Marta L. Sanchez
Please share with us what inspired you on your creative journey?
There are two things that project me on my creative journey. One is experiences of violence, of trauma, heavy things I cannot process any other way move me to create (either write or draw/paint). Painting and writing are my ways of transforming the events into something useful. I use creativity to sift through the chaos, to rediscover my voice, and to reaffirm my spirit. My images and writing also reflect my major source of support and encouragement: I am inspired by the strong, intelligent, and beautiful women that surround me, by my husband, my friends and my family.
How do you keep motivated on your Self journey?
I don’t. Life is a rollercoaster of emotions, of challenges and opportunities. My newest approach is to just go with the flow as much as possible. I strive to take breaks when I need to, and say no when I need to. That makes motivation less of an issue, because I am moved to do the things I am moved to do, and I don’t need to find some extra strength to keep going. Painting, writing, and speaking, all come naturally. And the reward of connecting with others in a deep and honest way inspires me and keeps me going.
If you had to pick one colour that you are feeling at this moment in your life, which would it be and why?
Electric blue, the color of the sky around the full moon, at the moment when the clouds just parted. The blue that makes you want to dance until your exhausted. The blue that reminds you of your roots and the beads you’d like to string up in your hair. Electric blue of brief lightning and children’s lunch boxes full of bite size surprises.
Please tell us what inspired you to create your current project "Dreams of Ancestors And Angels"?
I was musing about my ancestors. How they guide and protect me. How they feel about the way I live my life. How they arrange things for me, like my marriage (My husband and I married 10 days after we met. Our families have been friends for three generations). I wondered about the inner voice that guides me, warns me when I’m in danger, tells me who I can trust and who is a threat. And I began to wonder about the fleeting sensation that someone is watching me, standing beside me.
In part, this series captures all these things, envisioning ancestors I never met, while celebrating the strength and guidance that was passed down to me in subtle way. Many of the paintings are small works created on pages from The New Yorker magazine. So this series is also an exercise in transforming images to create a more representative view of this world.
Please share with us on life in Panama, your cultural inspirations and places to visit:
Life in Panama can be so many different things. There are beaches, and mountains, deserts and forests, valleys and cities. Everyday, it’s either sunny or it’s not, but whenever it rains, it stops. It’s warm everyday. There are parts of Panama that are fairytale cool and foggy. There is at least one island where everyone speaks Patois instead of Spanish, and that place feels like home. There are so many places to be discovered and visited. Panamá is a great place to visit.
When you come to Panamá go to La Novena Restaurant. They have delicious vegetarian food, and deserts. The owners are Afro-Panamanian, and speak Spanish, English and German. Visit the Casco Antiguo, and walk through Casa Gongora, a renovated two story house dedicated to Panamanian art and culture and open to the public. Go to the causeway and go for a walk or bike ride while watching the ships pass through the canal. After you’ve worked up an appetite go to Pencas. It is a great place to eat on the causeway, and is also owned by an Afro-Panamanian. You can get traditional food, while looking out at the bay of Panama.
Visit el Valle, and camp out in Swami’s Yoga Camping retreat. He can take you to see ancient stone carvings.
Visit Bocas del Toro, go to Isla Bastimentos, and hike up the hill to the little shop of organic chocolates and natural products.
Whatever you chose to do when you come here, leave your watch at home. Things move at the speed of paint drying, and so there’s no point rushing to or from anywhere.
As an activist, please share with us which organisations you are connected with and why?
I have connected with many different organizations over the years that I have been speaking and exhibiting. Since art transcends boundaries, it enables me to dialogue with diverse audiences on really challenging topics like sexual violence, supporting survivors, how the media and gossip help create a culture of silence, the importance of self-care, and rediscovering self-love.
Could you tell us about your future projects that you are working on?
I am planning to tour with Dreams of Ancestors and Angels. So far the show has been exhibited in two provinces of Panama: Colon, and Panama. I plan to take the exhibit, and a workshop series I am co-creating with my husband, to different parts of the world wherever there is a community group that is interested. I prefer non-traditional exhibit spaces such as public museums, community centers, universities, libraries, spaces that are open to the general public, free, and non-commercial.
My hope is that the exhibit will become more and more interactive. In Panama City, I included work by emerging artist friends, whose emotional support I value. I requested they create work that explored messages of hope. The response was beautiful.
It would be lovely to integrate local artists into my show wherever I go, and to create spaces for dialogue, growth and reflection around issues that my art addresses or brings up: hope, love, survival, coping with violence, and celebrating people of color, our ancestors, and our guardian angels.
Which books or websites inspire you?
I enjoy so many books and authors. Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, is probably my favorite book. My impression is that it uses fiction to capture a history we lost due to slavery. I love that every one of the characters is both magical and insane.
Lori Robinson has been a major inspiration for me. She is the one who brought me to this path of activism, when she interviewed me for her book “I Will Survive: The African American Guide to Healing from Sexual Assault and Abuse.” Now she has a wonderful website: http://www.vidaafrolatina.com/
I have links to other sites and artists I love on my website: http://www.poetryandart.org/
I love your style and hair, could you share with us how you care for your beautiful hair and style?
I wash it. I put natural oil in it. And usually I two strand twist it or flat twist it while it is wet. In general I just do my hair however I’m feeling that day. I trim my own ends with a pair of scissors when they get frizzy. I haven’t let anyone do my hair for me in over 2 years. That was when I let a friend lock it for me. That only lasted a couple of months. I felt like I was trying to force my hair to do something it didn’t want to do. Maybe the locks were just too pretty. They required a lot of work, which was exactly what I wanted to avoid when I went natural. So I cut them off, and grew my hair back out. Every once in a while I just start all over. It’s hair, it grows back (although people tend to react as though I’ve cut off a finger). But lately I’ve begun to wonder about the universal crying of small children when someone tries to cut their hair. Maybe they are onto something, and maybe I should just let my hair lock itself this time.
Do you have any advise and wisdom words for any woman who wants to explore her Self journey and creativity:
Fire your inner critic. Hire your inner child. Give her a paintbrush, or some clay, and permission to make a mess. Reward her heavily for her innovations, whether you understand them or not. Ignore any concepts of good art, rules, and proper creative process. Buy the tools that draw your attention, and try different things until you find one you like. I’m a disaster with charcoal, but happy with a pencil. I am delighted with a marker or a pen, and o.k. with watercolors. Oil paints are a dream, but a bit toxic, acrylic paints are forgiving and allow me to change my mind a million times without penalty.
I believe you can’t go wrong when you create. It’s like writing in your diary, no one can every come in and say “that’s wrong” just paint what you are feeling, be true to yourself, and that is beautiful. Even if the image itself is something filled with pain, or anger, or sadness, it is useful and beautiful to release those feelings. To allow them an outlet that is not harmful or dangerous. Being an artist, exploring your self-journey with art, means choosing a creative path that leads away from a destructive path.