclement Oregon climate. Before the exhibit was created, Martorell was looking for inspiration to create a completely new and unique experience for Oregon and Linfield College.

“When you go somewhere else you try to construct something that is meaningful in that place. When the opportunity came my way to bring an exhibition to Oregon, a place that I had never visited before, I candidly asked: ‘¿Qué pasa en Oregon?’ I received an equally candid answer: ‘It rains every day,’” Martorell said.

Martorell, within the exhibition, also called upon current social and political views for inspiration as well. Martorell constructed an “Umbrella Wall” and used colored yarn to create a river boasting the colors of the Mexican flag running unobstructed below it. The piece extends the length of the room and is about 10 feet tall and holds an emotional and aesthetic impact for the viewer.

“[President Donald Trump] is trying to make that wall larger. . . he wanted the northern side to be pretty,” Martorell said. The “Umbrella Wall” on the northern side boasts the colors of the American flag in yarn, the other side, or the southern side is purposefully undecorated and intimidating.

“But a river runs through it, and it is the color of the Mexican flag because there is no wall is stopping us Latin Americans, there is no wall stopping us, there is no tidewater or rain that will water us down,” Martorell said.

Another significant portion of Martorell’s exhibit were pieces he labeled “Facetext.” They are historically important writings with portraits of artists and friends. The name is derived from one of Martorell’s close friends.

“It is not Facebook but Facetext. It forces you to not only view the art but understand and face the meaning of the text,” Martorell said. These pieces are drawn with charcoal and crayon and then were washed with a sponge to bleed and run the subject into the paper. Martorell clarifies that there is a dual meaning to this since the rain is cleansing, but it also represents the watered down weight of text like the United Nations Peace Treaty, which is displayed on one of the Facetext pieces.

The exhibit boasts over 40 new and original, inspiring visual works and is a unique experience for any gallery visitor. During the gallery opening on Oct. 18th, many students and faculty enjoyed the display of thought-provoking and distinctive artwork. Linfield senior Benjamin Bartu said that he enjoyed the display and found that the theme was brilliantly executed within the many forms of the pieces displayed.

This exhibit is a rare opportunity to experience a complete unseen and unique set of works form a revered and respected artist. The gallery will remain open until Nov. 18th. More information about Antonio Martorell and the exhibit “Rain / Lluvia” can
be found at http://www.linfield.edu/art.html.