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Absence Revealed

Absence Revealed

The Bass announces the opening of Absence Revealed, an exhibition featuring a new series of works by the same name by experimental photo-based artist María Martínez-Cañas opening April 14, 2022, and on view through October 23, 2022.

The new works forming the series Absence Revealed came about through two different personal events in the artist’s life: the loss of her mother and the chance finding of her home’s original 1920’s wallpaper while renovating. The works highlight physical and emotional processes of excavation: the act of revealing and uncovering, as well as the surfacing of pain, loss, and absence. Martínez-Cañas created these works by collaging items from her personal archive of found objects, actively engaging with ideas of memory and loss. Using materials that the artist’s mother had taken from Cuba during her exile in 1960, the works re-arrange personal stories, often complicating her understanding of her personal history.

By objectifying emotions and investigating the duality that develops through different interpretations, Martínez-Cañas increases the dynamic relationship between the viewer and the artist. The artist notes, “By experimenting with different and unconventional processes, I reflect on the closely related subjects of archive and memory. This often results in an examination of both the human need for conclusive stories and the question of whether anecdotes fictionalize history.”

The Bass will host special events with the artist throughout the year highlighting her solo exhibition. Join The Bass’ Curator Leilani Lynch and María Martínez Cañas on Sunday May 15 for Brunch at The Bass, a members-only conversation and tour focused on Absence Revealed. This coming fall, join The Bass and María Martínez-Cañas on Thursday October 20, 2022, for a closing public program presented in collaboration with Illuminarts. More information is available at thebass.org.

María Martínez-Cañas: Absence Revealed is curated by Leilani Lynch.

María Martínez-Cañas was born in 1960 in Cuba. Her family moved to Miami when she was three months old and later then to Puerto Rico in 1964. A gifted photographer, she had her first exhibition in 1977, Reflejos, at Galería Casa Aboy in San Juan. She graduated from the Philadelphia College of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography in 1982 and two years later earned a MFA  from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Martínez-Cañas had her first solo museum show in 1983, María Martínez-Cañas: Photographs at the Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico. In 1985 She received a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship to photograph and conduct research in Spain, using archival sources such as historical maps and documents from the Archivo de Indias in Seville and Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid to inspire the creation of negatives based on Cuban maps. She returned to the United States in 1986 and has since settled in Miami.

Documents related to Cuba often have formed the basis for Martínez-Cañas’s photographs and are sometimes contrasted with openings and closings, the revealed and the hidden. Throughout her career Martínez-Cañas has experimented with different photographic techniques. In the 1990’s, two series highlight her interest in photomontage and imagery inspired from her Cuban heritage: Totems Negros and Quince Sellos Cubanos (Fifteen Cuban Stamps). In the 2000s she presented several series based on digitally manipulated photographs taken by art critic José Gómez-Sicre along with photographs of her father, José Martínez-Cañas. The resulting works were technical inventions honoring fatherly figures. Martínez-Cañas’s experiments with photography include using stains, saliva, and vegetative matter as well as printing on tapestry, newsprint and vellum. She began to combine photographic images with hand-traced drawings printed on canvas for the Tracing series in 2007.

Martínez-Cañas received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant and has received many awards and grants, including a National Endowment for the Arts grant (1988) and a Civitella Ranieri Foundation fellowship (2014) in Umbertide, Italy. Her photographs are in private and public collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami; and Museum of Modern Art in New York, among many others.


Gallery Materials

The exhibition is part of the Knight Art Commissions Program funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit KF.org.

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. In accordance with Andy Warhol’s will, the mission of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts is the advancement of the visual arts. The foundation manages an innovative and flexible grants program while also preserving Warhol’s legacy through creative and responsible licensing policies and extensive scholarly research for ongoing catalogue raisonné projects. To date, the foundation has given nearly $260 million in cash grants to over 1,000 arts organizations in 49 states and abroad and has donated 52,786 works of art to 322 institutions worldwide.

The presentation of these works is funded with support from Oolite Arts’ Michael Richards Award.