Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead

Limited Edition Sugar skull rings and cuff by Marisa Martinez 2015

Limited Edition Sugar skull rings and cuff by Marisa Martinez 2015

This Fall I am very excited to announce the launch of my new line of Limited Edition Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead Jewelry. I hope you enjoy these new playful pieces as much as I enjoyed creating them. Over the years I have incorporated a few sugar skulls in my work here and there and people sometimes ask, “what is with the skulls?” I love this question because it offers me an opportunity to talk about my beautiful Mexican cultural heritage and it’s traditions. Most of the time people assume that I really like Halloween. Others think it is all about death or something scary. So I wanted to take this opportunity to fill you in on one of the most sacred and beautiful traditions in the world.

Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead is simply put a celebration of life. For three days we celebrate the lives of the people we love who have passed. We remember them, what they liked to eat, their favorite music, their stories. During those three day we prepare ofrendas/ alters for those who have passed filled with beautiful flowers, delicious food, and recuerdos (special momentos or pictures) of the loved ones. We make or buy sugar skulls with our children to teach them to not fear the dead or death itself. We sometimes even paint our faces as sugar skulls to participate in the celebration of our loved ones return. These sugar skulls represent the people who died. They are a symbol of this celebration of life in our culture. We believe that the actual spirits of our loved ones come to visit us during this time. It is a beautiful sacred time for us to be with them again and a time for us to remember them and pass on their stories to our children.

Over the years many more of our people have begun to celebrate this tradition here in the USA. As a Xicana, a Mexican born here to a migrant worker family, I am very proud of my culture and heritage. I want my son’s to grow up knowing about their beautiful culture and heritage and to be proud as well. It is so amazing to see that the beauty of our traditions have survived and made it all the way here to Minnesota. Being displaced from my roots at a young age I didn’t grow up celebrating many of my cultural holidays. It wasn’t until I came here in college that I found myself again. I am so happy that now I am able to share this with my children and that they will learn to pass it onto theirs too. This line is made in celebration of that. I chose the symbol of the sugar skull because of it’s duality and playfulness. I want people to wear these pieces and feel my joy of being able to celebrate my cultural heritage. I want these pieces to be a recuerdo (reminder) to never forget those we love who have left this world. To celebrate our loved ones and the lives they lived. And ultimately to remind ourselves to live our lives with passion and intent because someday someone will be remembering us and telling our story.

I am also very happy to be included again in this Year’s Festival de las Calaveras (Sugar Skulls) I will be showing my work at Electric Machete’s new gallery in St. Paul on their opening night on Oct. 16th at 7pm. Last year two of my shrines/ ofrendas were included but this year I will be showcasing my new line of Calavera jewelry. There will be the limited edition artisan line as well as an expanded calavera everyday wear line. So please come by the opening if you can and see it!

Warmly,

Marisa

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And in case you are wondering…What’s Festival de las Calaveras in Minnesota all about?

Festival de las Calaveras is a multimedia Latino music and arts festival organized and presented by Tlalnepantla Arts. The festival focuses on the traditional and contemporary celebration of Day of the Dead, which honors the memory of ancestors and loved ones, the duality of life and death, and the corn growing season.

In 2013, the first festival was organized to bring awareness to the Zenteotl Project’s community gardening work that is dedicated to planting blue corn, and extends the collective Day of the Dead ofrenda (offering) that culminates the corn growing season on the same plot where the corn is planted in south Minneapolis.

The festival extends the mission of Tlalnepantla Arts to honor and share an indigenous Mexican tradition with the Latino community and the Twin Cities, and to build a platform for the presentation of multiple forms of art and creativity that express our cultural pride.

Fore more information about Tlalnepantla Arts and the Zenteotl Project, please visit

The Zenteotl Project strives to reclaim and recover our connection with zentli (corn), the earth, and community through gardening and creative expression in our urban Minneapolis environment. zenteotl.org

Let’s get personal

Words to remember!

Words to remember!

I can’t believe it’s almost APRIL. It seems as if I am always chasing time and I can’t seem to catch it! Growing two boys, two creatures, a relationship and a new studio is both a blessing and the challenge of a lifetime.

This morning I was inspired by another woman’s blog. The honesty and rawness in her blog imprinted on me and gave me the strength to start writing here. Her sharing her life reminded me that I am not alone and that there is always something to be hopeful about. Thank you Lisa Leonard!

This blog has primarily been about my work. I don’t usually share much about my personal life here but I think it’s time. I have feared that being totally honest and open on here for everyone to see would be to much. That it would make me too vulnerable. I am starting to realize that everything I do is all so interwoven. My personal and family life are at the core of my journey. When I try to keep everything so separate I start to feel insincere and less genuine. I am who I am, why try to hide that?

I have always believed that we as people carry a light in us. If that light is bright others are drawn to it, it warms them and feeds their soul. If it is dim, others can’t see them as well. They are left confused and wonder away. I feel that my light has been dim for a while now, my heart heavy with worry and sadness for things that I cannot control. I am usually able to stay positive despite the challenges that present themselves. But these past couple of years have pushed me past any limits I thought I had. They forced me to pull in. Hold tight to my children and close loved ones and create a tightly woven cocoon.

Good Point!

Good Point!

Amidst the struggles of being a single parent and raising two children with very different special needs, embarking on a journey with a partner to find and create a safe place to call home, and revitalizing a business, I am starting to feel my light return. Much like my anticipation for spring to finally arrive here in Minnesota after a long hard winter, I am ready to emerge from this tightly woven cocoon and begin again. Creating has always been an integral part of my light. It feeds me like nothing else. It has healed me and It has brought opportunities for new beginnings and special connections I would not otherwise have.

Now more than ever I feel like my studio is my “happy place.” It is a place where mistakes are opportunities and failure and worries are far from my mind. I am so thankful to have it right in my backyard. Being free of anxiety about being away from my children brings some much needed peace. I am looking forward. I am growing excitement in my heart for the good things to come.

These days I am working hard on developing new pieces for my lines and stocking my inventory for upcoming shows. My neck and fingers are sore from the intensity of the work but I am welcoming the pains of the bench and my mind and hands are full of energy once again! My newest line of jewelry, the PAPEL PICADO (cut paper art) series, is blooming day by day. I am even dreaming of new ides. When I dream about it I know I am on the right track! This series is so special to me because it originates from a tradition in my culture that has deep roots. It is a treasured folk art from Mexico that often involves complicated designs being transferred to tissue paper or other surfaces and then cut, or punched out with special tools by local artisans. These are then turned into banners or flags and used to decorate on special celebrations such as weddings, life celebrations, and holidays. To me they represent a reminder to celebrate life everyday.

Yreina of Ay Mujer at work!

/ Yreina of Ay Mujer at work!

Many contemporary papel picado artists like the amazing Yreina Ortiz of Ay Mujer! create much more elaborate designs and have taken to laser cutting their work in order to grow their businesses. For now I am enjoying the process of hand sawing out my designs in sterling silver with a tiny jeweler’s saw blade. The process is very slow and tedious but it helps calm my mind and fill my soul.

Follow me on Facebook/marisa or Intsagram/marisa to see my progress!

 

 

A Dream Made Real

We broke ground in June of 2013

We broke ground in June of 2013

For the past 7 years I have been renting studio space in the NE Minneapolis Arts District. When I first started making jewelry 9 years ago I worked out of my three season 6 x 9ft back porch. Fully loaded with a space heater and heat lamps for those MN winters. I drove at least once a week 40 miles to Northfield for instruction from my mentor Leanne and rented studio time from another Northfield artist Jennifer. In her studio I had access to a torch, a kiln, and other cool tools I didn’t have the money or space for. I remember those days fondly as I know they were integral in my journey.

Much has happened in the past 9 years. Primarily, my two little boys are now 10 and 12. Not little boys anymore. They have made this journey with me as I started this venture when they were just babies and the chapter of my life as wife and stay at home mom was ending. They have watched me struggle and cry as well as triumph and leap for joy with the ups and downs of this business. They have spent many a day in the studio with me, movies, games and sketchbooks in tow, so I can work. They have been drug to shows, and fairs. Essentially they have grown with my business and really know nothing different. As a single mom this business has been such a blessing. It has allowed me the flexibility to be there for my children in ways a normal 9-5 wouldn’t. One of my children, the oldest being Autistic and having epilepsy has fueled my drive to make this business succeed. I need to not only be able to provide for these two but I need to be able to be available anytime, without the added stress of losing a job due to missing work for being called home to care for him. This business has given me that.

The past two years have brought challenges beyond any I could have imagined. These challenges have brought me to my knees, praying for guidance and help. They also brought me a gift. Another “angel.” Her name is Kristina. She has changed my life forever. We bought a home last March. A dream come true in and of itself. This home is nestled in St. Paul and we are surrounded with great neighbors and close to friends and everything we need. The boys are settled and happy beyond belief in having their own rooms and lots of boys their age to play with on our street. As if it couldn’t get more perfect, there was also a large backyard with room for a studio! YES a HOME STUDIO! A place I can work anytime day or night. Having my children close, comfortable and safe. Saving the driving time and rent money of an away studio. The benefits are too many to list. I wanted to share with you all a photo journey of the process of building this studio. It was pretty stressful at times. Construction never goes as planned. It tested our patience over and over, but in the end it was all worth it!

I am so excited to share this space with clients and students. Please contact me at info@marisa-martinez.com to set up a visit or to schedule a class!

Building the foundation

Building the foundation

Foundation poured

Foundation poured

Ready to start framing.

Ready to start framing.

Framing has started!

Framing has started!

Almost done framing.

Almost done framing.

A look inside...

A look inside…

Roofing underway

Roofing underway

Roof done, sheet rock, windows, and doors!

Roof done, sheet rock, windows, and doors!

Sheetrock and mudding inside.

Sheetrock and mudding inside.

bowling alley floor counter tops going in.

bowling alley floor counter tops going in.

Plywood sheet floors and lighting goes in upstairs.

Plywood sheet floors and lighting goes in upstairs.

Painting and lights outside- Alley view

Painting and lights outside- Alley view

Backyard view

Backyard view

Inside finishes -stairs

Inside finishes -stairs

installed counters and lighting- main work area

installed counters and lighting- main work area

The mural begins in the stairwell!

The mural begins in the stairwell!

Kada bringing the under painting to life

Kada bringing the under painting to life

Almost done!

Almost done!