Martie Zelt, An Artistic Inspiration

07 Sep

Martie and I during her last visit to Mexico City earlier this year

I met Martie Zelt a few years ago while I was giving a tour to a group of Fulbright Scholarship holders being prepped for their stay in Mexico.  She was on her way to Xalapa, Veracruz to specialize in papermaking, her passion since 1976.  I did not know at the time that Martie was an accomplished artist, but her charisma and intense curiosity about Mexico set her apart from the herd.  Only later did I come to find out that she was 80,  ex-wife of late Spanish poet Rafael Millán Pinillos, in Mexico as a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Scholar.  That was 2008-2009.

The famous Hollander paper beater Martie helped assemble at the Instituto de Artes Plásticas in Xalapa

I have maintained contact with Martie – she is someone you don’t want to lose track of!   Based in New Mexico, she dedicates most of her time to paper and printmaking in her studio located in the Southwest of the United States. She visits Mexico sporadically, where I get the chance to catch up with her –  trying to follow and understand her creative production and development.  Martie has held numerous solo and group exhibitions, not only in US museums and galleries, but also in Brazil, Spain and Mexico.  She has pieces in permanent collections in Princeton and Yale Universities, the Brooklyn Museum, Carnegie Institute Museum of Art, the Penna Academy of Fine Arts Museum of American Art in Philadelphia and the Roswell Museum and Art Center in New Mexico.

Martie overseeing papermaking, a process more complex than you'd expect!

She recently participated in the VI International Biennial of Contemporary Textile Art with an sample of her latest endeavors.  If you are not familiar with World Textile Art (WTA), it is a recently founded organization, aimed at bridging the gap between the Americas (North and South, that is) by promoting art through on-going workshops and cultural exchange.  This year’s WTA gathering was held  simultaneously in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico City and in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca.

"Peach Walking," handmade paper and collagraph (about 17" x 16," 2009)

Martie became involved with well known artists in Veracruz developing sustainable, fine paper made from local plant materials, while helping design and build a “Hollander beater,” a paper-making machine (dating back to the 1600s) at the Instituto de Artes Plásticas within the Universidad Veracruzana (see photo above) .  With her unending creative spirit and energy, she also initiated a recycling program and an ambitious quilt-size paperwork celebrating about 25 taxi drivers.

"Aire y Sombras" - the piece selected for display during the recent biennial in the Anahuacalli Museum in Mexico City (handmade paper, relief print with additions, about 29" x 29," 2011)

She is the author of a 32 foot mural in the Roswell Civic Center, which is a mixed media work using tiles, shards, mirrors an other materials.  Her degree  in mural painting and graphics from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts prepared her early in life for a rich, productive 60 year career.  You are an inspiration  to all of us, Martie.  Can’t wait to see your latest projects!

Martie resting in downtown Mexico City on a Leonora Carrington sculpture - May 2011

NOTE:  All of the photographs in this particular entry were provided by Martie and José Valles Rivera. Thanks for sharing the wealth!


Posted by on September 7, 2011 in Contemporary Art, Mavens


10 responses to “Martie Zelt, An Artistic Inspiration

  1. Pilar R. Romo

    September 8, 2011 at 9:24 am

    ¡Great, Martie! love and a very, very big kiss.

  2. Ruth Wolf

    September 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Martie is and has always been an inspiration. From a former student and always a friend

  3. Alvarado Alina

    September 16, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Felicidades!! que contentos nos sentimos por usted y orgullosos de conoserla.

  4. judy miller

    October 6, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    She has always been an inspiration of creativity and beauty to me! So much fun to see recent work. Thank you for the post.

    • Mexican Museums and Mavens

      October 14, 2011 at 3:32 am

      I am a great fan of Martie. Hopefully she will continue to be inspired by Mexico, and an inspiration
      to her fellow colleagues in Latin America!

  5. Peter Lister

    October 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    How grand that this appreciation comes to Martie! She has left a trail of art and friendship across the USA as well as Mexico, Spain, Brazil.

    • Mexican Museums and Mavens

      October 14, 2011 at 3:31 am

      Welcome to the blog, Peter. We’ll stay tuned to see how Martie’s works continue to grow!
      She is highly capable and amazingly creative. Lynda


    April 16, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    You are so interesting! I do not suppose I’ve truly read through anything like that before. So great to discover somebody with genuine thoughts on this subject. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is required on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

  7. Peter Lister

    April 17, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    A few years later I can only add that I marvel at the persistence of her explorations.

  8. Lynn Compton

    January 7, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Martie’s inspiration and strength has always stayed with me. She was my instructor of printmaking and papermaking as well as design and color in the 1980’s in Virginia. She invited all of us(students) to her home for lentil soup. “My first lentil”… I am an elementary art teacher now. I can remember that nothing seemed to rattle Martie. She was a rock! I want to be more like her.


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