John Martin (JMa 717)

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Untitled (JMa 717), 1998
Pastel and ink on paper
22x30 inches


Born 1963, Marks, Mississippi
Has practiced at Creative Growth since 1987

John Martin creates drawings, ceramics, and woodwork that synthesize his memories of a family farm in Mississippi with his modern life in Oakland. Martin commonly depicts images of trucks, snakes, pocket knives, cell phones and other items from his collection of found objects, which have informed his oeuvre since 1987 when he joined Creative Growth’s studio. His interpretations both describe their function and subvert practicality through his outrageous animal mash-ups, oversized Leatherman tools, and mysterious text. Fish become knives, alligators become saws, John himself becomes a Nokia phone, a multi-tool is splayed open to reveal a grinning shark. His wry sense of humor is evident in all of his compositions, translating utilitarian imagery into a graphic and animated aesthetic. In 2014, Martin was invited to create a site-specific installation as part of Facebook’s inaugural Artist In Residence program at the Frank Gehry-designed campus in Palo Alto.

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