Interdisciplinary artist Mär Martinez followed her muse to a big win at this year’s FusionFest multicultural festival, receiving the $1,000 grand prize in the event’s Visual Art competition. A panel of expert judges named Martinez’s sculptural paintings the best artworks on display at the two-day festival, which returned to downtown Orlando November 30 and December 1.
An artist of both Syrian and Cuban background, Martinez chose to explore the pressures faced by Arab women in her award-winning entries, the oil-on-wood Aboudaken and the acrylic-on-canvas Teta.
“My work explores systematic power dynamics that breed dominance and aggression based on gender, ethnicity and sexual identity within our society,” Martinez says. “Historically, it has been very difficult for women, especially minority women, to access autonomy and freedom of expression within both Western and Middle Eastern cultures.
“The hand-cutting of the pieces is a crucial part of my process,” she explains. “The violent act of stripping figures from their context mimics how power can be given and taken away.”
Approximately 15,000 people attended the second annual FusionFest, which celebrated the blending of more than 100 local heritage communities through art, music, dance, food and other forms of creative expression. For Martinez, the event showcased the cultural variety and artistic opportunity that have brought her to Orlando after previous stints living in Lakeland, St. Petersburg and originally New Mexico.
“Orlando values diversity,” she says. “FusionFest is a prime example of the desire to open a dialogue where all voices can exist within the conversation. The festival was an explosion of color, sound and smells! I enjoyed seeing the creativity of the city expressed through food, clothing, performance and visual art. There were a lot of very talented artists representing their heritage, and I am proud to have participated.”
To see more of Martinez’s work, visit marmartinezart.com, or follow her on Instagram: @meatvoid
The festival will return to the Seneff Arts Plaza at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the Orlando City Hall Commons Plaza for its third annual edition, scheduled for November 28 and 29, 2020.
FusionFest is a project of the Downtown Arts District, with support from Orange County Government, the Orlando Downtown Development Board and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. In its inaugural edition, the event received the Award of Excellence in the Downtown Orlando Partnership’s Golden Brick Awards, and took first place in the “Community Outreach Program” category of the Florida Festivals and Events Association’s SunSational Awards.