Inspired by family photographs from the past, Tahelquah artist Bobby C. Martin uses a family member as an “icon” in Aunt Kate McCombs. In this piece, symbols of his Native American identity emerge as he presents a more non-traditional approach to show his heritage. According to Martin, this multicolor piece was hand printed to make the “technical details right so it would be a good finished print.”
Martin expresses his pride in his family heritage, “The folks in these images, like my feisty Aunt Kate, are lifelines to a history that I didn’t discover until well into adulthood, but now realize are a source of inspiration and pride.”
You have said that “old family photographs have long been inspirational resources” for your work. What influenced you to choose the photograph of this relative?I never got a chance to meet Aunt Kate. The little lady is such a strong, feisty and downright intimidating presence that I can’t help but wonder what she was like in person. This photo is an image of her that I have used over and over again to create artworks in a number of different media. Even though I never met her, as an artist I am drawn to the power and independence of her gaze and stance. She’s a little Indian lady who didn’t take any nonsense from anyone and took care of business, all while clenching her corncob pipe firmly in her teeth. She inspires me from the distant gaze of an old family photo.
What was your inspiration during the creation of the piece?Being a screenprint using multiple ink colors, the main inspiration was mostly in getting the technical details right so it would be a good finished print. In doing the prep for the print, I wanted the photographic reference to read clearly but not necessarily photo realistically, so I hand drew all the separations to give it a more organic feel. I printed the edition at a private studio on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, so the beautiful surroundings provided plenty of motivation to stay inspired during the hand-printing process.
This artwork will be featured in the 24 Works on Paper exhibition on exhibition at IAO Gallery through August 3, 2013 and touring Oklahoma through December 2014. See venues and more information at www.24works.org.