May 18, 2017

Patrick Martinez
American Memorial

Rollins College

Left: Patrick Martinez, Then They Came For Me, 2016. Neon, 20.5 x 26 inches. Collection of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, 2017.7. Gift of Susan and Bob Battaglia, Margie Pabst Steinmetz and Chuck Steinmetz. Right: Patrick Martinez, American Memorial, 2016. Ceramic, acrylic, and stucco on panel, 60 x 60 inches. Collection of Dr. David Rosenberg and Dr. Jessica Lattman. Images courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery.


Patrick Martinez: American Memorial is on view at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum from May 25 to September 10, 2017. In Martinez's work, memorials take myriad forms. The act of mourning offers an opportunity to express pain and to demonstrate respect. In public, mourning can function as a political protest, a defiant act, and ultimately an expression of love. Memorials exist as material manifestations of mourning. For Martinez, memorials are found in daily-life and rendered in paint, neon, and with re-purposed school folders.

Hip Hop culture and graffiti served as early influences for the artist. Martinez remains in tune with popular culture, and is deeply concerned with current events. With his neons, the artist re-imagines texts that reflect hard realities, truths, and embody struggle and fear. These words become amplified and reverberate in our collective consciousness. For example, in Free 99 (Hold Ya Head), Martinez uses the lyrics of the deceased rapper Tupac Shakur, "Currency means nothin' if you still ain't free." The artist often employs deceptively playful materials like neon and draws from popular sources like rap music to produce deeply poignant and timely work. His neon, Then They Came For Me, haunts as a reminder of the fragility of personal safety and of a just society. While the phrase is steeped in history, it resonates today. "Patrick Martinez's art is both timely and consequential; his works offer a nuanced, yet forceful commentary on contemporary society. As the dialogue they spark is particularly welcome on a campus, we are delighted to organize this exhibition—his first solo show in a museum," states Cornell Fine Arts Museum director Ena Heller, PhD.

In other recent works inspired by Pee Chee school folders, Martinez creates complex portrayals of people who too often are depicted without respect and dignity. More specifically, the artist presents people of color who are victims of excessive force and police brutality. His early success as an illustrator and designer for record labels enables his multilayered subversion of traditional school folders.

A number of paintings in the show such as American Memorial pay tribute to floral memorials. The ubiquitous use of flowers to commemorate loss or, in some cases, the intervention of flowers in daily life that inspire a meditation on the meaning of beauty emanate from these works. With a colorful palette, the artist leverages buoyant aesthetics. The works feel both celebratory and subversive in their examination of individual and communal pain.

Born in 1980, Martinez lives and works in Los Angeles, California. His work was recently featured in the Los Angeles Times and in group exhibitions at the Museum of Latin American Art and the Vincent Price Museum. The permanent collection of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum includes five works by the artist. This exhibition marks the artist’s first solo presentation at a museum.

The Cornell Fine Arts Museum
Set on the Rollins College campus overlooking beautiful Lake Virginia, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum is the only teaching museum in the greater Orlando area. Its broad scope holdings of more than 5,500 objects range from antiquity through contemporary and include the only European Old Masters collection in the Orlando area, a sizable American art collection, and the forward-looking Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art. The Alfond Collection is shown both at the Museum and The Alfond Inn a few blocks from campus, a visionary philanthropic boutique hotel whose proceeds help fund student scholarships.

Visitor information
T 407 646 2526
Hours: Tuesday 10am–7pm, Wednesday–Friday 10am–4pm, Saturday–Sunday noon–5pm
Closed Mondays, major holidays, and during installation periods

CFAM public tours
Free staff-led tours on Saturdays at 1pm
Third Thursday of the month at 12:30pm, unless otherwise noted
Private tours for groups of eight or more email ecoulter [​at​]

Museum admission
Free admission courtesy of Dale Montgomery '60

Alfond Inn location
The Alfond Inn at Rollins College
300 East New England Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789

Alfond Inn art tours
Free staff-led tours on Sundays at 1pm
First Wednesday of the month at 5:30pm, unless otherwise noted
Audio guide available at:

Media contact
Sandy Todd, Cornell Fine Arts Museum
T 407 646 1595 / stodd [​at​]

Thank you!

An email with a confirmation link has been sent to the email address you entered. To complete your subscription, click this link.