written by Arlene Mejorado
Amara Betty Martin is a multifaceted artist with no limitations in the avenues she takes to express her experiences and compassion she holds for the communities that shape her. She identifies as a second generation Puerto Rican Afro-Latina from Chicago. Amara Betty uses original photographs and collages them with found images, poetic text, and colorful illustrations to evoke a surreality of everyday life in the urban landscape.
Her art speaks to resilience in the concrete environment that we reside in by meshing rich imagery of “home” and common beauty with the gritty cityscape. Her visual pieces are meant to inspire foundational questions about poverty, racism, institutional oppression, gentrification/displacement, and spirituality. These pieces of art are an exercise in visual storytelling and cultural memory.
Amara Betty Martin explains:
“My work is a walking biography of my own experience growing up in Chicago as a second generation Puerto Rican in the hood. My work is colored by the sights, sounds, culture and struggle of my community and in many ways becomes a shared cultural expression through use of common cultural symbols and iconography. I am always attempting to preserve our stories and give voice to those stories that may never be told. I do this through visual, literary and collaborative means. This manifests itself through urban photography, collage, captured sound, poetry, text and pattern based works and music. All of this combining to tell a unique urban story through work that is colorful, cultural and provides accessible liberatory storytelling in the face of immense social struggle, gentrification, cultural homogenization, state violence and migration.
Through examining elements of culture, local and global social justice movements, liberation, community and state repression in a style that is colorfully urban, progressive, afro-latino, indigenous I hope to connect with communities and audiences who might not normally find art that is reflective of this experience and thought process. My work a an organizer reflects my passion for cultural preservation, DIY culture and independent avenues for creative and political expression.”
For more on her work, please visit her official site: amarasmartin.wix.com