Associate Professor of Visual Arts
M.F.A., University of Arkansas
B.A., Northeastern State University
Bobby C. Martin is a printmaker/painter/educator/curator who works out of his 7 Springs Studio near Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Martin’s artwork is exhibited and collected internationally. He has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions, the most recent being a one-person exhibition entitled Back in the Day, in the East Gallery of the Oklahoma State Capitol in 2011. His most recent curatorial project, Indian Ink, was an exhibition of historic and contemporary Native printmakers from the J.W. Wiggins Collection of Native American Art in Little Rock, Arkansas. Martin’s work is in numerous museum collections, including the Philbrook Museum, Gilcrease Museum, and the Sam Noble Museum. An enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) tribe, he currently serves as an Associate Professor of Visual Arts at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, where he teaches printmaking and screenprinting classes, and art foundation courses.
Old family photographs have long been a deep inspiration and nearly endless resource for my artwork. These images of close kinfolk and distant relatives are icons for me, symbols of a Native American identity that is not seen as “traditional,” but is just as valid and vital to me—a tradition of Indian Christianity and mission schools that has been a part of my family history for generations.
I base many of my works on photographs that belonged to my full-blood Indian grandmother, my aunts, my mother—images found in shoe boxes, forgotten in the bottoms of drawers, or found among the tattered black pages of old leather-bound photo albums. The photographs have very personal meanings for me as the artist, but I have found also that there is an almost universal recognition among viewers of a sense of history and identity, evoking memories of their own family’s past. My art aims to return the viewer to a specific moment in time—not a monumental or historic moment, just a simple, personal moment in one man’s family history. While it may be possible to peel back or peer around the layers in these works to reveal deeper intent, it may be just as possible to look at these works and think about a favorite aunt or Granny’s old Ford truck.
My hope is for my art to become like an old family photograph—perhaps cherished, perhaps stuffed in a box in the attic—but always able to evoke memories every time it is viewed.