Artists that adorn the Island: Martha Jimenez loves mud
The Plaza del Carmen, in the heart of Camaguey, is one of the main tourist attractions in a city declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, in 2008. Its construction dates back to the 19th century, but still retains that distinctive colonial style of the Caribbean islands, in the buildings that surround it and the layout of the streets that converge on it.
A lot of history has gone through the Plaza del Carmen that has seen, almost without modifications, the occurrence of what was one of the richest and most prosperous Spanish villas on the Island, thanks to its livestock potential and the strength of its sugar industry.
Today, the old space is a mixture of tradition and art, a combination capable of trapping the most skeptical passersby, many of them confessed captive of the unique beauty of the works that adorn it.
The culprit of such notoriety is the artist Martha Jimenez, author of the sculptural ensemble that recreates the daily life of the surrounding neighborhoods, very impressive for its originality and creative ability.
Composed of seven sculptures modeled in mud, life-size, the collection was made from the technique of lost mold, which makes each piece unique in its kind, a characteristic that increases its value from an artistic point of view.
The models are, nothing more and nothing less, than local characters. Martha immortalized them in their daily activities. For example, in one of the benches of the square is the work “The newspaper man”, which portrays the octogenarian Norberto Subirats, whom she discovered one day in 2002 reading a copy of the Cuban press.
Subirats posed several hours a day for two months and, as he has repeatedly stated, is the greatest thing that has ever happened to him, because thanks to the resulting work his image is known in points as far away as Russia, Spain and U.S.
In the Plaza del Carmen they also call the attention “The water carrier”, “The lovers” and “The gossipers”. Although they do not faithfully follow any real person, they somehow symbolize pictures of how much is spent daily in that place.
"The gossipers", in particular, is one of the most celebrated pieces by the public. It is made up of the image of three women in conversational attitude and an empty chair. The vacant site stems from the author's purpose of creating a tradition, and she succeeded: there are many people who sit and make a wish, a symbolic act demonstrating human faith in a better future. Maybe they expect one more gossip. It would be hard to know.
Martha Jimenez is more than an artist, she is a chronicler of what happens in the daily life of the city that saw her born. She and her works attract all kinds of curious, because her hands are capable of much more than modeling life-size statues.
In her studio-workshop, located in the immediate vicinity of the mentioned square, Jimenez has given life to her own universe, born of her imaginary and in which she deposits, with the design of each piece, her creative concerns that the specialists say they are not few.
She has successfully ventured into other fields of visual arts. Although her best-known facet is that of a potter because of her exalting work by El Carmen, her catalog of paintings and prints is also worthwhile.
Master in Fine Arts and Adjunct Professor of the Ibero-American Chair of Visual Arts and Design, Martha Jimenez is a symbol of Cuban culture because of the way she has known, through her work, to show the essence of her country's folklore and customs more its people's roots, without giving up universal standards of contemporary visual arts. With this she has ensured that her work is understood in other places.
Some of her works, especially monumental ones, are located in Turkey, Austria, England, Argentina, the United States and Canada. Her pictorial work is also known outside the territory, with exhibitions in galleries in China, Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico and France.
The Gossipers, from small to large scale:
"The gossipers" were born tiny. For them, the author received a UNESCO prize in an edition of the International Craft Fair of Havana. Hence the idea of bringing them on a natural scale and thus perpetuate them in the Plaza del Carmen.
Author: Guillermo Alvarez