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