Keep the change
Sometimes the sum is more than the parts, the woods is more than just the trees, and the universe is more than the stars. Texas Martin’s exhibition Journey of the Celestial Body, on display at Reno Art Works, is a ramshackle hodgepodge including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, found objects and photos, some made for the show, others dating back 20 years.
But the exhibition is more than just an eclectic collection of individual works. It’s also a narrative-driven installation about accepting, even embracing change.
Her exhibition is separated into three components: night, sunrise and day. The night scenes include nebulae, starscapes and moodier works like the sombre figure drawing “Submission,” made with oil pastels, china marker and charcoal. She said this part of the exhibition represents “the cold, dark part of the night. The part that we think is unchanging.”
Many of the star scenes are rendered on assemblages made from fragments of denim and other materials—the fabric of the universe. Martin said that she started working with fabrics as an homage to her mother, who sewed.
The second room is what she calls the sunrise room. This room has an interactive component—gallery visitors are encouraged to take a page from a dictionary and write down what holds them back from changing, and then go through a curtain, and put the page in a box in the day gallery.
That transitional curtain is what Martin calls “the flaming door,” a wall of flame that is passed through during times of personal change. An accompanying text explains the concept further: “Our fear keeps us from crossing, but I have crossed, at least in my heart. I have kept walking. And I turn and see the one who was me, standing at the door and not moving, with suitcases tied to her wrists, that are sinking into the earth, and they are filled with preconceptions.”
The sunrise room represents the moment of trepidation and hesitation just before overcoming a personal obstacle. And walking through the curtain also requires gallery visitors to overcome the gallery taboo against touching artwork. Then, after passing through the curtain, the works in the day gallery are bright, light and cohesive.
Martin grew up in Paso Robles, California. Texas is her given name. (“It’s not my playa name. Everyone thinks that.”) She earned a degree in public art from California State University, Monterey Bay, an experience she said encouraged her mixed-media approach to art—“dumping your art box out on the table and working on whatever.”
She discovered Reno on the way to Burning Man and connected with the inclusive attitude among local artists.
“I love the way the artists here work, she said. “They’re showing their work, but they’re not caught up in the whole gallery thing very much.”
She’s been a resident artist at Reno Art Works for four years, and it’s the perfect place for a show that’s more personal than would likely be seen in a more polished gallery. In many ways, the show is a mid-career retrospective, but instead of being organized chronologically or by media, it’s united around the theme of change.
“We’ve all gone through something major,” Martin said. “But despite all that, we go through something, the sun still rises. There are still beautiful days.”