Martie Zelt: In Spaces Between presents more than thirty assemblages produced over the past twelve years. Zelt’s works are a blend of techniques and materials including photo etching, monotypes, collagraphy, and drawing—often on or in conjunction with handmade paper—that are sewn, glued, or fused together in the papermaking or printmaking process along with bits of patterned fabric and natural elements. Within an art historical context, Zelt’s work can be considered a product of experimentation and artistic growth in the wake of Abstract Expressionism. Nonetheless, her style is not imitative and uniquely alludes to personal experiences including travels, friends, and a love of nature. While at first glance one is taken in by the abstract, formalistic qualities—the interaction of textures, colors, patterns, and shapes—the narrative quietly interjects itself, prompted by visual clues and titles such as Garden Kite #3 or A Letter From Sylvia.
Zelt was born in Pennsylvania in 1930, and she later lived in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where her father was stationed during part of World War II. There, she was introduced to the Spanish language, Native American art, and the work of Roswell artist Peter Hurd who’s mural was in the local post office. She went on to study painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. In the 1950s, Zelt lived in Spain followed by Brazil, studying printmaking while absorbing the surrounding culture. In the early 1960s, she lived briefly in New Mexico, but returned to Philadelphia where she created large geometric silkscreened works influenced by Navajo art, as well as Josef Albers’ color theories. In the mid-1970s, her work took a dramatic turn after a visit with papermaker Joe Wilfer—becoming progressively more expressive with mixed media and handmade paper. In 1982, Zelt came to Roswell on the Artist-in-Residence grant. She then taught in Vera Cruz, Mexico, and on the East Coast, eventually settling permanently in Roswell after a second residency in 1989.
Martie Zelt’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, Brazil and Mexico, and is in many public collections including The Albuquerque Museum, The University of New Mexico, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, and the Roswell Museum and Art Center.
The artist wishes to dedicate this exhibition to Tom Burleson, Roswell’s “Tree Man,” whose plantings have provided her inspiration in recent years.