Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Unveiling Black womanhood in art

Printmaker Delita Martin’s work at the Southwest campus through Mar. 22
Samantha Ysaguirre

Delita Martin is an artist currently based in Huffman, Texas. She received a BFA in drawing from Texas Southern University and an MFA in printmaking from Purdue University.

Martin is known for inserting representations of Black women in her artwork in such a manner of complexity and rich and profuse narrative portraits that draw viewers to a new experience. She uses unexpected and evocative perspectives to highlight the hidden spirits of the everyday. Her projects have mostly been inspired by African American women who are often ignored. 

“They are draped, submerged and bisected in blue; it is the color of the supreme goddess of many Afrocentric religions,” Guest Curator Aissatou Sidime-Blanton said. Many prints represent women of color in traditional hair customs, jewelry and clothing. Even the colors used, such as the hues of orange and yellow, enhance the vibrancy of Afrocentric traditions.

Various prints in the gallery follow a blue color scheme. However, one piece consists of text featuring a quote by Martin herself, which is described to be derived from the spirituality of water. “I rush to the Ocean’s edge,” Martin wrote. “Somebody told me. The Ocean could wash my blues away, carry them out to sea. After all, ain’t that how the water got its color?” Her latest exhibit, “Follow the Waters,” features 11 artworks in one room and another 10 of her works in another room. Half the exhibition is retrospective, from undergraduate and graduate, and half is new.

Together, the exhibit contains 30 pieces of artwork. These pieces invite the audience to immerse themselves in a world where blue takes center stage, containing within its spiritual connections between the color blue and the spiritual element of water. 

Her following piece, “The Dinner Table” (2018), consists of a table, six chairs and 300 plates drawn in litho crayon. Martin decided to create an homage to her community after “The Dinner Party” (1974-79) was viewed as problematic, with few women of color. In her piece, Chicago created a table with 39 place settings, large decorative plates and table runners to honor famous women throughout history.

However, in over one year, Martin photographed 300 different women and girls and drew their portraits on individual white ceramic plates that were found and donated. She specifically picked pieces with history and spirit. To keep their stories circulating, the dishes are shown with a table for viewers to sit and meditate on.

Another of her works is “Six Persimmons,” which is from 2019 and works with acrylic, charcoal, decorative papers, hand stitching and relief print. Martin has the women and girls gaze serenely while seated or standing. In “Six Persimmons,” they float in face-to-face intimacy that recalls twins in utero at play.

Martin’s works have been featured at prestigious international festivals, including Art Basel and the 2022 Venice Biennale. At 51, Martin is in the middle of her career, yet she has mastered numerous printing techniques in two decades. Martin is a full-time artist in her studio, Black Box Press, while her works receive international recognition. 

Feature works of expert printmaker Delita Martin’s solo exhibition are presented by the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, collaborating with UTSA Arts from Jan. 26 until March 22 at the Southwest Campus of Art, Russell Hill Rogers Galleries, 1201 Navarro St. The gallery hours are 12 to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. There is limited two-hour street parking on Richmond St., free parking in Employee A and B, and commuter spots from 4:30 p.m. Fridays to 7 a.m. the following Monday.


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About the Contributor
Samantha Ysaguirre, Staff Writer
Hi, I am Samantha Ysaguirre. My pronouns are she/they. I am obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art specializing in drawing and am a Junior at The University of Texas at San Antonio. I have written for the Paisano for four months, exploring Art and poetry. A few interests outside the two involve reading and practicing contemporary dance.

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