Mark Anthony Martinez was born in San Antonio, Texas; Mark Anthony Martinez is a conceptual artist whose works investigate racialized identity via an “off-white” lens. His practice consists of installation, painting, text, and video based works. He received his BFA in Intermedia at the Pacific Northwest College of Art (2011) and MFA in Contemporary Art Practice from Portland State University (2014). Most recently, Martinez served as Visual Arts Director to the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (2015-2017), facilitating over 20 exhibitions. He is currently Gallery Manager at Trinity University and resides in San Antonio, Texas where he maintains his artistic and curatorial pursuits.
Mark Anthony Martinez is an Offwhite [tenuously latino, non-white, non-Black and non-affiliated indigenous], cisgender, hetero-performing, male. Martinez is a conceptual artist, independent curator, and cultural worker.
“Through a conceptual interdisciplinary practice, I make work that investigates how whiteness and the privileges tied to light-skin are often removed from “polite” conversations of racial identity and racism. So often, race is often cast as something that “non-whites” have. This tactic, regardless of intent, is deployed specifically to render whiteness as the “norm,” neutral or altogether invisible in its relation to others.
As a visibly brown (but “not dark”) person, I often contemplate the status or position of my own identity within society’s matrix of power and privilege. It is precisely because I ostensibly read and am profiled as “not-white,” in casual and professional settings that many of my observations exist within an “offwhite” lens. It is through this lens that I attempt to expose the color-based hierarchy manifested in North America. A hierarchy that is informed by the history of uneven assimilation and complicity amongst US Latinos (more specifically Mexican-Americans) since the signing of the Treaty Guadalupe Hidalgo.
The questions I explore revolve chiefly around my own relation to oppressive systems. I’m taking a hard look at my upbringing and the many ways I was taught to associate whiteness with goodness, heroism, innocence, and purity. Associations that are fundamentally and ideologically white supremacist — yet, continue to inform everything from casual assumptions to the criminal justice system. Associations that determine and/or presume a threat to whiteness and — ultimately determine consequence for fitting the profile.
I believe contemporary art provides the ideal forum for an audience to engage with abstract and difficult concepts, not typically discussed at the dinner table or water cooler. As such, my work often omits ostensibly “white” bodies and instead lives as installation, text art, and custom beige tinted interior paint — challenging the notion of whiteness and its political ramifications as neutral.
I believe that in order to illustrate an anti-racist aesthetic, one must orient one’s disposition toward elucidating whiteness as the power structure that it is and grapple with one’s own collusions to an inherited oppressive system.”
-Mark Anthony Martinez