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Artist María Martínez-Cañas in "Staging the Self" - National Portrait Gallery
Interview with artist María Martínez-Cañas, her works are part of our exhibition "Portraiture Now: Staging the Self" on display at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery from August 22, 2014 through April 12, 2015 ( ). “Portraiture Now: Staging the Self” features the work of David Antonio Cruz, Carlee Fernandez, María Martínez-Cañas, Rachelle Mozman, Karen Miranda Rivadeneira, and Michael Vasquez, all artists of Latino background, who make us aware of how identities are constructed and negotiated via portraiture. Seeking to relieve portraiture of its charge to memorialize individuals and convey essential aspects of their identities, they use it instead to explore the ambiguities and changes in individual character. Theatricality is central to their inquiry, as they represent narratives remembered or imagined from their own family histories, or superimpose portraits of their loved ones over themselves, looking for what is shared or unique in individuality, searching like an actor for a character. As they present themselves in a staged manner, portraiture loses its aura of certainty, and becomes an evolving map for finding oneself and others. María Martínez-Cañas seems to have been born with a camera: at eight years old she was working with a Polaroid Swinger and then a Twin-Lens Rolleiflex that her mother brought from Cuba. Martínez-Cañas was raised in Puerto Rico, where her love of photography and art has culminated in awards and exhibitions. As an undergraduate at the Philadelphia College of Art and in graduate school at the Art Institute of Chicago, Martínez-Cañas embraced experimental photography, pushing beyond the documentary use of the medium to a poetic territory that combines drawing, collage, and photomontage. Maps, family photographs, and art historical images recur in her work as visual markers documenting and reinventing the past. The series "Duplicity as Identity" consists of nine images in which the artist overlays a photograph of herself onto one of her father, posed identically and taken at approximately the same age. Martínez-Cañas then creates incremental mixes of her and her father that go from 10 percent of his image over 90 percent of hers all the way to 10 percent of hers over 90 percent of his, confounding their identities into one. --- Music: "Feel Good (Instrumental)" by Broke For Free From Free Music Archive Used via Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License
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4 min
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