Norris_IMG_3029.JPGA selection of Victoria Martinez’s latest fabric installations, paintings, collages and soft sculptures are on exhibit through April 31 during her monthlong show “Wizard Can,” at Northwestern University’s Dittmar Memorial Gallery.


Martinez, a whiz at transforming ordinary household items, also will present a free Artist Talk at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at the Dittmar.


Free and open to the public, the Evanston campus gallery is located on the first floor of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive (pictured).


The exhibition’s quirky title -- “Wizard Can” -- is meant to reflect the artist’s one-woman show, which Martinez likes to think of “as an exploding metal aluminum can full of fun.”


The show’s title was inspired by a friend who altered her voice as she recited a line from “The Wizard of Oz”; and another friend who refers to Martinez as a “wizard” because of her ability to juggle various art projects and teach four classes per week.


“I also have been researching wizards and read that wizards are only men, which is interesting to me because I believe women can do whatever they please as long as they set their mind on their goals.”


The interdisciplinary artist turns fashion and home decorating fabrics, bed linens and clear plastic sheeting (the kind used for see-through covers to protect upholstered sofas and easy chairs from wear and tear) into cheerful pieces she considers her “environmental interventions.”


As an artist who responds to her environment, Martinez’s most recent works embody her research from culturally vibrant locations in Chicago’s Pilsen community -- where she grew up and continues to live. They also reflect her recent visit to the archaeological ruins in Teotihuacan, Mexico, built between the 1st and 7th centuries and rhythmic patterns she encounters in gritty abandoned spaces that embrace the urban environment.


Martinez’s art works incorporate bed sheets, paisley scarves, tablecloths, sections of hand-painted produce signs from Mexican grocery stores, old clothing from the artist's apartment, fabric scraps from her childhood home in Pilsen, as well as fabrics and decorative trim she found at neighborhood thrift stores, marketplaces and a textile warehouse.


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