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Acorazar y Amor - Current Exhibition

Fri, Apr 01


Pilsen Arts & Community House

Acorazar y Amor - Current Exhibition

Last August Antonio put a call out for frontline workers to come be photographed in their favorite masks and have the photo processed with hand sanitizer for a unique effect. Show runs from April 1st - May 1st.

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Time & Location

Apr 01, 2022, 6:00 PM – May 01, 2022, 9:00 PM

Pilsen Arts & Community House, 1637 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608, USA

About the Event

Join us Friday, April 1st for the opening reception, 6-9pm  

Show runs: April 1st - May 1st

Gallery Hours: Wed - Sun, 12-6pm 

ACORAZAR Y AMOR(To Protect and To Love) is a series of unique ink transfer portraits of plaindressed service industry workers which visualizes the experience of what is coined as “pandemic fatigue”.  Subjects were encouraged to dress casually, for Martinez was less interested in depicting the pictorial tropes or visual archetype of police officer, elementary teacher, flight attendant, retail cashier, childcare provider, social worker, and other service industry professionals. The absence of employment attire and environment challenges the general assumption that humans are inseparable from their workplace environment, duties, and responsibilities. Debating and determining which occupation endured the greatest hazard during the pandemic is not the point of this series. This ongoing global pandemic, coupled with other looming, blooming, and longstanding societal conflicts, served as a catalyst to reexamine the worth of oneself and the relationships that define one’s position in life. No name badge or occupational title could defend the overwhelming and cascading impact of Covid.  As an experimental and process-based photographer, Martinez envisaged both the conceptual significance and visual impact of making portraits that involved the unconventional use of hand sanitizer for ink transfer and expressive purposes. The common visual elements emphasized in each photo include a neutral background, personal face covering, shallow field of focus, and the varied directional gaze of the subject. Martinez’s use of hand sanitizer during the image transfer process is befitting for obvious reasons related to the pandemic, but it also assists in creating a metaphor for the shared haze of uncertainty that once endures during such stressful times. The selective hand manipulation of transferable ink, coupled with the aforementioned common visual elements, allows viewers to see and to feel the concept of “pandemic fatigue” or disassociation.

Whether one understands their occupation as either a “sacrificial” or “essential” worker is one that varies according to each person’s individual experiences at their workplace. It is an uneasy question that may lead to deeper questions, greater concerns, and possible actions for improvement. Nevertheless, it is important for communities to question, recognize, and understand what it means to protect and to love during times of uncertainty and distress, for one’s awareness and attention of others determines a community’s direction while navigating together through the haze.

About the Artist:

Antonio Jacob Martinez (b. 1979- present) earned his BFA in painting at Creighton University in 2001 and an MFA in photography at East Carolina University in 2005. Antonio has been teaching photography courses at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL since 2005. His first notable body of work, Near the Egress, grabbed the attention of Houston Fotofest 2010 reviewers such as Jim Casper of Lensculture, Robert Rauschenburg of Blue Sky Gallery, and Lisa Sutcliffe of SFMOMA, for its non-conventional use of modern tintype photography and stop-motion video. Years later, Antonio presented his cagefighting series, How to Hug and Other Sublimations of Men, to reviewers and collectors at the Houston Fotofest 2016 and PhotoNOLA 2016 portfolio review session, and, again, received praise for pushing the boundaries of post-production photographic techniques. Influenced by both, early photo Pictorialism and experimental imagemakers of the 20th century, Antonio explores the endless possibilities of expression through various blends of photographic processes and technologies, which often yield unique prints that explore themes related to vulnerability and impermanence.

**This exhibit was supported by the Arts Midwest GIG Fund 2022

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